How the Blazers defended the Montreal Herald defensively and reminded the Lakers of their true identity

The LeBron James-Anthony Davis Lakers won their first 59 games in which they led three quarters later. If last season’s championship team took the lead after three quarters, the game was functionally complete. Not once did they blow such a lead, and that significant reliability came primarily from their defensive superiority.

Neither team allowed 100 points less in the fourth quarter (100.8) than the Lakers last season. They were fourth in clutch defense before the Land Relando bubbles and the clutch settings improved when the playoffs arrived. It was almost impossible to beat the late Lakers in games as it was almost impossible to score late Lakers in games.

On Monday, the Portland Trail Blazers broke a 59-game winning streak with a third-quarter lead. After trailing 85-84 in three quarters, knocking out the Lakers 31-22 in the fourth, he would never have allowed last year’s roster with a 115-107 win over Staples Center. But last year’s roster did not include the Montreal Herald.

The Lakers took the risk of counting on Harrell. Paying him only a mid-level exception, they managed to secure a player who, in a vacuum, was more valuable than he should have been. They took him away from rival clippers, and they believe they are confident Mark Gasol will come for the minimum, knowing they have a more traditional center to balance their shortcomings. Hacker played pretty well in his first three games as a lacquer. Its scoring, offensive rebounding and energy release are the real assets.

But those assets are best applied against bench lineups that they can physically manage. Asking him to play in crunch time aims at his back. That was especially true on Monday, as Frank Vogel left him on the floor for more than 15 consecutive minutes. Portland realized how much he was exploiting in defense, he was tired of fighting back. That, in essence, is what the Lakers lost this game. The Blazers hunted Harrell for extinction on peak-and-rolls.

Apparently, the Lakers decided him on offensive pick-and-roll coverage against Damien Lillard to prevent him from dribbling in 3-pointers. This type of trap only works if a large defender immediately knocks the ball-handler off the screen, allowing the rest of the defense to be rotated to save it and perhaps forcing the ball-handler to panic. Instead, Harrell defiantly did not show enough rigidity to slow it down or put enough behind him to do anything about Ans Carter. It was in the middle of the play, though it didn’t affect either end of it.

The next time the landlord is a little more attentive when Portland runs a pick-and-roll, but it still doesn’t come nearly as high on CJ McClum. That leaves enough air space for McCullum to bounce the ball into Joseph Nourik’s pocket. LeBron James moves, but he’s not big enough to fight Nurkik here.

After a few plays, Portland just catches it alluring. It does not bleed or drop. It freezes, and when he realizes that Nurik’s screen is pulling Cantavius ​​Cuddwell-Pop out of the play, it’s too late to get him back in McCollum.

As things escalated terribly, Laker abandoned the blitzing plan to make things easier for Haral. It didn’t work either. When he returns to the play, his only resistance is Lillard’s lazy drive that results in the wrong way.

Next time down the floor, Portland delivers the cutters. Another Lillard-Norik peak and roll. Haral plays drop coverage again, but does not leak to Nurik towards the middle of the floor. Lillard sneaks it off for easy drive and layout.

By this point, Vogel has seen enough. He pulls Harrell out of the game and replaces him with Kyle Kuzma, but the damage is done. Portland are leading with eight playing less than two minutes and the fourth-quarter Lakers defense allowed 134.8 points per 100 assets in the final frame. Game over. Blazer’s victory.

And it was a groundbreaking victory on many levels. A healthy and engaged Anthony Davis would be better able to cover for Harrell on his Mistaps. If Harrell had been rested at some point in the 16 minutes at the time, he would have been more capable of playing a more active defensive role as required by Vogel’s game-plan. Ultimately this was a coaching loss, however, Vogel did not put his player in the best possible position for success. He asked the aggressive sixth man to defend one of the most dangerous plays of all basketball., And he burned for it.

At some level, it was probably intentional. The Lakers have four games in a 72-game slog. They have 11 players for the main minutes who have yet to figure out which one fits them best. There is no need to prioritize home-court benefits when your biggest competitor shares in your area. Vogel’s goal is not to win every regular-season game, but to use it for postseason preparation. He wanted to see how Harel would respond defensively in crunch time against the contender. His fourth quarter minute was an experiment.

But it was a failed experiment. The Lakers have now seen what happens when they leave their defensive identity late in the game. The mistake that can easily get your claim denied is to fail. Harrell can play a valuable role on this team. He just won’t be able to play the specific role he was asked for on Monday. When it comes to counting, Davis or Mark Gasol should be at the center to maximize the defense that ultimately made the Lakers champions. The Lakers hope they never blow again.