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Mike D'Antoni not happy with Lakers' defensive effort

The coach says players are not paying attention and doing what they should be doing but that their problems can be fixed if they want to correct them.

January 24, 2014|By Mike Bresnahan

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ORLANDO — Mike D'Antoni was simmering, which was unusual because Friday's game was still 90 minutes from tipoff.

He didn't think the Lakers showed enough defensive effort the previous night against Miami, wanted them to step it up against Orlando.

They didn't. They got worse, losing to the Magic, 114-105.

D'Antoni hoped for something better while meeting with reporters beforehand.

"We were just watching film and we give up 15 to 20 points [against Miami] by guys not paying attention and not doing the things we talk about and we're trying to get that right," D'Antoni said.

Can it be fixed?

"Yeah, if they want. There's nothing wrong with the defense [schematically]. It's what everybody does," D'Antoni said animatedly. "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 backdoored? 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 has played well on offense but Chris Bosh scored 31 points on him Thursday. Wesley Johnson has not been the defensive stopper the Lakers hoped. Kendall Marshall has shown an ability to distribute the ball, but his lack of foot speed hurts on defense.

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

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

"That's not where we're getting beat," he said. "What they have to understand and we pointed it out [Friday morning], there's five times we don't run back. So there's 10 points. There's five times where we get backdoored. 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 (16-28) have had plenty of trouble defensively, sitting at 29th in the NBA (105.8 points a game) before Friday. Only Philadelphia was worse.

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."


The Lakers are expected to give Manny Harris a second 10-day contract after his first one expires this weekend…. Reserve guard Xavier Henry will be out another 10 to 14 days because of continued knee soreness, D'Antoni said.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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