The defensive misery continued for the Los Angeles Lakers, as they fell to the Denver Nuggets, 120-109, at the STAPLES Center.
It has not been a stellar season for the Lakers thus far, like many thought it would. They have started the season with four consecutive losses and have all kind of defensive issues.
Tonight, the Lakers allowed 120 points on 50.6 percent shooting from the field and 35 percent shooting from three-point distance to Denver, which will not get the job done.
The Lakers actually started the game with better energy and determination, led by Jordan Clarkson’s 14 first quarter points, but they simmered down as the ball game progressed.
After leading by six at the end of one, the Lakers began to snooze in the second quarter and found themselves in a see-saw battle throughout the remainder of the contest, until Denver slowly began to seize control near the end of the third quarter.
Kenneth Faried, who has had a rather quiet start to the season, played 40 minutes, scored 28 points, and grabbed 15 rebounds on 10 of 13 from the floor and a perfect 8 for 8 from the foul line. The Manimal was giving the Lakers all kind of fits with his hustle and persistence. And due to the Lakers’ poor defense, he was getting easy baskets around the rim.
Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay also finished with a double-double, recording 12 points and 10 assists. He started the game 0 for 8 from the field until he knocked down a triple plus a foul midway through the third. From there, his offense picked up slightly, and the 19-year old ended up shooting 3 of 13. He did also add six turnovers, which has been a major flaw in his game so far. Mudiay is averaging a league-high 6.3 turnovers per contest to start his young career.
Mudiay’s rookie counterpart, D’Angelo Russell, had a solid game passing wise, as he dished out six assists, the most so far in his early career. Unfortunately, his shooting woes continued, as he shot 3 of 11 from the field for seven points. Russell was more involved in the offense tonight, as he was dishing efficiently, but he will need to improve his jump shot over time.
As previously mentioned Clarkson ignited the Lakers early and turned in a 30-point performance to tie his career-high. He also shot a very respectable 12 of 19 from the field, displaying a variety of ways to score.
Meanwhile, the struggles continued for Kobe Bryant. The 20-year veteran shot 4 of 11 for 11 points to go along with five assists and two steals. The 37-year old fired up a couple of air balls in this game, with one of those air balls coming at a very inopportune time.
Bryant showed his frustrations toward his insufficient play after Sunday’s loss, but his coach remains optimistic.
“Kobe’s the last person that I worry about. I’m not worried about him.” Byron Scott said.
Julius Randle, coming off a monstrous performance Sunday evening, put in 16 points and five rebounds, while Lou Williams compiled 24 points, five rebounds, and three steals off the bench and shot 16 of 19 from the free-throw line, drawing a handful of fouls beyond the arc.
Winning last year’s Sixth Man of the Year award, Williams has become a constant off Coach Scott’s bench. In fact, Williams has earned coach’s trust enough to remain on the floor late in fourth quarters.
Aside from Faried, Danilo Gallinari also had a solid night for Denver, scoring 21 points and nabbing eight boards on 50 percent shooting. Despite the Nuggets being without their big men, they still managed to out-rebound the Lakers, 49-41.
Denver also had 30 assists as a team, as their point guards were effectively distributing the ball, hurting the Lakers with simple scree-and-roll plays.
During the second half, Coach Scott utilized Tarik Black off the pine instead of Ryan Kelly, trying to determine whether Black’s size would help them defensively. Black didn’t make much of a difference on the defensive side, although he did put up seven points and eight rebounds.
So now the Lakers have dropped to 0-4 on the season and will head out of L.A. for a five-game road trip beginning Friday night in Brooklyn against the winless Nets. The Nuggets will head back home for a Thursday night bout against the Utah Jazz.