Chuck Person’s defensive scheme pays off in Lakers’ seven-game winning streak

Chuck Person was known as instant offense as a player, “The Rifleman” taking aim at three-point shots aplenty and connecting on 1,220 in his career.

Now he’s known for his defensive scheme.

The assistant coach has pushed and prodded the Lakers in the right direction defensively, no bigger testimonial than a 99-83 victory Sunday over San Antonio.

The Spurs made 31 of 86 shots (36%) and were stymied at every turn, not one of their starters making more than half his shots.

The numbers were numbing for Spurs followers: Tim Duncan was one for seven, Manu Ginobili was three for 10, DeJuan Blair two for seven, Richard Jefferson missed all three of his shots and Tony Parker was six for 14.

The Lakers have been on a roll since their collapse going into the All-Star break. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson credited Person, whom he promoted to full-time assistant this season.


“We kind of gave Chuck Person dedicated moments in practice to really work on our defense,” Jackson said. “He’s been good with the guys and handled it really well. We’ve taken extra time defensively in practice rather than doing as much execution offensively as we have in the past.”

The Lakers were a mess a couple of weeks ago, getting clobbered in Charlotte and, inexplicably, in Cleveland.

Since then, though, they’ve given up an average of 87 points a game. Four of their games have been against playoff-caliber teams (Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Portland and San Antonio).

“After the All-Star break, we brought it to their attention that we have to commit to it on a nightly basis or we could go back to allowing teams to just penetrate our defense with pick-and-rolls,” Person said. “I think they’ve now bought into it. They understand it and they know what we’re doing now. They’re very aware.”

Person complimented Andrew Bynum’s recent run on defense. Bynum had 17 rebounds in each of the last two games, not to mention nine blocked shots over the same span.

“The main guy in our defensive scheme is Andrew Bynum,” Person said. “If he can contest shots, get the rebound, hit good outlets, I think we’ll be tough to beat.”