LeBron James Understands Why Lakers Defense Has Struggled With Certain Guys Out Due To Protocols
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It was an ugly way to send off Staples Center before it becomes Crypto.com Arena as the Los Angeles Lakers suffered another blowout loss, this time to the young San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

Shorthanded once again after Trevor Ariza was placed in health and safety protocols, the Lakers had no answers for a well-oiled Spurs offense that constantly moved the ball until finding the open man for a good look. Los Angeles gave up 138 points in the defeat and struggled to get over the hump every time they looked like they could climb back into the game.

As has been the case since Anthony Davis went down, LeBron James did his best to carry the offensive burden but the team as a whole failed to generate enough stops to make it worth something. When asked about the Lakers’ defensive struggles, James pointed out that their main defensive players such as Avery Bradley, Kent Bazemore, Trevor Ariza and Austin Reaves are all currently in protocols.

“We don’t need a full roster, we just need a lot of our guys back,” James said. “All of our defensive guys are in health and safety protocols – Avery, Baze, TA and Austin. That’s all our defensive guys. We’ve got a couple more but those are our guys.”

Player availability has been a serious issue for L.A. during the 2021-22 season, and James also acknowledged that the team’s issues could be attributed to the lack of minutes lineups have played together.

“It’s different because even in the past, it’s not like we had multiple guys that were out. We were just trying to figure out what’s the best way for us to win, how do we win and what’s the best lineups to be on the floor. Let’s log these minutes and we can get better and better and better. We literally haven’t had an opportunity to log in anything.

“We don’t know, like I just said last game, we have no chemistry with any lineup from the simple fact that we literally haven’t logged enough minutes. But it’s the truth. What is our starting lineup besides me and Russ and AD? Or AD and Russ, or me and Russ. We’ve both been out, so we don’t know.”

The reasoning for the Lakers’ shortcomings are starting to fall on deaf ears when it comes to the fanbase, but James is right that it is hard to field a competent team when their primary rotation players are missing. For the second consecutive season, Los Angeles has had to scrap together lineups on a nightly basis and that in turn has led to poor basketball performances, though the more concerning thing is the lack of effort or energy most games.

As far as the defense goes, it should look better once Reaves, Bradley and Ariza are available though there are more things the Lakers need to do as a whole to start winning games again. James is doing his best, it is just up to the rest of the roster to step up and play better.

James believes lack of continuity has hurt more offensively than defensively

While the defensive performance was extremely poor against the Spurs, James actually believes that the lack of continuity has hurt them more offensively than defensively this season.

“Well defensively, before tonight obviously, we gave up a ton of points tonight, but defensively over the last month we’ve been making strides and been really really good obviously when we had our guys in the lineup. But offensively when you’re not logging enough minutes and you’re not on the floor when you know you’re gonna be on the floor with certain lineups each game, that can be challenging for you.”

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