The Los Angeles Lakers saw another winnable game slip through their fingers on Monday night as they fell to the Los Angeles Clippers, 120-115. In a change from earlier this season, it was defense that cost the Lakers, as opposed to their offense.
The Lakers allowed Lou Williams to dominate to the tune of a carer-high 42 points, further amplified by the former Laker seemingly scoring at will down the stretch. This was made even worse by the fact that Williams was the only true offensive weapon for the Clippers after Blake Griffin was removed late in the fourth quarter due to an apparent knee injury.
“I was really disappointed in our individual defense down the stretch,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said after the loss. “Our guys have been good all year at taking on that challenge. I thought Larry did a very nice job on Blake, but the rest of our guys, we just conceded.”
Walton added the Lakers’ defensive strategy on Williams was one that required an adjustment, which proved successful when properly executed. “We stopped switching, which has been a great defense for us, and we said we were going to start blitzing [Williams],” he explained.
“And even when we started trying to blitz him, whenever we did it correctly and got the ball out of his hands, were probably the only times we got stops down the stretch.”
Defense has been the Lakers’ calling card when they have gotten wins this season and the return of Nance undoubtedly will help that even more. It seems, however, that Walton’s young team is losing sight of that and looking to outscore teams.
With an extremely rough stretch in the schedule coming up, the Lakers will need to clamp down once again. The effort is there, but as Walton said post game, if the execution is lacking it doesn’t matter.
“I told the guys they played hard enough to win, competed hard enough to win,” he said. “They just didn’t do the little things well enough to win against a team that’s obviously got some pretty good studs on it.”
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