After playing one of the best games of the season against the Boston Celtics, head coach Luke Walton saw the Los Angeles Lakers regress in a 143-120 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
As the two teams went back-and-forth, the 76ers established a double-digit lead late in the third quarter. While the Lakers got within three points, they allowed at least 33 points in each quarter to the 76ers and did not give themselves much of a chance to win on the road.
Through all of the injuries and still without Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have suffered most on the defensive end. And prior to tying a season-high in points allowed against the 76ers, Walton stressed the importance of improving in that area.
While the Lakers shot 51.7 percent from the field against the 76ers, Walton remained focused on the type of defense his team has played of late, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I said it before the game. We shot the ball well tonight, but for where we’re trying to go and what we’re trying to do, we’ve got to find our passion for playing defense again. Defense is going to be everything for our group in this final stretch of the season. Tonight clearly was not good enough defensively. Didn’t get any stops throughout the game, and we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get back to the way we were defending earlier in the season.”
The Lakers were one of the best defensive teams in the league until the injuries started to pile on. Through 56 games, Los Angeles has slipped to 13th (108.4) in defensive rating. They don’t figure to benefit from getting Ball back, as he is not expected to return until some point after the All-Star break.
With one more game against the Atlanta Hawks, the hope is the Lakers can reset after the injuries and trade rumors and make a strong playoff push. At 28-28, they are 2.5 games back of the Clippers for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
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