The Lakers play the Kings at home tonight, and get a chance to avenge their recent loss to the Kings. The 113-101 defeat in Sacramento was their worse loss of the season to date, the team’s first loss to a Western Conference opponent and second in a week to a sub .500 team on the road.
The Lakers appeared to be lethargic and without energy, a bit disinterested perhaps, even not respecting their opponents adding to an off shooting night which happens more often than not in the NBA.
Kobe Bryant spoke of not being able to get into a shooting rhythm which was odd seeing as he has played well and basically killed the Kings in Sacramento though the years, through food poisoning, the sound of loud cow-bells, the defense of Doug Christie and countless others for a series of game changing and game winning shots.
Despite struggling offensively Kobe finished with 28 points. The thing that really magnified Kobe’s struggles was Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum and Vladimir Radmanovic shooting a combined 9-of-22. Pau Gasol finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. The Lakers have scored 100 plus points in 13 straight games and know that there’s room for improvement.
A cold shooting night on the road happens to every team during an 82 game season but the Lakers played terrible on defense. This is the side of the court and part of the game the Lakers need to concentrate on.
This has to stop, the Lakers opponents scoring average is increasing as teams are adjusting to the Lakers style of play. It can’t be placed on one player. The Lakers defense needs to drastically improve. Keep in mind, as bad as the overall defense has been as of late, the Lakers have played good defense in spurts but it is still early in the season and the Lakers are 18-3.
The Lakers need to stop this trend of playing poor defensively, coupled with being careless with the basketball and having too many turnovers that teams are capitalizing on, allowing too many transition baskets. They are not switching out to open shooters, not closing out on three point shooters and are getting caught double teaming players leaving the rest of the squad in scramble-mode causing a mismatch that has been exploited by opponents.
The Lakers had difficulty with the Kings guards and need to stop their dribble penetration forcing their defense to collapse and opening up shooters. Francisco Garcia and John Salmons each had 21 points in the loss. Bobby Jackson added 15 points and the Lakers again played terrible pick and roll defense. Beno Udrih had early foul trouble and finished with 12 points.
The Kings use more of a pick and pop than pick and roll, with Beno Udrih and Brad Miller shooting uncontested jumpers as oppose to rolling to the basket. He scored 13 points on Tuesday night and did a good job of pulling Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum away from the basket. This allowed to the Kings to have double digit points in the paint and a huge advantage in this area.
The Kings were able to have a higher shooting percentage (49% to 40%), match the Lakers in assists (22 apiece) and have less turnovers.
Expect to see the Lakers playing at a high energy level defensively at home with the added motivation of the previous loss. I also expect to see the Lakers shooting improve as well as see them do a good job of sharing the basketball.
I personally want to see them play better defense on the high pick and roll a play that has worked against the Lakers for a while. The Lakers will defeat the Kings tonight and look impressive in the process.
I want to see something that I haven’t seen enough of that I know is there and if I can use an excellent phrase once uttered by VTB, it is “passion of every possession”.
Just in case you’re asking yourself; why have I read the word defense on this article at least ten times?
It has been the mantra of this team since the NBA Finals, it is the difference between being in first and second place, the difference between getting a rematch with Boston with home court advantage at redemption at it not happenin