The season of poor defense continues for the Lakers as they lose to the Denver Nuggets, 114-126. Even though Dwight Howard, the anchor of the defense, was ejected for a questionable Flagrant-2 foul early in the 3rd quarter, the Lakers were unable to match the Nuggets’ energy and hustle all night long.
The Nuggets outscored the Lakers in the paint by 20 while also getting the benefit of the whistle on more than a few occasions. Laker Nation is hoping that Coach D knows what he’s doing by not playing Devin Ebanks and Antawn Jamison more often, especially when Kobe plays 44 minutes in the game.
The star performer of the night was Kenneth Faried who embarrassed the Lakers by outhustling every man on the court for loose balls and offensive rebounds. The Lakers can’t afford to linger around the .500 mark all season, and they absolutely cannot continue to lose games to teams they are chasing in the standings. The Trailblazers come into the Staples Center looking to beat the Lakers for a second time this season; let’s see how this team responds. Here are the grades for Wednesday night’s L:
Steve Nash: B
When the game got close in the 4th quarter, Nash didn’t quite deliver as he did 24 hours prior against the Knicks. The Lakers looked discombobulated on offense and putrid on defense. Although Nash prefers to get others involved first, he really needs to be aggressive in trying to score because the Lakers’ shooters are very streaky and do not cut to the basket very well.
Kobe Bryant: A-
This, along with the poor defense, has become the recurring theme for the Lakers this season: the Lakers are better when Kobe shoots less, but his teammates have yet to prove to him that they can be trusted. Aside from Steve Nash, I don’t think Kobe trusts any of his teammates to make the right decision. Therefore, he reverts to trying to take over the game offensively instead of spreading the ball around and giving maximum effort on the defensive end. The Lakers need to figure out how to play effectively with Kobe as well as lower his minutes because Kobe will be needed much more during the postseason.
Metta World Peace: C
Metta is the spark plug that energizes this Lakers team on the defensive end and against the Nuggets the energy was nowhere to be found. The Lakers were slow to react and let the Nuggets grab offensive rebounds with no resistance. Though it may sound unfair, it’s up to Metta (and Jordan Hill) to bring the energy and intensity to negate teams from outhustling the Lakers.
Pau Gasol: C
It’s tough to give Pau a bad grade, but he was not up to the task of playing center once Dwight was ejected. Pau was late on his rotations and did not bother boxing anyone out for rebounds. The Nuggets drove into the lane without hesitation as soon as they realized Dwight wasn’t on the court anymore. The main reasons Pau is not on the trading block yet are because of his size and basketball IQ. When you are 7 footer who does not defend the rim, grabs a measly 6 rebounds, and gets outclassed by a guy in Kenneth Faried that is 5 inches shorter than you, you are making it very difficult for management not to make a trade.
Dwight Howard: C+
Can’t blame Dwight for getting ejected when a.) The foul did not warrant a Flagrant-2, it was a Flagrant-1 at most and b.) His teammates are constantly getting beat off the dribble and once Dwight rotates to help, nobody is rotating to his man who gets the easy put back or rebound. Still, Dwight needs to know how important every single game is for the Lakers now that they have dug themselves into such a deep hole with their sub .500 record.
Jordan Hill: B
Would’ve been nice to see J. Hill get more than 13 minutes in a game where the Lakers are getting pummeled on the offensive glass.
Chris Duhon: F
Our backup point guard played 17 minutes and tallied 2 points, 1 assist, and 0 rebounds. Please come back soon, Steve Blake.
Jodie Meeks: F
Bad shooting night for and the hustle that we normally see from his was absent as well. Guys like Jodie, Jordan, and CD need to realize that they are hustle players and need to bring the extra energy when their teammates are clearly lacking it.