The Lakers pulled out their first win of the season on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets. Denzel and Jack were both in the house to witness it, but that doesn’t mean the Lakers don’t need to improve, and quickly if they want to continue to beat teams that everyone else thinks they should be losing to.
The main thing they need to improve is their defense. In the first half of the game, the Rockets scored 71 points. While the Lakers scored 63, they still shouldn’t give up that many in one half. In the second frame, they did improve and held the Rockets to 43 points. That’s the type of effort they’re going to need for the entire game. However, the team got into foul trouble in the late parts of the game. Granted, they were playing against James Harden, who always finds a way to get the fouls called. Still, that’s no excuse.
Nick Young stood out on defense, and hopefully that’s something he’ll keep up throughout the season. I was most impressed when he managed to get a block on Clint Capela. Another plus I noticed on the defensive end was when the Lakers benefited from a shot clock violation with 11:15 left in the third quarter. They came out in much better form for the second half.
The one glaring problem that seemed to eat at them all night, though, was the help defense. It wasn’t there all that much. If Timofey Mozgov would help as Harden drove to the rim, his man was often left open.
Look, Luke Walton is aware of this. He even said as much during the game. It’s going to take a little bit of real game time for them to figure it out. You can bet they’ll be practicing those rotations at practice. And while Walton may not be basing their success on wins, a lot of fans will. So it’s crucial that the players get a better grasp on defense quickly.
There’s a lot to believe in with this young group of guys, but they also still have a lot to prove. Wednesday night’s game was a treat to watch from the offensive perspective. Clean up the defense more and they’ll definitely be able to beat teams that many fans wouldn’t expect wins against.