After a 2-5 start to the 2018-19 NBA season, Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson reportedly admonished head coach Luke Walton during a meeting in which the team’s lack of offensive structure was called into question.
While there was a message of patience during the offseason, LeBron James suiting up in the new Nike uniforms apparently brought championship expectations to the forefront; fair or not.
Although Johnson said Walton would remain the head coach unless something ‘drastic’ happened, he did not clarify what that exactly meant.
Fortunately for Walton, the Lakers have won four of their last five games and he credited the team’s defense against the Sacramento Kings, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It’s nice to get to .500, but the significance of tonight’s game I think was our defense and holding a team to 80-points or something around there. I told our guys this is why defense means so much to us. We shot 40 percent from the floor tonight, we shot 30 percent from three, we shot 60-something percent from the free throw line and we were still able to win by 15 points on the road because you take care of your business on the defensive end. Without defense on a shooting night like we had tonight, no chance we can win this game.”
While the Lakers are currently a top-10 offensive team despite limited shooting, the greatest disappointment has been on defense. After being a top-10 defensive team for most of the 2017-18 NBA season before injuries, they are currently 17th in the league.
As the Lakers want to play fast, they have come to the realization they need to close out possessions first. During this stretch of games, the Lakers have shown improvement and have taken another step with the Tyson Chandler signing, who was recently bought out by the Phoenix Suns and cleared waivers.