They surrendered 40 points in the first quarter and 75 by halftime, a wholly “unacceptable” defensive effort by the Lakers on Friday night in a loss to the Utah Jazz.
On Saturday, Lakers coach Darvin Ham showed his group video of how poorly they played defense.
As coaches like to say, “The tape doesn’t lie.”
He had tried to get his message across at halftime of the game, but to no avail.
The Lakers gave up at least 30 points in every quarter except for the third and they allowed a season-high 130 points.
“I wrote it on up there at halftime on the dry erase board, ‘40 in the first, 35 in the second, 75 at half. That’s unacceptable,’” Ham said. “The way we’ve been guarding all year, our defense has been top five all year, and we had a little slippage, which is human nature. It’s going to happen from time to time, especially in an 82-game season. So, the biggest thing for us is just to look at it, learn from it and try our best to not let it happen again.”
With a 12:30 p.m. game Sunday against the talented Cleveland Cavaliers at Crypto.com Arena, the video session was the primary practice day.
The players got up some shots afterward. But showing them their faults on defense was the most important thing.
“Yeah, sometimes you need that,” Anthony Davis said. “After a game that we had defensively, you want to go back to film and address the issues that are dealing with us on that end last night than more so Cleveland. So, thinking that we address those issues, it will help us for tomorrow. Great dialogue in film and just figuring out what players are thinking and trying to carry that over to tomorrow afternoon and try to come out with a W.”
Perhaps having a healthier Davis and James will help the defense.
Both missed shoot-around before Friday night’s game, Davis because of back issues and James because he hasn’t been feeling well.
Davis is listed as questionable with low back tightness while James (left foot soreness) and Wenyen Gabriel (non-COVID related illness) are listed as probable.
“I think each day I’m progressing,” said Davis, who plans on playing in the back-to-back games Sunday and then at Utah Monday night. “Each day I’m getting better. The back is getting better each and every day. So, it felt pretty good last night. It felt pretty good whenever we played New Orleans [Wednesday]. And I only expect that I’ll play better tomorrow.”
A virus that had James resting in bed before the game zapped his energy, and it was easy to see in games, against New Orleans and Utah, respectively. He missed all 12 of his three-pointers and shot 38.1% from the field.
Ham said his star forward was better Saturday.
“You can see his energy. He has energy,” Ham said. “He has bounce to him. He’s good. He’s in a good place. You can see he’s feeling a lot better.”
The Lakers have been one of the better defensive teams for most of the season, ranking No. 2 in defensive rating in the NBA. They are now ranked fifth in the league (107.7).
“We had some good moments, but for the most part it was pretty much what I thought,” Ham said. “Just not enough impact on the ball, not enough pressure on the ball, our shifts. We pride ourselves on our activity off the ball. Again, I tell them no one man gets a stop. It takes a unit, but to that point, having said that, individually we have to have individual pride and that competitiveness to keep the ball in front and to put pressure on the ball.”
When: 12:30 p.m.
On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330
Update: The Cavaliers are one of the NBA’s top-ranked defensive teams, allowing just 104.4 points per game (second) and holding teams to 44.2% shooting (fifth). The Cavaliers have seven players averaging in double figures, led by their dynamic all-star backcourt of Donovan Mitchell (31.1 points per game) and Darius Garland (16.5).