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Darvin Ham on the keys to the Lakers’ offensive excellence

Their 130-112 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday notwithstanding, the Los Angeles Lakers may be perking up a bit offensively. They blew out the Portland Trail Blazers 134-110 on Sunday, giving them three wins in their last four games and five in their last eight.

While they’re still only at .500 and in ninth place in the Western Conference, their offense has shown some signs of promise lately. Their transition game has been improving in recent games, and they scored 35 fast-break points on Sunday after putting up 32 fast-break points in Wednesday’s win over the Dallas Mavericks and 21 on Monday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Overall, L.A. is fourth in the NBA in fast-break points a game this season. But so far in January, it is tops in that category at 19.3 points per contest. In particular, it has helped D’Angelo Russell, who scored 34 on Sunday and has averaged 27.2 points a game while shooting 53.7% from 3-point range in his last five contests.

After Sunday’s win, head coach Darvin Ham said that pushing the pace and consistently looking to fast break opens up vistas for Russell and the Lakers’ offense in general (at 2:43).

“Whenever we play with pace, whenever we push the ball, we’re consistent with our running habits, we’re forceful with our running habits, all types of things are gonna open up,” said Ham. “And again, we stress a multitude of ways to put pressure on a defense and early in transition, really starting with great defense. But even still, [when] the other team makes a field goal, getting the ball out quick, rushing it up the floor, getting into what we need to get into in order to be able to explore multiple options.”

When the Lakers have managed to play well this season, it has been because they have gotten stops, controlled their defensive backboards and consistently beaten their opponents downcourt to create transition opportunities. In spite of all their flaws and deficiencies this season, it’s the one thing they do as well as any team in the NBA.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire