After scoring 130 points in Friday night’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the offense of the Los Angeles Lakers is likely to get much of the attention. It was their defense, however, that got them back in the game, much to the delight of head coach Luke Walton.
After giving up 67 points in the first half which saw them down 13 points, the Lakers stepped up on the defensive end in the second half. They gave up only 42 points in the final two quarters (and another 10 in OT) with players like Larry Nance Jr. and David Nwaba making a huge impact down the stretch.
It was their defense that led to the offense which is something Walton has been preaching for a while, even though he understands that it’s tough for young players to think that way.
“The most important thing is, we have to realize that offense is going to come. It needs to be done on the defensive end. Everyone wants to score, especially young players. It’s more fun and everyone ends up scoring when you’re focused on defense, when no one is really worried about the offensive glass.”
For the most part, the Lakers’ focus is backwards which is something Walton is trying to change.
“When you’re focused on defense and you’re getting stops, and you’re fighting through screens, everyone ends up getting points on the other end. We sometimes, too often, we concentrate too much on what we’re getting on the offensive end and we let that affect our defense.”
It is that mindset that hurts the Lakers in a number of games. Sometimes shots just aren’t going to fall. The great teams are able to fall back on their defense so that when the offense eventually turns around, they are still right in the game.
The Lakers haven’t figured out that part yet, but they have shown the ability at times this season. Making that the norm moving forward is the next step that Walton is hoping to see.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters unless otherwise noted**