After three straight losses, the Los Angeles Lakers head into their Christmas Day showdown with crosstown rival the Clippers hoping for a win and an end to the misery.
Even with the three-game skid, the Lakers still have the Western Conference’s best record at 24-6. Win or lose on Christmas Day, the Lakers will still have the West’s best record. But, another loss might reveal the Lakers’ real issues – defense and rebounding.
Over the past week, only one team had a poorer defensive rating than the Lakers. That would be the 11-18 Phoenix Suns. In addition, no team had a worse defensive rebounding percentage than Los Angeles.
On Sunday, Los Angeles lost to Denver giving up a season-high 128 points and allowing 62 of those points from the paint. Anthony Davis, whose name has come up in Defensive Player of the Year discussions, has said that the Lakers just aren’t playing well on defense.
Four-time MVP LeBron James missed the Denver game, the first game James has missed all season. He was nursing a sore rib and a groin injury. While not having him in the lineup surely hurt the Lakers against Denver, James was in the lineup for losses to Milwaukee and Indiana.
The Lakers and Clippers have met once so far this season in the season opener for both teams. Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points to lead the Clippers to a 112-102 win.