The Lakers have lost 3 straight games since returning from the All-Star break and trading Lou Williams. The games themselves have been a mixed bag from a team perspective, competing for stretches, having a couple of double-digit defeats, and then battling throughout against the Hornets only to fall short at the end.
The main takeaway, from a team perspective, is that this group still lacks the defensive ability — through gained experience and chemistry — to be impactful on that side of the ball. The needed stops do not come and the breakdowns are ones which leave you frustrated an questioning whether they will truly ever get it. I wish I had an answer to that question or that I had a more positive outlook on what the future may hold on that side of the ball, but my opinions, for now at least, are that without an infusion of defensive talent and a greater commitment from the players currently on the team to become better at it, this team will continue to flounder.
Offensively, and from an individual perspective, it’s easier to see the seeds and roots of something more dynamic. D’Angelo Russell has offered some especially strong play, mixing scoring and playmaking that inspires hope of him starting to get “it”. There are still fits and starts and some aspects to his game which need more sharpening (like penetration both in isolation and out of P&R’s), but the passing, shooting, and overall decision making is coming around. Maybe it’s a renewed focus because Magic Johnson has taken over the front office, maybe it’s Lou Williams being gone and a sense of added responsibility shifting, or maybe it’s just him finding his stride again after a season which has featured too many injuries and missed games. But it’s coming along. Hopefully it lasts.