It was just Tuesday night against Sacramento that the wheels really came off the wagon. The Lakers continued defensive lapses cost them a game against one of the league’s cellar dwellers.
While some media fall back on the tired old “they’re soft” argument, a few people have provided some perspective. Or in this case, Basketball Prospectus.
That said, while we probably got too excited about the Lakers’ strong start (consider me guilty as charged), nor is the team as bad off as it appears right now. One of Jackson’s hallmarks as a coach is his willingness to let his team flounder at times as a teaching tool, and to some extent we may be seeing just that. The Lakers don’t need to be an elite defensive team right now; they need to reach that level in May and June, and one way or another this stretch will help Jackson determine whether the strong-side trap can be a part of that.
Point taken. It doesn’t matter how many games the Celtics win in December if the Lakers are the better team in June. But success in June is built upon good habits leaned and repeated in December (and January and February and…).
Tonight the Lakers get the chance to avenge their last, ugly loss. That would be one good habit to start.