The Los Angeles Times: The Lakers would just as soon forget their final three games of last season, which included a lot of Steve Nash, a little bit of Tim Thomas and then a lot more of Nash.
What was a cozy 3-1 lead dissipated quickly amid the revival of the Phoenix Suns, who ran rampant over the Lakers and averaged 120.3 points in the final three games of their first-round playoff series.
The Suns were a surge of offense against most teams last season, but Lakers coaches still forced themselves a few weeks ago to watch tape of their series. A sampling of what they saw: Nash continually blowing by Lakers guards and little or no help from the big men.
Fast forward to Tuesday, the first day of training camp, and the Lakers barely touched the triangle offense, centering instead on defense.
“We’re basically doing the same things we tried to get across to the players last year, but we obviously fell and had great lapses throughout the season in games and in critical situations,” said assistant coach Kurt Rambis, who will run the team during Phil Jackson’s absence. “Hopefully our guys will understand that as soon as they go from offense that it’s not a pat on the back and a sigh of relief — they’re immediately into defense and they can turn that around to create some more offense for us.”
Kobe Bryant, watching practice from a courtside massage table after a light individual workout, estimated that 85% to 90% of Tuesday’s four-hour session was geared toward defense.
Bryant, for his part, was back on the all-defensive team last season after failing to make it there the year before. The Lakers as a whole also improved, rising to 15th in points allowed after plummeting to 27th in the league in 2004-05.
The offense, buoyed by Bryant’s 35.4 point per game, rose to seventh overall, but the defense simply wasn’t effective enough when it mattered.
“If we’re going to make the playoffs and think about advancing and trying to beat some of the top teams in the league, my man [Bryant] is not going to get 81 three games in a row or nothing like that,” forward Lamar Odom said. “We didn’t win enough what I would call ugly games. If you watch the Detroits, they do a good job of that. The Miami Heat, even the Dallas Mavericks to get to the championship, that’s what you’ve got to do. We’ve got to improve on winning ugly, and defense will help you.”
Love to see that everyone seems to know what to focus on here. I think the chemistry of this team at least from an outsiders perception looks really really good. Even the Mo evans, the v-rads and the rooks seem to really mesh with eachother well.