Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers have surpassed all preseason expectations and become a good defensive team. 16 games into the season, the Lakers rank fourth in the league in defensive efficiency, holding opponents to 100.3 points per 100 possessions.
Even though the Phoenix Suns play at the second-fastest pace in the league, the team should’ve still probably been expected to hold down the Suns’ 24th ranked offense that only averages 100.8 points per 100 possessions.
That didn’t happen, as the Lakers were lit up for 122 points after a day off as the Suns ran wild on what was the second night of a back-to-back for them. After the loss, rookie point guard Lonzo Ball shared his theory on what went wrong via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters
Lonzo Ball on Lakers poor defense vs. Suns: "Lack of focus, probably came in complacent b/c we beat em twice, we thought it was going to be easier, I guess."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 18, 2017
Lapses in focus are going to happen with such a young team, and the Lakers were never realistically destined to remain in the top-five of the league in defensive efficiency all year anyway. Teams just don’t jump from the league’s worst defense into it’s best after a single offseason.
That said, complacency is something the team can learn from. Walton told reporters after the game that the loss demonstrated to his young team that every NBA team is good and that no matter who they’re playing or how many times they’ve beaten them, they have to take every opponent seriously.
Ball sounded like he absorbed that lesson, and if Walton’s message is getting through to all of the young Lakers then lessons like their loss to Phoenix will just be a bump in the road as the team journeys back towards being good again.
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