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Laker Film Room: Why the Lakers are giving up so many threes (and how they can fix it)

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The Brooklyn Nets went 20-41 from 3-point range in their 117-114 win over the Lakers. Here’s why that happened, ,and how the team can adjust.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I’ve been concerned about the Lakers’ three-point defense since it became apparent that Anthony Davis wouldn’t be playing similar minutes at the center position this season to what he did with the New Orleans Pelicans the previous two seasons. Those concerns were exacerbated on Media Day, where Frank Vogel expressed that he’d devised a scheme that kept his bigs around the basket as much as possible.

Every strategy comes with a potential downside, and the Brooklyn Nets gave the Lakers a glimpse of that to the tune of 41 three-point attempts, with a whopping 20 of them converting.

Let’s take a closer look at why they gave up so many threes, and what they can do about it.

Teams don’t need their center to be able to shoot to make a defense pay for keeping their center near the rim. DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen spent the better part of Thursday’s game setting screens for Brooklyn’s shooters, as Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee hung back in the paint. The result was cleaner three-point looks than the Lakers can give up by design if they want to get the most out of their defense.

Sending Howard farther out onto the perimeter comes with issues — he’s not as mobile as he once was — but McGee has some capability out where the air is thin. He’s no small-ball five by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s able to buy his guards time by showing higher on screens than Howard can. He and Davis can use their collective capacity to traverse a great amount of distance in a small amount of time to prevent shooters from getting clean looks on the perimeter without leaving the front of the rim exposed.

The Lakers built a roster that’s heavy on rim protection, and need to trust it. Plenty of teams will be happy to rarely meet that center that’s positioned in the paint and instead fire away from the perimeter. It’s Vogel’s responsibility to devise a scheme that forces them there, and this roster has the necessary components to do exactly that. If he can’t, Brooklyn’s hot shooting night may end up being a common occurrence.

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