Pau Gasol, Lakers struggling defensively

Pau Gasol, Lakers struggling defensively
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Pau Gasol had a better offensive game against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday than he did Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, but the Lakers clearly have issues defensively.

Toronto's Amir Johnson scored 32 points on Gasol. On Tuesday, twins Marcus and Markieff Morris combined for 37 points on 16-23 shooting to help push the Suns to a 114-108 victory.

"It starts from an individual but the team defense has to be able to cover up certain individual mistakes or breakdowns," said Gasol after the loss to Phoenix. "That's when the team defense and the scrambling out there, hustling comes into play."

The Lakers didn't just have issues with the Phoenix bigs (Channing Frye also contributed 11 points) -- the Suns' starting backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe scored 49 points. Dragic got to the line 11 times without missing an attempt.

"The two guards that they have, they really attack the lane. One is really crafty, and the other one is very explosive and athletic," said Gasol. "That's why they have the record that they have."

With the win, the Suns (12-9) are now two full games ahead of the Lakers (10-11) in the standings.

The Lakers have now lost two straight as they head to Oklahoma City on Friday to begin four games in five nights on the road.

After giving up 114 to the Suns, the Lakers have allowed at least 100 points for five straight games.

Gasol has been bothered by a sprained ankle, which has limited his lift and mobility.

Teams have taken advantage of Gasol's lack of foot speed, and with Kobe Bryant looking to find his legs, the Lakers are suddenly a lot slower than the team that won 10 of their first 19.

Losing reserve Jordan Farmar to a hamstring injury has only compounded the problem.

Bryant is expected to quickly improve but the Lakers need a lot more out of Gasol, especially defensively.


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