Lonzo Ball says defense keeping Lakers alive
The Lakers really struggled offensively in the first half before opening things up in the second half, only to nearly blow the game in epic fashion. They were up 98-81 with just under three minutes left in the game before allowing the Bulls to trim it to just five, 103-98, with 35.8 seconds to go.
They avoided the scare, though, as they were able to hit just enough free throws while getting a few key stops to secure the win.
After the game, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball told ClutchPoints’ Ryan Ward the importance of defense on this team:
Lonzo on pride #Lakers take defensively: "A lot. Our off is at its best when we get out on the break, & to do that, you have to get stops. Unfortunately, as of late, we haven't been scoring, but our def has been pretty steady, for the most part. That's what we try to lean on."
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) January 16, 2019
Head coach Luke Walton doubled down on Ball’s comments in an interview with Mike Trudell, but also pointed out the importance of being focused for the entirety of the game, even if they have a big lead:
Overall, Walton liked the defensive effort once again. Carried the O most of the night. As for the final 2/3 minutes, Walton said you have to keep playing no matter what the lead is. Intensity can’t drop even if margin seems safe. He called time out late to emphasize that point.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 16, 2019
The Lakers’ defense will be tested in a big way coming up, as their next three games will be against some of the league’s best offensive teams. They will take on Russell Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden’s Houston Rockets on the road before hosting Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.