Mike D’Antoni unhappy with Lakers’ defensive effort

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni yells out instructions to his team during the Lakers' 123-87 loss to the Clippers on Jan. 10.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

ORLANDO -- Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t like talking about the Lakers’ defense, which had been pliant and generous, as usual.

D’Antoni was simmering a day after the Lakers lost to Miami, 109-102, with Chris Bosh and LeBron James combining for 58 points on 24-of-37 shooting.

“We were just watching film and we give up 15 to 20 points by guys not paying attention and not doing the things we talk about, and we’re trying to get that right,” D’Antoni said Friday before the Lakers played the Orlando Magic.

Can it be fixed before long?

“Yeah, if they want. There’s nothing wrong with the defense [schematically]. It’s what everybody does,” D’Antoni said. “Can we do it better? Yeah. Could we run back on defense? Yeah. Could we not turn the ball over? Yeah. Can we pay attention to your man? Yes. Can we not get back-doored? Yes.

“Everything in that room is fixable. And they know that. We’re getting better at it. We do have some physical stuff. We’re not quite the fastest team in the league and we’re not this and that. There are some things where we’ll have some weaknesses. But yeah, we can get better.”


Pau Gasol played well on offense against Miami but his defensive assignment, Bosh, scored 31 points. Wesley Johnson barely played in the second half because his defense was lacking. Kendall Marshall has shown an ability to distribute the ball, but his foot speed hurts the Lakers at the other end.

Gasol said after the loss to Miami that he was often forced to cover penetrating guards, which left Bosh open. Gasol also said he and his teammates needed to communicate better defensively.

D’Antoni rolled his eyes Friday when told that players thought better communication was needed.

“That’s not where we’re getting beat,” he said. “What they have to understand and we pointed it out today, there’s five times we don’t run back. So there’s 10 points. There’s five times where we get back-doored. There’s 10 points.

“Where teams are good is that they have a consistent energy and play hard and stay within the scheme and they get better that way and not look for an out. When they start looking for outs, then we’ve got troubles.”

The Lakers (16-27) have had plenty of trouble defensively, sitting at 29th in the NBA (105.8 points a game). Only Philadelphia is worse, allowing 109.8 a game.

Why is it happening?

“It’s, ‘Oh I just made a mistake,’ ” D’Antoni said. “It’s a little bit of our youth coming in. It’s a little bit of just, you get into an ‘NBA trot’ and we are not good enough to play [like that].

“Miami can do that. They can have plays where, ‘Oh, golly, you’re right, my fault.’ Our margin to win is very limited because of the injuries and stuff, so we have to play at a high level of intelligent basketball all the game. And we have to be engaged all the time. If we’re not, we come up short.”


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