Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles around Larry Sanders #8 and Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center on January 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
The Los Angeles Lakers have won two games in a row after losing six straight. To understand why the Lakers have looked like a playoff worthy team over the past two games and lottery bound the previous six, Triple Threat broke down some numbers:
The Los Angeles Lakers have assisted 62 of the 82 converted field goals over the past two games. To put this in layman’s terms: during the Lakers’ two-game winning streak, the Lakers assisted three of every four made baskets. This means the team was passing the ball around, playing unselfish, and finding ways to score easy buckets. Steve Nash averaged 10 assists during the winning streak.
During the six-game losing streak, the Lakers assisted on 113 of 197 field goals made. The losing Lakers only found ways to create baskets for teammates 57 percent of the time, and that percentage dropped to 52 percent if the home loss against Denver was excluded (explained later). Steve Nash was still consistent in dishing off an average of 10 assists over the losing stretch, but the rest of the team was not nearly as accommodating when the team was losing.
When the Lakers lose, they find ways to share the basketball effectively on two out of every four basket. When they win, the Lakers find ways to assist on three out of four baskets.
The loss to Denver was an anomaly because the Lakers assisted on 30 of 38 field goals. However, that loss was not an anomaly when addressing defense. The Lakers allowed 112 points to the Nuggets and lost, not surprisingly.
Over the six-game losing streak, the Lakers allowed over 100 points in every game. Actually, the Lakers allowed an average of 112 points over the losing streak.
In their last four wins, the Lakers have held opponents to under 100 points. On the season, the Lakers are averaging slightly less than 94 points allowed in victories. Only five of the Lakers’ 17 victories have come with the Lakers’ opponents scoring over 100 points—one of those was an overtime win.
The Lakers increase their chances of winning ten-fold when they play hard on defense and hold their opponents to under 100 points. To illustrate this point, the Lakers have allowed over 100 points in 17 of their 21 losses this season. For those keeping score at home, the Lakers are 5-17 when allowing over 100 points.
Fundamentals and Effort:
Playing hard on defense and passing the ball seem like simple fundamental concepts. For a group of individuals as talented and accomplished as the current Lakers’ squad, consistently focusing on defensive effort and utilizing the entire team appear to be the simple obstacles in the way of playing winning basketball.
For the past two games, these Lakers have figured it out. After all, it's not rocket science; it's just basketball.