After the Lakers fell to Portland in overtime Tuesday night, head coach Luke Walton checked the tape and was “pleased” by how his team performed upon second viewing.
The Lakers are halfway through preseason, having won and lost twice apiece, and one area that the coach highlighted at Wednesday’s practice was how D’Angelo Russell and co. have been able to work through perimeter defenses.
“We’re doing a really good job of penetrating and putting pressure on defenses with little interior passes and trying to get downhill on things,” Walton said. “But the weak side’s wide-open.”
Walton wants his team to take advantage of open players on the weak side in order to force the defense to rotate even more.
He was also happy with how the Lakers approached Portland, their first playoff foe of the preseason and one he called “a different type of team” due to unique players like Damian Lillard, who dropped 30 points.
However, Walton did admit that the process of getting his players to foul less has been “not very good,” as they allowed 29 free throw attempts by the Trail Blazers and opponents are averaging 33.8.
With the team flying to Las Vegas on Wednesday for its next two exhibitions, the Lakers trimmed their roster for the first time in preseason, waiving Julian Jacobs, Travis Wear and Zach Auguste.
“It’s not fun,” Walton said. “These guys have been here with us since before the season even started, giving us everything they had.”
Jacobs and Wear each played 11 minutes apiece through four games, while Auguste did not make an appearance for Los Angeles.
Walton said that he would like to see all three players suit up for the team’s D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, but acknowledged that their availability would depend on offers received from other teams domestically or overseas.
The Lakers will need to cut two more players before the start of the regular season on Oct. 26.