The Los Angeles Lakers are undefeated in the early going this season, and their fast start has been fueled by a series of fast starts. After getting outscored in both the first and second quarters on ring night against Houston, the Lakers have outscored their opponents in 10 of 12 quarters before halftime. Their 7-0 start has been helped by strong first halves, specifically strong opening quarters. Here are the Lakers' leads (or deficit, in very few cases) after each quarter in the first half this season:
|Opponent||After 1st Qtr||At Half|
The Lakers have an average lead of seven and a half points after the first quarter, which accounts for over half of their point differential this season (which, like their record, is tops in the NBA). Part of this first quarter dominance can be attributed to their defense, writes C.A. Clark of Silver Screen and Roll:
So where am I seeing this "elite" defense? In the first quarter. The Lakers play far better D in the first quarter than in any other quarter of the game, and I don't think it's a coincidence.
Throwing out opening night against Houston (for obvious focus issues attributed to ring night), the Lakers have held four out of their six opponents at or below a point per possession in the first quarter, and three of the four well below 1.00 PPP. (FYI, the only difference between PPP discussed here and Offensive Rating" used earlier is a couple decimal places. If you want to stick with one system, just multiply PPP by 100.) The two games that don't fit in were both of the Lakers' road games, against theand , and in both cases the Lakers used a strong second quarter of defense to take control of the game.
The Lakers' next game is Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and they have a good shot to finish this week at 10-0. If they do happen to win their first three games, look to the first quarter as a big reason why.
For more Lakers news, analysis, and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.