The Los Angeles Lakers had one of their most complete wins of the season on Friday night when they dismantled the Atlanta Hawks, 134-118. It was close to a flawless offensive game, but two stats that stood out to Frank Vogel, in particular, were fastbreak points and turnovers.
The Lakers won the fastbreak points battle 24-10, a convincing margin by anyone’s standards. They also turned the ball over just eight times, a significant change for a team that has been in the bottom five in the NBA in turnovers nearly the entire season.
Vogel discussed what each of those stats means for him as a coach, starting with the ability to get out and run in transition.
“Obviously, that’s when we’re going to be our best. This group in the open court is going to be extremely dynamic and that all starts with our defense,” Vogel said. “You have to be able to get stops and you have to be able to get stops without fouling and we still fouled entirely too much tonight and we were still able to get out on the break for 24 fastbreak points.
“Again, if you take 10 of those free throws away and those are play-on type of situations, even if they score and get it in, you have more opportunities to attack in the open court. That’s something we’re always encouraging with our group.”
The Lakers head coach took a broader approach when discussing the recent turnover improvements. “I just think our guys are being mindful of it. It’s three of the last four we’ve been under 10 with our turnovers. I think playing with the space that we’re playing with is making the game easier for some guys. The reads are a little bit easier, but we know that if don’t beat ourselves, we can be tough to beat.
“We had four 30-point quarters tonight because we had under 10 turnovers and it’s something that we’re constantly talking about with our guys and hopefully we’re showing some improvement.”
While L.A. is still 26th in the NBA in turnovers per game, this is actually a step up from where they’ve been for most of the season. And if they can continue hovering around 10 turnovers, it’s only a matter of time before they get themselves out of the bottom 10.
With the win against the Hawks, the Lakers secured their first four-game winning streak of the season and have won five of their last six since falling two games below .500 on Christmas Day.
Vogel discusses impact of LeBron James at center
Part of what has spurred this string of good games from the Lakers is a significant identity switch, making LeBron James the team’s primary center. Vogel spoke about the impact this has had on the rotations. “I think it’s activated some of the other perimeter players and it’s balanced out his attack,” Vogel said.
“It’s not all him with the basketball trying to go downhill into a crowd. He’s trusting his teammates and other guys are rewarding that. He’s being the recipient and the game is getting easier for him in these situations. If there’s a surprise, that’s the biggest one.”
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