The Lakers have excelled defensively of late

Lately, the Los Angeles Lakers have been without LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell, which has left them bereft of ball-handling, playmaking and efficient scoring.

Russell has missed their last six games in a row while James has been out for eight of their last 11 contests.

Yet, Los Angeles has gone 7-3 ever since Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, the three players it acquired in the Russell Westbrook trade, first debuted.

How has it done so? By getting things done in a department it has been struggling in for most of the last two seasons.

That’s right — believe it or not, the Lakers have been winning with defense.

Since the trade deadline on Feb. 9, they have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA, and during their current 10-game spurt, they rank first in that category at an impressive 107.6. It has held teams to 110 points or fewer six times during that span.

During that same 10-game span, the team is just 22nd in offensive rating, which makes what it has done lately all the more impressive.

The other huge factor is the play of Anthony Davis, who has averaged 33.0 points on 56.3 percent shooting, 13.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots in his last five contests.

It’s a formula that has allowed the Lakers to leap into ninth place in the Western Conference and could very well allow them to return to the NBA playoffs next month.

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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire