LeBron James on the Lakers’ Defensive Woes: ‘It’s Been Challenging’

Following a 132-111 loss to their crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, LeBron James spoke on the Los Angeles Lakers’ defensive struggles this season:

“It’s been challenging for us this year defensively… we’ve had a lot of breakdowns, we’ve lost a lot of games because our defense has broken down, but it’s also been our offense at times.”

The Lakers rank 26th in points allowed per game (112.7), 27th in points allowed in the paint per game (50.3), and 27th in points allowed off turnovers (17.0).

A lot of that has to do with the absence of Anthony Davis, who’s out for a month due to a mid-foot sprain.

A clear picture is painted using FiveThirtyEight’s defensive Raptor metric that tightly measures player ratings. Of players who’ve played 505 or more minutes thus far (equal to at least eight minutes per game), Davis is one of only two players on the Lakers roster who has a score above a +1.0 defensive rating: +2.4. Austin Reaves (+2.1) is the other, while James is the only other player in the positive, at +0.4.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel remains adamant that his team will continue to try and fight through the struggles.

“No stone unturned in terms of trying to find solutions to get this right,” Vogel said per ESPN. “But it hasn’t taken shape. There’s no quit in us. We will continue to persist. We’re trying to adjust and shift and find ways to win with Anthony out. We haven’t found that yet. But it’s not something that we can’t do. We just haven’t found it yet.”

Saturday night, the Lakers (27-35) host the struggling Golden State Warriors (43-20).