NBA

'We took a huge step backwards tonight' - Lakers head coach Ham laments lackluster loss to the Jazz

By Sports Desk November 05, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham did not hold back when discussing his side's poor performance in their 130-116 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday, calling their defense "inept at best".

The Jazz came out of the blocks on fire, putting up 40 points in the first quarter and another 35 in the second to lead 75-62 at halftime.

While the Lakers were able to muster a solid third period, winning the frame 33-25 and trimming the lead to 100-95 heading into the fourth quarter, they failed to keep that momentum up and gave up another 30 points in the last.

Utah's 130 points is the biggest score a team has put up against the Lakers this season, with no team managing more than the Golden State Warriors' total of 123 on opening night.

Speaking to the media after the loss, Ham said it was incredibly disappointing to see his team lose the momentum they have been trying to build as they entered the contest off back-to-back wins.

"We took a huge step backwards tonight," he said. "Giving up 75 points in the first half, giving them at least three 30-plus point quarters, we can't play like that.

"We were good during different small stretches, but the overall picture that was painted, by us defensively, sucks.

"That's got to be in your DNA, and it's a process to get it to be that way – where you want to defend at a high level night-in and night-out.

"It's not comfortable, but it's fun. It has to be fun, you have to enjoy getting stops and holding teams to one possession. Rebounding the ball, getting hits, whether you retrieve the ball or not.

"Just the little things of the game – keeping the ball in front of you, getting down in your stance, sprinting back in transition.

"Unfortunately we have a huge laundry list of things we can show them – that we're going to show them tomorrow.

"This is the first game where I felt like we really weren't there defensively."

When asked about any offensive struggles in the fourth quarter, Ham reinforced that this loss had nothing to do with that side of the ball.

"There's 60,000 points in our locker room, so I'm not worried about our offense," he said.

"We've got to defend. We scored enough points tonight to win a game, but our defense was inept at best."

One Lakers player who did perform well was Russell Westbrook, with the maligned former MVP actually drawing "M-V-P" chants from the home crowd at one point.

He finished with a team-high 26 points on nine-of-14 shooting, hitting three-of-five from long range while adding six assists and two steals, but he said the energy from his side was not there from the jump.

"They just started off playing a lot faster than us," he said. "[We were a] step slow, and it showed. We tried to pick it up in the second half, but we put ourselves in a bad position early."

The Lakers are now 2-6 through their first eight games, and will host the 7-1 Cleveland Cavaliers in their next fixture on Sunday.

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