L.A. lost badly against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, but what makes the defeat rough isn’t just the fact that the Hawks are seven games under .500. It’s that they allowed them to score at will.
Atlanta ended the night with 138 points, shot 42% from deep, had more fastbreak points, second-chance points and points in the paint.
Anthony Davis was sorely missed in this matchup and his presence would’ve helped protect the rim. Even so, this display was poor and this team struggles to stop anybody even when Davis is on the floor.
After the game, Jarred Vanderbilt, one of the few Lakers who gave a respectable performance on Tuesday night, discussed the need for defense to be a priority for Los Angeles.
“We just got to lock in on both ends for 48 minutes,” Vanderbilt said postgame. “I think we should be a defensive-minded team to start the game. I think our defense should ignite our offense; us getting stops, us getting steals, getting out in transition, getting open looks. I think our foundation needs to be on that end of the floor. We got a lot of guys that can score the ball, put the ball in the basket, so I think we need to hang our hats on the defensive end.”
Vanderbilt has certainly had a resurgence since returning to the team and he’s been one of the few bright spots defensively. The lack of quality in that area is one of the reasons Austin Reaves was benched and why the Lakers are interested in a defensively strong guard like Dejounte Murray.
The errors and miscommunication on defense can be fixed, but time is running out to get it together. When we talk about a defense being on a string, it involves everyone moving as one and understanding the spacing and where to be to make things as difficult for the offense.
Lakers love to go zone out of timeouts.— Raj C. (@RajChipalu) January 20, 2024
Not sure there's a team that runs a more discombobulated zone than we do.
Nets were red hot from three. pic.twitter.com/Sf5SuDzNZr
Watching this iteration of the Lakers play, you see more gaps, mistakes and easy open buckets for the opposition. As long as that continues, this team will keep on losing a game for each one they win until the season ends.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.