Coming off a ninth consecutive loss, of which six have been by double-digits, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to practice on Saturday with a renewed focus on the defensive end of the floor. Some of the drills were reminiscent of work they completed during training camp.
“Shell defense, transition defense, a little bit of how we can just be better all around,” Brandon Ingram said. “Trusting each other on the defensive end, having each other’s back on the help side, individual defense.”
Lakers head coach Luke Walton described the work as getting back to the team’s “basics” on defense. What once was a top-five defensive rated team, the Lakers have allowed opponents to average 118 points during their nine-game slide.
They’re the 28th defensive-rated team during that stretch, and have dropped to 15th overall. “We’ve got to get our defensive mindset back, our mentality,” Walton said.
The Lakers past two games have been particularly troubling. The Oklahoma City Thunder put a 37-point drubbing on them, which was followed by the Charlotte Hornets building a lead that grew to as many as 25 points in the third quarter.
“Watching the film, there’s effort out there but too many breakdowns. From coverages, to three guys going really hard and one guy missing an assignment, which would lead to an offensive rebound or wide-open three,” Walton said of the latest loss.
“So the mindset is defense, defense, defense right now. The thing we have to get back to is all five guys doing it. The only way it works is if all five guys are on the same page, communicating and giving the same effort.”
For as much of an emphasis as the Lakers may put on defense or other aspects, there’s been a disconnect in carrying that into games. It was a sentiment Lonzo Ball expressed following the loss to the Hornets, and one Ingram echoed on Sunday.
Neither player, however, is certain how to remedy the issue. “Maybe a lack of focus,” Ingram said. “Different guys have better nights than other nights. Like I said, it’s a young team, and as a young player you tend to lack consistency a little bit. It’s on us to be better.”
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