The Los Angeles Lakers played the Denver Nuggets for the second straight preseason game and the story was much of the same. Once again the Lakers’ defense failed them as despite the Nuggets resting four starters, they rained down three-pointers all night en route to a 122-104 victory.
Unlike Monday’s game the Lakers didn’t get off to a good start and were playing from behind the entire night. Missing three starters themselves, with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram resting minor injuries, the Lakers simply couldn’t get stops or guard the three-point line.
After another disappointing showing, Luke Walton made it clear that the Lakers’ problems on defense this game was simply effort according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke Walton's biggest problem with the defense tonight was simple: "effort."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 5, 2017
The Lakers are definitely hurting by not having their two best rim protectors in Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut, but that says nothing about their inability to guard the three-point line. The Lakers have helped too far off of shooters which has led to Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and Juan Hernangomez shooting the lights out the last couple of games.
Walton has focused on defense so far in training camp, but it hasn’t translated to the court. There have been possessions where the Lakers show improved fundamentals and rotations, but consistency has not been there yet.
Players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Josh Hart have looked like decent individual defenders, but the team defense remains a far cry from where Walton wants it to be. It doesn’t matter how fast the Lakers want to play, if they can’t get stops they won’t find any success this season.