Lakers coaching staff continues to seek right formula on defense

Lakers coach Frank Vogel stands in front of the team's bench with his arms folded.
Coach Frank Vogel and his assistants have been searching for answers this season to solve the Lakers’ problems.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

They are eight games below .500 and lost four consecutive games since returning from the All-Star break, and yet the Lakers coaching staff will be back to work today in order to get the team ready to face the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at Arena.

Even during a season that has gone completely off the rails, there is no quit in the coaching staff.

They sat through another whipping Thursday night, the Lakers getting run over by the Clippers, 132-111.


Lakers coach Frank Vogel and his staff will gather to put another game plan together for the Warriors.

“We’re just persistent and staying with the work,” Vogel said. “We’re relentlessly seeking solutions to get us playing better. And we come in the next day with some tweaks or fundamentals that need to be better or ways that we can improve our team. No stone unturned in terms of trying to find solutions to get this right. But it hasn’t taken shape.

“But there’s no quit in us. We will continue to persist. We’re trying to adjust and shift and find ways to win with Anthony [Davis] out” because of a right mid-foot sprain. “We haven’t found that yet. But it’s not something that we can’t do. We just haven’t found it yet. So, it’s a disappointing loss and we just gotta persist.”

The Lakers can start with improved defense.

They entered the game ranked 24th in the league in points allowed, giving up 112.4 per game.

Then the Lakers went out and showed they were unable to stop anybody on the Clippers.

Reggie Jackson scored a season-high 36 points to power the Clippers to a 132-111 rout over the Lakers on Thursday at Arena.

March 3, 2022

For Vogel, who had been known for having stellar defensive teams, like the last two seasons with the Lakers and particularly the 2020 NBA championship team, this season is a problem for him.

“Yeah, I take pride in it so it’s very difficult,” Vogel said. “But, yeah, like I said, we’re continuing to evolve and trying different things, trying things I’ve never done as a coach just to try to junk things to get a little momentum behind our defense. We’re middle of the pack, but I feel like I’m surprised we’re even in the middle of the pack because I’m surprised how that has gone for our group this year.”


Vogel gave examples of those changes.

“Played heavy volume of zone early in the season,” Vogel said. “Playing small-ball where we are switching everything right now, everything, like one through five pick-and-roll, one through five pin downs, just trying to play a different brand of basketball when you’re playing small and trying to space the other team out. Those are two of the bigger things.”

The Lakers were swept by the Clippers this season, 4-0.

They share Arena, play in the Pacific Division and are both representing the city of Los Angeles.

LeBron James called the Clippers ‘a better team’ after they beat the Lakers on Thursday night. He’s right, but the most important question is: Why?

March 4, 2022

So Vogel knows how Lakers fans feel about losing to the Clippers, a streak of seven straight defeats.

“It’s harder for me, because I know our fan base wants to win this, ‘quote, unquote,’ battle for L.A. that the fans embrace,” he said. “So, I’m disappointed for our Lakers fans for that. But at the end of the day, they are a Western Conference team that beat us four times.

“It doesn’t matter that they are in the same city. … Credit them and the shooting that they have on their team is very difficult to defend. So, credit them for winning that series. Yeah, it is more difficult.”