The Lakers diagnosed their problem last year (and playing Boston tight in the finals means there wasn't that many problems) and decided it was defense. Good on them.
"The new rules in the NBA game that have been adopted in the last what four or five years - I think Shaquille [O'Neal] called then the 'Shaq rules to stop me from scoring'. Those rules have changed our game," said Jackson before the Lakers' home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers. "Now you can load up a side and you can do things that change the game. Last year we experimented with it at times but we didn't whole-heartedly adapt what other team's have been taking advantage of with the new rules situation."
Others have dissected the SOS D better than I can, but what I'll add is that a new challenge offers the side benefit of engrossing the players and elevates playing D. Derek Fisher, Vlad, Gasol and others are, as individual players, below average on D, so spending a lot of time getting them prepared can only help. "The thing that we want to do is be a great defensive team consistently. Offensively we believe we can score with anybody," said Bryant. "Defensively is where we really want to make our mark on the season."