EL SEGUNDO — Following the Lakers’ 113-95 loss to the Jazz on Friday night, center JaVale McGee expressed frustration with Los Angeles’ failure to adjust on defense to Utah’s pick-and-roll attack.
Countless times, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert burned the Lakers, who used a deep drop to defend the pick-and-roll.
“They were definitely just exploiting the pick-and-roll. I feel like they were getting too deep,” McGee said Friday. “Maybe we should have changed our coverage from a drop to get up a little more, but we didn’t.”
Lakers head coach Luke Walton showed the team film of these sequences before practice Saturday.
Following the practice, he said he didn’t mind McGee’s opinion, but insisted the Lakers’ defensive struggles Friday had more to do with execution than scheme.
“When we’re playing it the way we should, we’re actually really good in our deep drop,” Walton explained. “We clog up that paint. We got long perimeter guards to give the back pressure. It’s one of our better coverages; we didn’t do it great last night.
“To us as a coaching staff, it’s always, ‘Let’s just play our coverage better.’”
NO NIGHTS OFF
After a stretch in which the Lakers have lost four of six, albeit without injured forward LeBron James (strained left groin), you’d think the 8-35 Cleveland Cavaliers coming to Staples Center on a 12-game losing streak Sunday would be a welcome sight.
But after losing to a Knicks team last week that was on a similar weeks-long skid, the Lakers don’t want to get caught in a trap, especially after barely escaping Cleveland with a 109-105 win in November.
“We got to learn from the past, learn from the mistakes we made,” Walton said. “[The Cavaliers] are very capable of playing. If we have that same mentality we did against the Knicks, there’s no reason they can’t beat us.”
The Lakers will be hosting a familiar face, too.
It’s been 11 months since the trade that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers to the Cavaliers. Nance will miss Sunday’s game with a sprained MCL, but Clarkson has been quietly having one of the better seasons of his career.
The fifth-year guard, whom the Lakers picked in the second round of the 2014 draft, is averaging a career-high 17.1 points per game while shooting a career-best 45.7 percent from the floor.
Against the Lakers in November, Clarkson scored 20 points while going 4 for 8 from behind the 3-point line.
“I bet Jordan’s pretty excited,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. “Guessing he’s going to try give it all he’s got, especially coming back to L.A. playing us. So I expect him to try to come out and have a good game, so we got to be ready for that.”
Lakers reserve Michael Beasley had a scare Friday night when he injured his right hand on a defensive possession late in the game.
But the X-rays Friday night were negative, and he was a full participant at practice Saturday, removing any doubt that he’d be able to play against the Cavaliers.
Center Tyson Chandler, though, had a limited day as Walton monitors the 18-year veteran’s workload on days after games. That left the Lakers with nine players for Saturday’s practice.
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