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The Lakers won another game in nail biting fashion. The entire season they have only managed to hold a double-digit lead and win a single time. Every other game they held a lead in double digits, they either blew the game or squeaked out the win.

After ranking dead last the prior week in net rating for third quarters, the Lakers have made substantial improvements lately. They currently rank 24th in third quarter net ratings, which is a sign they are paying more attention to coming out of halftime more focused and determined.

The Lakers outscored the Pistons by 10 points in the third quarter, including a furious 16-0 run. After the win against Detroit, Frank Vogel talked about the team seemingly finally turning the corner in third quarter success.

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“I just thought our third quarter was our best defensive quarter. We’ve won five out of eight third quarters coming into tonight, now I guess six out of nine. Obviously, it was a troubled area for us. The Minnesota game was our biggest one, and we knew we had to do better there, so we made the adjustment and have improved there. I challenge these guys to be a great defensive team.”

After building a comfortable double digit lead heading in the fourth quarter, the Pistons rallied and made a game out of it. The Lakers allowed the Pistons to score 36 points in the final frame, giving the young team confidence that they could come back and steal the victory. Vogel talked about the shortcomings the team still has in maintaining leads.

“Everytime you get a lead the other team’s coach is going to try to change the game. Obviously, they switched to zone, and they played with a nine second mindset. They raced it down and shot threes everytime down. We did not do a good enough job defending the three-point line. That’s an area we have to improve on. When we have a lead, we have to take the three-ball out. There’s way too many breakdowns or short close outs or playing first quarter defense, when they looking to bomb threes. We have to adjust.”

When the team has leads, players tend to be slow on closeouts on three-point shooters. This was one of the main culprits in how they lost Friday’s game against Sacramento. Too many times the purple and gold would give up offensive rebounds, only to see second chance points be converted for quick three-balls from opponents.

The most consistent thing about this team is how Vogel sounds like a broken record emphasizing defense and consistency throughout all his postgame interviews. A lot of that has to do with the lack of proper personnel, but we should get a better prognosis on the teams’ progress as the quality of opponents start to improve.