On Sunday, November 4, the King’s new kingdom was severely humbled. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were left wondering what went wrong. Serge Ibaka and the Kawhi-less Toronto Raptors ran right through the defense of the Lakers. Kyle Lowry wove in and out of the Lakers defenders as if they were traffic cones, dishing out 15 assists along the way. The game was all but decided early on, as Toronto outscored the Lakers 42-17 in the first quarter. How could Los Angeles’ defense go from a decent defensive team last year to a train-wreck one year later? Luckily for them, the big help was on the way.
It was no secret coming into the season that the Lakers had some holes in the roster. LeBron and the Island of Misfit Toys had the flashy names of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley, but desperately lacked outside shooting and a backup center behind JaVale McGee. McGee suffers from Asthma, which can affect his stamina at times. They started the season with a rotating backup center position featuring Michael Beasley, Johnathan Williams, Ivica Zubac, and even a very undersized Kyle Kuzma. Teams were butchering the Lakers in the paint when McGee went out of the game.
To the surprise of the entire league, the Phoenix Suns and Tyson Chandler agreed to a buyout, allowing Chandler to become a free agent. The fact that Chandler was on the buyout market was not the surprise. The surprise was how early it happened. For the Lakers, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Tyson Chandler wasted no time making his presence felt, as he was a major factor in sealing the victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Up until that point, the Lakers had struggled to close out games. Chandler had several huge tap outs in the closing minute to give extra possessions to his new team, allowing the clock to run out. Since then, Tyson Chandler has brought a defensive mentality to Los Angeles. Since the acquisition of Chandler, the Lakers are one of the top defensive teams in the league, almost as if they flipped a switch.
The Lakers have now won three straight games, and it is easy to say things would have ended differently had they not signed Tyson Chandler. From his tough mentality to his clutch defensive plays, Chandler has proven that he has more in the tank that was on display in Phoenix.