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There’s been several common narratives for the Lakers disappointing season. Russell Westbrook’s play is the first chapter. Anthony Davis’ injury is the second. Lakers ownership’s lack of confidence in Frank Vogel is the third. The Lakers defense should be the prologue.

On Sunday, Vogel’s Lakers team allowed 69 points in the first half to the Miami Heat. Vogel complimented the Miami’s offensive movement, but also admitted that LA wasn’t defending as a team.

“This team [Miami] with their movement really challenges your defense. You have to be on point…your defense really has to be connected and we just had a few too many breakdowns and they made us pay with everything.”

The Lakers mounted a respectable comeback in the fourth quarter. They looked like a different team defensively. Most likely due to the fact that Vogel employed a different defensive strategy with their small-ball lineups.

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“Our smaller lineups have been struggling defensively so we’re incorporating more switching…like I said, guys have to be really connected and reading each other on the fly at high speeds with a very small margin for error.”

Vogel and the Lakers commitment to switching resulted in Miami shooting 38.9% from the field in the fourth quarter. As Vogel mentions, players have to be able to effectively communicate and work as a unit.

Vogel should be getting his best defender back for Tuesday’s game in Brooklyn. Per Bill Oram of The Athletic, Anthony Davis is now “probable” for the third leg of the Lakers six-game road trip. It will be Davis’ first game since spraining his MCL on December 17th.

The return of Davis can only help improve the Lakers defense. With Davis, the Lakers were 11th in defensive efficiency (107.2). Without him, the Lakers rank 24th (115.1).

According to Vogel, staying connected is the key to defense. The return of the Lakers defensive glue-guy should certainly help.