How Lakers must guard Westbrook

If Los Angeles doesn't learn from Ty Lawson, it won't have a Round 3

Updated: May 13, 2012, 5:15 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine
Russell WestbrookRichard Rowe/US PresswireRussell Westbrook will be an aggressor the Lakers must learn to defend.

After a series of breakthrough performances by several Los Angeles Lakers under pressure to deliver -- think Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace -- the team can breathe a sigh of relief in the wake of dispatching a talented Denver Nuggets team that fought bitterly to the end.

But there was one huge takeaway from the series that the Lakers must address if they are going to make it to the NBA Finals: The Lakers were absolutely burned by Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, who turned in individual games of 25, 25, 32 and 24 points. The diminutive, third-year speedster carved up the Lakers' defense in both the half court and transition with quickness, smarts and some surprisingly hot shooting. The Lakers simply had no answer for him.

Lawson's mesmerizing performance magnified a season-long weakness of the Lakers: athletic, attacking point guards. Turns out such players are the purple and gold's very Kryptonite.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine