ORLANDO –Who says Mike D’Antoni doesn’t talk enough about defense?
He spent nearly all of his pre-game availability before the Lakers visited the Orlando Magic on that topic, still upset over the Lakers’ loss to Miami where Chris Bosh and LeBron James combined for 58 points. Meanwhile, Miami had a field-day against the Lakers in the paint (52 points), on the glass (48-35) and from three-point range (eight of 20).
“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.
Amid eight losses in their past 11 games this month, the Lakers have conceded an average of 113 points. Will that trend ever stop?
“Yeah, if they want,” D’Antoni said. “There’s nothing wrong with the defense [schematically]. It’s what everybody does. 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.”
Lakers forward Pau Gasol argued that he often has to cover guards to leave his own man open. Case in point, Bosh scored 31 points easily. Gasol suggested the team could improve its issues by communicating better on defense.
D’Antoni sounded pretty defensive on that defensive criticism.
“That’s not where we’re getting beat,” D’Antoni said. “What they have to understand is we pointed out today. There’s five times we don’t run back. There’s 10 points. There’s five times we get backdoor. There’s 10 points.”
“Where teams are good is they have a consistnet energy play hard and stay within the scheme and thety get better that way and not look for an out. When they start looking for outs, we have problems.”
The Lakers have plenty considering they rank 29th in the NBA out of 30 teams, allowing 105.8 points per game. Why hasn’t anything changed?
“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].”
D’Antoni then reverted back to the Lakers’ opponent.
“Miami can do that. They can have plays where, ‘Oh, golly, you’re right, my fault,'” D’Antoni said. “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.”