No rest for Lakers’ defense, which went missing in action

They gave up 40 points in the first quarter and 75 at halftime, a totally “unacceptable” defensive effort by the Lakers in Friday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz.

On Saturday, Lakers coach Darvin Ham showed how poorly they played on defense in his group video.

As coaches like to say, “The tape doesn’t lie.”

He had tried to get his message across at halftime in the game but to no avail.

The Lakers gave up at least 30 points in every quarter but the third and allowed a season-high 130 points.

“I wrote it on the dry-erase board up there at halftime, ’40 in the first half, 35 in the second, 75 in the half. That’s unacceptable,'” Ham said. “Just as we’ve been on the alert all year, our defense has been in the top five all year and we had a little slip, which is human nature. It’s going to happen from time to time, especially in an 82-game season. So the biggest thing for us is to just look at it, learn from it and do our best not to let it happen again.”

With a game on Sunday at 12:30pm against the talented Cleveland Cavaliers at the Arena, the video session was the primary day of practice.

The players got up a few shots after that. But showing them their mistakes on defense was the most important thing.

“Yeah, sometimes you need that,” said Anthony Davis. “After a game we had defensively, you want to go back to the movie and address the issues that bothered us last night at that end when Cleveland. So if we think we are tackling these issues, it will help us for tomorrow. Great dialogue in the movie and just trying to figure out what the players are thinking and trying to carry that over to tomorrow afternoon and trying to come out with a W.

Maybe having a healthier Davis and James will help the defense.

Both missed the shoot-around before Friday night’s game, Davis with back problems and James because he wasn’t feeling well.

Davis is listed as doubtful with lower back strain, while James (left foot pain) and Wenyen Gabriel (non-COVID related illness) are listed as likely.

“I think I’m making progress every day,” said Davis, who plans to play in back-to-back games on Sunday and then Monday night in Utah. “Every day I’m getting better. The back is getting better every day. So, it felt pretty good last night. It felt pretty good when we played New Orleans [Wednesday]. And I just expect to play better tomorrow.”

A virus that left James in bed before the game zapped his energy, and it was easily seen in games against New Orleans and Utah, respectively. He missed all 12 of his three-pointers and shot 38.1% from the field.

Ham said his star striker was better on Saturday.

“You can see his energy. He’s got energy,” Ham said. “He bounced back at him. He is good. He’s in a good place. You can see he’s doing much better.”

The Lakers were one of the better defensive teams for most of the season, finishing second in the NBA in defensive standings. They are now fifth in the league (107.7).

“We had some good moments, but for the most part it was pretty much what I thought it would be,” Ham said. “Just not enough hitting the ball, not enough pressure on the ball, our shifts. We pride ourselves on our activity off the ball. Again, I tell you, no one will be stopped. It takes unity but up to that point we need to be individually proud and competitive to keep the ball up front and put pressure on the ball.



When: 12:30 pm

In the air: Television: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330

To update: The Cavaliers are one of the NBA’s top-ranked defensive teams, allowing just 104.4 points per game (second) and keeping teams at 44.2% shooting (fifth). The Cavaliers have seven players averaging double figures, led by their dynamic all-star backcourt Donovan Mitchell (31.1 points per game) and Darius Garland (16.5). No rest for Lakers’ defense, which went missing in action

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