The Lakers have an 0-4 start for the first time since 2015-16.
Well, it continues.
The Lakers couldn’t get it done against the Denver Nuggets, 110-99. There was some hope that the Lakers could get a win because they were so close against the Clippers and the Blazers. A lot of Lakers fans were definitely optimistic that something good could happen when Austin Reaves replaced a hurt Russell Westbrook in the starting line-up.
The game started out sloppy for both teams, not unlike Sunday against Portland. 8 turnovers combined for both teams in the first 9 minutes. Was not a clean start at all.
Eventually, the Nuggets went up by 10 as Bruce Brown got hot (16 of his 18 points were scored in the first half). But the Lakers ended the half with a 13-3 run, including a couple of Anthony Davis alley-oop dunks and a quick alley-oop lay-up to beat the buzzer.
Unfortunately, the third quarter was not great for Los Angeles. Nikola Jokic took over the third quarter as the two-time MVP led the Nuggets on a 20-5 run. To make matters worse, Davis tweaked his back and it seemed to affect him the rest of the game. The Nuggets would outscore the Lakers, 32-17, in the third.
Still, the Lakers scored the first 8 points in the fourth quarter, capped off by an uncommon three-pointer (more on this later, of course) from Matt Ryan. LeBron James did his best to be aggressive, scoring 8 early fourth period points himself. But Jokic came back in and continued to wreak havoc. The Nuggets scored 7 in a row to bring the lead back to 15. And then Jokic ended the night with a one-legged jumper and a sublime pass to Uncle Jeff Green to raise the Laker deficit to 18.
The Lakers offense failed once again to generate points as they did not reach 100 points for the second time this season. It’s easy to say that Davis’s injury affected the game but the Lakers shot the three badly yet again. An 8 for 30 clip (.267) is actually better than what they had been doing previously but it’s still really poor shooting. But the Lakers felt stagnant a lot of the time. If it wasn’t for a few pick and rolls between LeBron and Davis at the end of the first half, I’m not sure if they would’ve reached 90.
Where the game really got away was the transition defense. The Nuggets sliced the Lakers with 35 fast break points, which is the most L.A. has allowed this season. Denver shot poorly from three (9 for 34, .265 and that’s a worse percentage than the Lakers) but beat them in points in the paint, 60-56. It’s not much but it’s where the Lakers usually shine and they didn’t even get the advantage on that. And of course, it’s tough to stop Jokic, who fell short of a triple-double (31-13-9 and he even had four steals!). The Lakers turned the ball over more (14-11; the Nuggets took care of the ball better in the second half) and LeBron James had 8 of those.
Davis finished with 22-14-5 while LeBron went for 19-7-9. Lonnie Walker IV was the only other player at double digits with 15 points.
The Lakers now go to Minnesota as they once again attempt to end this skid. Once again, the Lakers are 0-4 and at some point, they’re going to break through, right?
In the meantime, I think the Lakers missed another three-pointer.