Of course the Lakers had to fly to Denver to play the second night of a back-to-back after losing by 48 points to the Clippers. That is the way of the world for this team this season, and there was a time when they showed some fight towards the end of games. These last few losses, however, have been demoralizing.
The Denver Nuggets scored 77 first-half points and 59 second half points. After giving up 142 points last night, the Lakers gave up 134 tonight. There was a time when allowing a team to score 100 points over you was a bad thing. Allowing them to scored over 130, and even worse, 140, is beyond comprehension. 134-126 – wow.
Capability vs. Reality – Looking at the box score and the stat sheet, the Lakers didn’t play a completely terrible game. They outrebounded the Nuggets, made just two less three pointers, handed out almost as many assists, their bench outscored Denver’s 68-28, they had more blocks, just one less turnover and even attempted and converted more free throws than the home team. The difference? Defense – neither team was playing any. The Nuggets didn’t exactly lock down the Lakers defensively (they 126 points!), but the plan for both teams was clear – who can score the most? Had the Lakers put in as much effort into keeping Denver from scoring, as they do trying to score themselves, this game would not have gotten away from their reach as quickly as it did. Did they do some good things in this game? Absolutely. Did they do good things under all the categories necessary to win? No…but they could have.
Ryan Kelly – It’s been awhile since Kelly had a productive game, and tonight he went for it, scoring 24 points on 7-14 shooting, and grabbed 11 rebounds in the process.
Jordan Farmar – 24 points on 8-14 from the field, four assists. What Kendall Marshall lacks in scoring lately, he makes up for in playmaking. Farmar coming off the bench, however, is a point guard who can light it up. He went 4-5 from downtown tonight and was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line as well.
Pau Gasol – Gasol has put together a string of solid games of late. Tonight he chipped in 27 points on 12-21 from the field. The downside? He had five rebounds, none of which were on the offensive end.
And lastly, DEFENSE – Giving up 132 points to the Pelicans wasn’t enough. Allowing the Clippers to score 142 points was still not enough. So they went for it – a third straight game giving up more than 130 points to their opponent. The Lakers shot 57% from the field in the first quarter. A great percentage…unless you’re Denver and shoot 75% from the field, resulting in a 35-point first quarter. The Lakers had a few runs in them, but scoring wasn’t their issue. Exchanging baskets with the Nuggets is one thing, but they’ve gotten into a bad habit of scoring on their end, and then lollygagging back on defense. Tonight, the Lakers would score and in a matter of seconds, Denver was off and running for an uncontested layup or dunk. The Lakers’ most recent field goal was quickly negated. In possessions when they came up empty, Denver took advantage and led by as much as 23 points.
A friend texted after the game, “Yesterday I was happy they didn’t lose by 50 and won the fourth. Today I’m happy they didn’t lose by double digits and won the fourth.” Desperation – everyone is desperate for anything positive to come from these unwatchable “contests.” With 19 games left in the season, however,