The Los Angeles Lakers lost their sixth-straight game on Sunday night, giving up 118 points to a New York Knicks offense that ranks as the 11th most efficient in the NBA.
The loss was another game in which the Lakers’ allowed opposing guards to get loose for big games. Derrick Rose dropped 25 points on 16 shots while Brandon Jennings poured in an additional 19 in his return home to Los Angeles.
Defense has been a consistent problem for the Lakers. The team is currently allowing 109.7 points per 100 possessions, the worst defensive rating in the NBA. The Lakers have bemoaned their slow starts and poor communication, but third-year forward Julius Randle has heard enough excuses.
"It's embarrassing,” Randle told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News of the Lakers’ issues on defense. “We have too many defenders and athletic guys on this team to be this bad on the defensive end."
The Lakers have attempted to use their athleticism by switching on defense. They found some success doing so earlier in the year, but teams have begun to exploit the Lakers’ miscommunication and inexperience as they year has moved along.
Randle had the strongest criticism, but he was far from the only member of the team displeased with the defense.
"Defense. We played well enough offensively to win. You score 112 points at home, that should be a win." -- Luke Walton says.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) December 12, 2016
Nick Young on losing streak (1/2): “We just have to get stops, we are trying to outscore people right now…"— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) December 12, 2016
Nick Young on losing streak (2/2): “…and we just have to get back and get stops and play with more energy.” #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) December 12, 2016
Jordan Clarkson on team’s defensive struggles: “That’s what’s killing us most. We’re going to score offensively."— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) December 12, 2016
Jordan Clarkson: “We have to figure it out defensively. We just have to get back to the drawing board to figure it out.” #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) December 12, 2016
Just about the only good news for the Lakers’ defense is that the team realizes it’s their biggest weakness right now. Los Angeles is consistently playing from behind at the end of games, and figuring out a way to get a few stops in fourth quarters would go a long way towards helping the team snap their losing streak.