After a dominant defensive performance leading to a blowout victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night, many were expecting a repeat performance in the rematch on Tuesday. However, Frank Vogel’s team was in for much more of a fight and the Lakers had to buckle down to come away with a victory.
They were ultimately able to do that, coming back from double-digits in the second half to win by two points. But after giving up just 85 points on Sunday, the Lakers surrendered 117 to Houston on Tuesday.
The Lakers didn’t play up to their potential defensively, and while Vogel acknowledges this, he also gave credit to the Rockets for their performance and expects to get that type of effort from all of their opponents.
“Credit the Rockets man. Those young guys came out and played their tails off, they responded from a tough loss the other night,” Vogel said after the game. “Hit every shot, attacked the rim, played with physicality, really challenged us. Our defense wasn’t good in the first half, but even when it was, they made tough shots. Credit those guys, but this is what we’re going to see all year long. With the nature of our team and the names we have on this team, and the expectations of our group we’re going to get every team’s best shot.
“It’s going to be challenging, but it’s something that we embrace and it’s something that is really going to sharpen us. I think our defense really picked up in the second half, a couple charges. Really a lot of hustle plays to win defensive possessions, and we were able to get the W.”
The Lakers have already felt this in the first couple of weeks of the NBA season. Teams like the Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers have given the Lakers everything they can handle so far this year and there will surely be more games like this in the future.
As far as what hurt their defense on this night, Vogel believes the Lakers were just a step late on everything.
“We don’t have great low man habits yet,” Vogel added. “We’ve really been pushing that button with our guys and had a great game of it last game. We were a step late tonight. It’s anticipation, physicality, we just weren’t there on time tonight. We were a step late with it. We, again, challenged them at halftime and we did a much better job of it in the second half.”
The Lakers undoubtedly turned things up in the second half, allowing just 47 points after giving up 70 in the first half. Vogel has been extremely open about the struggles this team has had defensively, but efforts like the final two quarters on Tuesday are sure to make him happy and the Lakers will need that type of effort all game long if plan on reaching their potential.
Vogel frustrated with officials taking points away from Lakers late
One reason the Lakers nearly came away with another disappointing loss is a call made by the officials late in the fourth quarter. The refs incorrectly awarded the Lakers with two free throws on the Rockets’ fourth team foul but did not catch the mistake until a couple of possessions later.
The officials would then rule to take the points off the board, but because possessions had occurred since those free throws, they also didn’t give the Lakers possession of the ball. This incensed Vogel, who said it is something the NBA must take a look at to prevent from happening again.
“That’s definitely something the league has got to look at,” he said. “I understand the mindset to get it right, but it was their fourth foul and they gave us free throws. You’re only supposed to get free throws on the fifth foul, so we shoot the free throws and play resumes, and a couple possessions later they made a mistake, so they just take the points off the board. OK, which is to me, like, once play resumes, you can’t correct that. You can’t correct it.”
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