Shootaround Report: Lakers Defensive Problems – Effort or Confusion?

The Lakers defensive unity on Christmas Day, which led to a 100-94 win against the New York Knicks last Tuesday night, squalled the defensive criticisms for about 24 hours time. That was until the Lakers looked slow, confused, tired and undeserving in their 126-114 loss on the road to the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night. Dwight Howard’s ejection due to a Flagrant-2 foul call, didn’t make matters better; however, in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s post-game interview on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, he said Howard’s absence meant “not a whole lot.”

In Dave McMenamin’s article on ESPNLA.com, Howard pointed a few fingers to explain the defensive lapses.

“Guys got to be in the right spots and they have to be taught it and it has to be something that you practice on so guys can understand,” Howard said, visibly frustrated as he spoke. “They have to go through it. You just can’t talk about defense or talk about where to go. You actually have to show guys where to go.”

It sounds like making excuses for defensive struggles continued at shootaround this morning. According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, the Lakers still have differing opinions on pinpointing the source of the Lakers defensive problems.

The Lakers head coach and point guard seem to be on the same page, but the Lakers All-Star center who clearly made a poor defensive play on Kenneth Faried to result in his ejection, isn’t apologizing for his powerful comments. D’Antoni, on the other hand, didn’t acknowledge any truth to Howard’s remarks, and Lakers reporter Mike Trudell only speculated that Howard would probably agree with D’Antoni after watching film.

If the Lakers play well defensively tonight, it will be interesting to see if Howard attributes it to effort or knowledge of the rotations. If he’s smart, he’ll mention both and refrain from pointing any fingers, whether or not the Lakers leave home with a win tonight.

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Video: Lakers Exclusive with Darius Morris

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