The Los Angeles Lakers faced what was a significant test last night. They just came off of a win against the Dallas Mavericks the day before in a close game. They’d lose to the Denver Nuggets in the Pepsi Center the very next night. The Lakers were expected to come out rolling but instead they were very flat and lazy–especially on the defensive end.
The Lakers allowed the Nuggets prime position down low giving up 78 points in the paint. The Nuggets also forced 15 turnovers last night and got 33 points off of them. They were 19-27 in transition, hit two of nine three point attempts there, and scored
They had 33 assists to only nine turnovers last night and had 40 bench points as well. 13 out of the Lakers 15 turnovers were steals that the Nuggets forced that led to plenty of offense in transition. The Nuggets shot 56% from the field, but they only shot 27% from beyond the arch out of 18 attempts. 31.5% of the Nuggets offense came from transitional opportunity and 23.1% of there offense came from spot up attempts–many of which came from transition opportunity.
The Lakers made cardinal mistakes in transition last night. They simply made the worst mistakes that you could. These range from not getting back on defense properly, taking your time to gingerly walk up the floor, communicating the wrong way, and losing assignments in transition.
In the videos below, you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Here, the Lakers took there time to get back on defense. You consistently see the Nuggets outrunning and outpacing them to the other side of the floor. They had numbers all night long–these two plays are simply examples of what was a recurring occurrence in last night’s game. There were constantly guys walking back and we all know that you can’t just walk back against the Nuggets. Here, let the tape speak for itself:
There was a three on two situation there where the Lakers got beat for a layup and a three on three situation where the three players who were just outran to the rim at that point. If you’re trying to catch a hot 8th seed, then these are things that you can’t do. The little things matter the very most.
Take a look at this next video. This shows where the Lakers just lost their assignments in transition. They all got back, but didn’t put it all together. Good defenses do both, but the Lakers are far from a good defensive team. There were instances where the Nuggets were getting dunks and wide open threes from the Lakers with no contest–specifically from Ty Lawson. There were many times where Lawson was beyond the arch for over a second without anyone closing out or getting a good contest. He was 1-6 from three, but you still cannot let the Nuggets have these shots. These are simply not good defensive principles.
As you can see, the Lakers were again taking their time to get back. They weren’t guarding the trailers on the play and they didn’t pay attention to the three point line. They were packing it into the paint because of their lack of a defensive presence there last night and gave no effort to close out because of the Nuggets passing.
The Lakers aren’t going to have any chance to make the playoffs if they can’t even defend the simplest of schemes like the Nuggets. The Nuggets are a horrible shooting team and only have presence in the paint. They knew what the Nuggets wanted to do and they gave minimal effort to stop it. If this continues, its almost a guarantee that the Lakers will miss the playoffs this season.