The Los Angeles Lakers scored 126 points against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. The problem is that they gave up 134 points, the third straight game in which they have given up more than 130 points. The Lakers continue to have no answer to keeping opposing perimeter players out of the lane, with Ty Lawson scoring 30 points and dishing out 17 assists. Lawson has his way with the Lakers’ guards, and it seemed as if every drive resulted in a wide open jump shot or an easy layup. Six of the Nuggets’ players scored in double figures, including Kenneth Faried, who scored a team-high 32 points.
Even though some of the Lakers had solid offensive outings, they just cannot expect to win games when they give up more than 130 points. There are few players on this team that are capable of stopping opposing players one-on-one, but that is not an excuse for poor team defense. Part of the problem is the defensive scheme, but a bigger problem is a lack of effort.
The Lakers must get better at rotating off the ball. Often times when a guard gets beat, a big man will slide over to help, but everyone else stops and watches. As a result, offensive players are able to easily find spaces within the defense to get off open shots. Even if the helping big man is able to harass the dribbler, there are still four other players on the court that must be accounted for. The Lakers must understand that good offensive players will constantly be moving to open spaces, and that they must be aware of their movements at all times.
Playing defense requires all five players to focus and play together, which the Lakers just are not doing. Too many times, opposing players are getting easy layups, which can be prevented by simple rotations and effort. The Lakers should take pride in playing defense and not just think about the offensive side of the game. They are not a good enough team to only be playing on one side of the court.