Lakers continue to seek growth, improvement on defense

Lakers forward Anthony Davis, left, talks to center DeAndre Jordan during their game against Oklahoma City.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3), with tape on his injured right thumb, talks to center DeAndre Jordan during a loss to the Thunder on Thursday night at Staples Center.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Far too often the Lakers have offered little resistance on defense, and it has allowed teams at the low end of the NBA spectrum like Oklahoma City to exploit that weakness.

After the Thunder worked over the Lakers yet again Thursday night, after another major collapse, L.A. dipped some more in the defensive ratings.

The Lakers are giving up 112 points per game, ranking them 27th in the league out of 30 teams. They are letting teams make 45.9% of their shots (24th) and 35.2% of their three-pointers (21st).

Oklahoma City roared back from 19 points down to pull out a win Thursday. The Thunder made up an even larger deficit last week against the Lakers, storming back from 26 down to earn the victory.


Lakers center DeAndre Jordan, who has twice been on the NBA’s All-Defensive team, was asked after practice Friday what’s missing from his team’s defense.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily just one thing,” Jordan said. “But I do believe that we’re making strides. I think that we have seen great periods of defense from us in spurts. We put it together enough to win games, but we still have a long ways to go. We still can get a lot better.”

Already without LeBron James, the Lakers suffered another setback when Anthony Davis sprained his right thumb against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Nov. 5, 2021

Like forward Anthony Davis, who Lakers coach Frank Vogel said was questionable for Saturday night’s game at Portland because of a sprained right thumb, and center Dwight Howard, Jordan is the last line of defense for the Lakers.

Jordan watches the action taking place and said he sees “great defenders” on the Lakers in Avery Bradley, Kent Bazemore, Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo.

“We got to find a way to put it together,” Jordan said. “But I think that one is containing the ball, us communicating with each other, being on a string. And, you know, it’s not an excuse because no team in the league has a lot of practice time to learn the scheme. So, we’re kind of learning them and learning each other in the game, in the film sessions. So, once we get more minutes with each other, I think that we’ll see some progression there.”

Frustrations seeped in after the loss to the Thunder.

The Lakers have big expectations and are moving at a slow pace, especially with their defense.


“Yeah, we do have high expectations,” Vogel said. “We’re going to be a little edgy when we lose. I hope we’re edgy when we lose … and the film today was, and the work on the court today, was just really about growth. Failure is fertilizer for growth. That’s the mindset that you have to have.

“To play the way we’re playing, you win by one, maybe you’re not as focused or locked in on correcting things or improving. So, I think there is a sliver lining in it. We had a good film session, a positive, productive. … We have a good system in place and our mindset is to stay positive, stay together and grow each day.”



When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday.

On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330.

Update: The Lakers will meet the Trail Blazers on a back-to-back game, with Portland hosting Indiana on Friday night. Damian Lillard has been having a subpar season shooting. Lillard was averaging 19.5 points, the lowest since his rookie year in 2012-13, before Friday night’s game. He was shooting career lows from the field (35.3%) and three-point range (23.4%). But Lillard is averaging 8.5 assists, fourth best in the NBA.