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    Lakers searching for answers with 3-point defense
    • January 13, 2024

    LOS ANGELES — Was the Lakers’ defensive intensity – and overall defensive performance – in their 106-103 home win against the Clippers on Sunday what should be expected from the team on a nightly basis?

    Or was it an aberration amid a disappointing stretch on that end of the court?

    In their last two games since the aforementioned victory over the Clippers, in what was arguably one of their two best defensive performances in the last month when factoring in the opponent, the Lakers haven’t been able to reach the same defensive heights.

    They allowed 131 points in their one-point home victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday before allowing 127 points in their 18-point home loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.

    The Lakers’ defensive ratings (points allowed per 100 possessions) in both of those games were higher than 124 – significantly higher than the league-average defensive rating of 116.2.

    “We understand for us to win, we have to defend at a high level,” LeBron James after Thursday’s loss. “Every team creates different challenges, different disadvantages or advantages or whatever the case may be. We prepare for that and try to execute that.”

    The last two games haven’t been anomalies.

    The Lakers’ defensive rating over their last 16 games since winning the In-Season Tournament, a 5-11 stretch: 118.5, which ranks 22nd in the league during that span.

    They had a 110.3 defensive rating in their first 23 regular-season games for the league’s seventh-best mark. They’ve slipped out of the top 10, down to 12th, because of their defensive slippage over the last month.

    “There’s different circumstances that play into that inconsistency,” Coach Darvin Ham said. “We just have to figure it out. I don’t want to sit up here and try to make excuses, but yeah, you want to feel like you can go out there every single night and give yourself a chance with the way you defend and the way you guard.”

    The Lakers’ 3-point defense has come into focus during this stretch.

    They’re allowing the most 3-point field goals (15.7), the third-highest 3-point percentage (41.6%) and the most “wide-open” 3-point attempts (22.9) in the league during the aforementioned 16-game stretch.

    Many of those open shots stem from the Lakers prioritizing slowing teams’ top creators and playing the percentages with players who don’t knock down 3-point shots at a high clip.

    The game plan has gone against them more often than not recently (Dallas’ Dante Exum and Memphis’ Marcus Smart among players who have scorched them from deep).

    “Realizing that everybody, no matter what their numbers are, shoots well against us,” Anthony Davis responded when asked how the team can address its 3-point defense without compromising other parts of its scheme. “If a guy is shooting 10%, he’s gonna shoot 40 against us. Just knowing that.

    “There hasn’t been a time where the numbers have told the truth to us when we’ve played guys. We gotta play everybody like they’re Steph [Curry] when they play us because everybody has shot the ball well against us.”


    Forward Rui Hachimura wasn’t on the team’s Friday injury report, meaning he should be available for Saturday’s road game against the Utah Jazz after missing five games because of a strained left calf.

    Davis (left ankle) and Christian Wood (migraine) were listed as probable while James (left ankle), Cam Reddish (left knee) and D’Angelo Russell (right knee) were listed as questionable.


    When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. PT

    Where: Delta Center, Salt Lake City

    TV/Radio: Spectrum SportsNet, 710 AM

    ​ Orange County Register