After an exhilarating Opening Night win over the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers found themselves down early and often to the Golden State Warriors behind huge games from both Klay Thompson and David Lee. Many wondered how well the Lakers would be able to defend opposing teams coming into this season, and with the Warriors featuring a team that is poised to give the Lakers problems, tonight was a huge early test.
The first test was an obvious failure as the Lakers gave up 125 points — 62 from Thompson and Lee — while allowing the Warriors to shoot 15 from 27 from three-point land.
The biggest problem on the night was not the number of shots, but where the Lakers allowed the Warriors to get their shots off. For young team that likes to get out on the break, the rule of thumb is to limit the number of three pointers and shots at the rim attempted. 57 percent of the Warriors shots came from those areas, and the Warriors shot 71.4 percent from those areas. That’s a recipe for the disaster we witnessed.
With a team that looks dramatically different from what they were a year ago, working out the kinks of a new defensive system is going to take some time. “[Defense] is something we got to get better at,” said head coach Mike D’Antoni to media following the game. “There was a little lack of speed sometimes. I don’t know if they were tired or physically or emotionally spent.”
The Lakers were on the second of a back-to-back for the first time this season, and had to travel after a hard fought win over the Clippers. Their sluggish start could have been all Thompson needed to get going, and once he got going he didn’t let up. Thompson dropped 38 points on the night, a new career high. “You’re mad you didn’t defend him better,” Nick Young said about Thompson, who shot 15-for-19 on the night. “We let him get off early and got his confidence going.”
The Spurs are heading to Los Angeles for the Lakers third game of the season on Friday. If the Lakers continue to defend like they did against Golden State, San Antonio is going to give the Lakers problems.
“We definitely have to clamp down,” said Jordan Farmar, who struggled on the night after having a huge game against the Clippers. “You have to give Golden State a lot of credit. They were on top of their game tonight, let’s hope it’s a one-off and let this sour taste motivate us and move forward.”
Moving forward, they must. Much like there wasn’t much to be learned after the win over the Clippers, there isn’t much to be learned after tonight’s game. A new roster, a new coaching staff (assistants), and a new defensive scheme while missing their starting point and shooting guards. This loss isn’t the end of the world, but it showed a glaring weakness that they have on the defensive end of the floor that must be improved on in the coming month.
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