The Lakers are still struggling. Last night’s game wasn’t necessarily a bad loss though. Phoenix is a good team. The Lakers definitely still have defensive issues. Not to mention, it’s hard to win when you give up that many points in the paint, and miss that many layups.
They did battle back in that fourth quarter, to at least make the loss look more respectable. That was commendable. So, it’s not a loss we should be panicking over, but there are still some disturbing problems with this team. I do have faith they can be fixed eventually though.
Defense is the Key
Frank Vogel is not really known to be a great offensive mind. He’s always been a defensive minded coach. This is a good thing for this team. Unlike the past two years, this team shouldn’t struggle on offense. There are plenty of guys who can get a bucket if the Lakers need it. What they lack is great point of the attack defenders. Avery Bradley is really the only one they have.
So, what that means is they need to learn to compensate by playing better team defense. They are going to need to help each other, and communicate more on defense. Both of the first two games showed a serious problem with this communication. I saw so many missed switches and broken assignments. I’m sure it’s making Frank pull his hair out too, not just me. It will get better though. I just hope it happens before they dig themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of.
AD and Dwight Had a Fight
Some people are blowing the fight between Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard way out of proportion, this morning. It’s really not that big of a deal. What I saw was Dwight barking at his own teammates, when he was playing subpar himself. AD then took exception, like a good leader should, and got in his face about it.
It was nice to see that from AD. One day he will have to be the Alpha on this team. He needs to start taking on some of those responsibilities. Unless LeBron is still playing at 45, which is crazy to say but somehow still seems possible. That fountain of youth is no joke, but I digress.
This is a good thing, from a team standpoint. I’ve been on teams where guys act like Dwight did last night. It sucks. It can tear apart a team at just about any level, if not addressed immediately. Especially when it’s coming from a guy who isn’t a team leader, like Dwight in this case.
It’s one thing if LeBron James is yelling at you, he’s your leader it’s expected. When anyone who is a beta or lesser tries it, it rarely goes over well. The reaction is usually “Who the (bleep) are you? I know I messed up, but it isn’t your job to tell me.”. Nobody has time for that garbage. I love Dwight, but sometimes he is a knucklehead. Although, I was glad to see that he blew it off as no big deal either, after the game. It looked like he realized he stepped out of line a bit. I think AD squashed this properly.
Russ Improved and Looked a Little More Comfortable
Russell Westbrook was great in the first quarter. He was attacking the basket and being more aggressive. He also looked much calmer, and more focused. It unfortunately unraveled before the half was over though, as he let the refs get to him. Still, it was nice to see him start to figure things out. He looks like he’s on the right path at least.
The Next Six Games Will Be a Test
The next six games are all potentially winnable games. Memphis usually plays them, tough, but the Lakers should beat them at home. The Spurs and Thunder are both teams that they should be able to beat, even on the road. Then they have Cleveland and two games with Houston, all at home. Those three they should definitely win. They need to win at least 4 or 5 of those six, to start to get on track. If they don’t, it may be time to push the panic button, or at least hover your hand over it.