What’s Really to Blame for the Los Angeles Lakers’ Embarrassing Defense?

LOS ANGELES — After a recent loss against the Denver Nuggets, in which innumerable defensive blunders led to a steady rush of baskets for the opposition—120 points is a lot of points—Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott generalized his team’s calamitous performance with a slew of demoralizing truisms. 

“We have to figure out a way to play extremely hard and extremely well on the defensive end,” he said. “Not miss assignments and play together as a team for 48 minutes. We have flashes of doing all the things the right way but sometimes when you do it the right way, teams are gonna score.”

A few moments later, Scott pivoted in an attempt to identify the problems that still plague his team. 

“Most of all it’s not effort. It really isn’t. I think our guys are giving a great effort. Most of it is just, knowing where you’re supposed to be at the right time and the right place. Anticipation is big in defense because you don’t have to be the smartest or fastest, but you have to anticipate where the ball is going. Where the next play is going. Where your man is going. The ball, you’ve got to be on a string every time. When the ball moves, you have to move.”

He concluded with a sincere observation that contradicts the very words he spoke not even two minutes prior: “Sometimes our guys just relax. That’s what young people do. We’re just going to keep pushing at it, working at it. It’s going to take us some time, but we’re going to get it.”

It's obviously bad news when a head coach scratches his head this long in a single press conference, but nothing Scott said was incorrect.

Heading into Tuesday night's showdown against the Miami Heat, the 1-5 Lakers are allowing 108.3 points per 100 possessions, which is second worst in the entire league. No team forces fewer ...

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