The Los Angeles Lakers won their seventh straight game by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 115-105, but once again there was cause for concern early on.
Frank Vogel’s team fell behind by 20 points for the second consecutive game and wasted no time against the Grizzlies, going down 22-2 within the first six minutes .
While the Lakers’ ability to fight back from large deficits is a commendable trait, the fact that it has happened continually throughout this season, and even more so recently, has been a cause for concern and Vogel believes it will ultimately catch up to them.
“We definitely are concerned about our slow starts. We’ve got to do better. It’s the simplest way to put it,” he said. “We are going to put ourselves in a hole one of these days and not be able to come back. That’s going to happen.”
The win was the Lakers’ eighth after trailing by double-digits this season, which shows how resilient this team can be. They are a defensive minded-team and when they lock in on that end of the floor, the deficits they face quickly begin to shrink.
On numerous occasions the Lakers look completely lost in the first half before holding a team well below their scoring average in the second half, which is a major reason why they remain the number one team in defensive rating despite some subpar performances by their standards.
This falls completely in line with something Vogel spoke about in practice. “While we’re on a six-game winning streak, the message to the team was, ‘Good enough, but not good enough,'” Vogel said.
“Like, we’re good enough to win these games, but by our standards we’re not playing good enough.”
Though the Grizzlies are a potential playoff team, they are certainly not a championship contender. The Oklahoma City Thunder and especially the Detroit Pistons aren’t expected to make the playoffs at all.
These are the teams that the Lakers seemingly should be able to put away with ease, and their ability to come from behind despite such large deficits is proof as to why Vogel is unhappy with the Lakers’ performance despite the wins.
Vogel sees the benefits of playing close games
If there is a positive from these kinds of games the Lakers have been playing, it’s that it gives them the opportunity to be in close games where they have to execute down the stretch and figure out what works best for them.
Vogel, while still unhappy with the team’s overall performance, does recognize the benefits of these contests as well. “You want this,” he began. “‘Bron and I were just talking about it before practice. You embrace these challenges.
“I want to credit our guys for not panicking [Wednesday]. We got down 20 in the first half and OKC was playing terrific basketball. You want to be in a position where you’re being pushed. If they come out and play poorly and we’re up 15 or 20 points, there’s more of an inclination to not be as disciplined with your habits and what you have to do to execute.
“The close games, I think are good learning lessons with what we want to run, our defensive coverages and all those types of things ultimately at the end of the day sharpen us. We embrace the challenge of facing everybody’s best shot each night.”
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