How much can the Lakers improve on defense?

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The stern coach marched into the Lakers’ practice, preaching and teaching one thing that he believed would significantly alter their rebuilding fortunes.Defense. But none of that translated into results. The Lakers not only finished last season with a 21-61 record, their worst mark in the franchise’s 67-year-old history, but after envisioning his team could rank at least 15th in total defense, Byron Scott oversaw the Lakers finishing 29th out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed (105.3) and defensive field-goal percentage (46.6) and 26th in fast-break points allowed (15.1). “It’s contagious. People don’t understand that sometimes,” World Peace said. “It’s a part of the game that I’m not going to try to explain to nobody. I’m not going to explain the difference how something like that can make a difference.”The Lakers could have issues explaining how they could stop some of the NBA’s top scorers. They will face countless Western Conference opponents who can make 3-pointers (Golden State’s Stephen Curry), beat anyone in a race (Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook) or give anyone nightmares off pick-and-rolls (the Clippers’ Chris Paul). Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson stressed the need for the team to communicate and hustle back on defense quicker, two areas he largely attributed toward last season’s struggles. Yet, the normally confident Kobe Bryant suddenly sounded uncertain on the team’s defensive fortunes. “Honestly I don’t know,” Bryant said. “It remains to be seen. A lot of it is experience and timing, understanding offensive packages and what’s to come. But Roy covers up a lot of mistakes, too. You don’t want to try to overburden him too much. But he can bail us out if we need him.” Hibbert has bought into that idea. “He can trust I will help him on both ends of the court,” Hibbert said of Bryant. “We can help out Kobe so he can carry the offensive load.”The Lakers’ defensive performances have not been a good thing, though. They have ranked 23rd in points allowed (104) through three exhibitions.Scott has maintained he will keep his schemes similar, save for a few tweaks to accommodate the arrival of Hibbert and World Peace. But as Scott discovered last year, no amount of preparation can guarantee a turnaround. “They understand what we have to do,” Scott said. “But they seem to be a step or two slow in the process of doing it. We have three weeks to correct it.” center_img “We will be a much better defensive team. Look, we can only drop one more (spot),” Scott joked. “We can’t get much lower than where we were last year, so I think we’re going to definitely improve.”Last season’s Lakers team missed an NBA record 339 games because of injuries. The team also featured an unproven roster that lacked any players with defensive credentials.This year, the Lakers acquired 7-foot-2, 270-pound center Roy Hibbert from Indiana. Hibbert is a two-time All-Star and former member of the NBA’s All-Defensive second team. “We can be top five in defensive efficiency,” Hibbert said. “But it’s going to take hard work, commitment and sacrifice.” The Lakers also signed Metta World Peace, was the league’s Defensive Player of the year over a decade ago, to a non-guaranteed contract. In their preseason loss to Utah on Tuesday, the Lakers noted how World Peace’s defensive energy in the second quarter trimmed a 19-point deficit to one by halftime. last_img

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