I have my first story up on ESPNlosangeles.com, breaking down the Lakers defensive woes of late, which I think is the reason for the recent mini-slump.
The problems with the defense have been exacerbated because of Ron Artest’s injury. But the problems were there before, on Christmas Day and against the Thunder.
There are a few things going on. The Lakers have reverted at times to an ineffective defense used in past seasons: everyone collapsing into the paint to help out. For example, early in the second half against the Suns, Steve Nash came down and ran a drag screen (a high screen-and-roll very early in the clock) but used it only to get a switch, so Lamar Odom was now on the much quicker Nash. Then Nash drove into the paint off an Amare Stoudemire high screen — Odom went with him, both Bynum and Gasol slid over to take away the rim, Kobe slid in and was one foot out of the paint trying to guess a passing lane. That all left Derek Fisher trying to cover three men at the 3-point line. So he stood at the top of the key. With four Lakers in the paint it was an easy kick-out to Channing Frye, who had plenty of time to drain an uncontested 21-footer.
That’s one play, but the Lakers have seen a lot of variants of it — off penetration, the wing shooters are getting very open looks with nobody really contesting them.