LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers in another defensive doozy fell to their fifth straight loss to the Denver Nuggets 127-121.
The Nuggets from the get-go held control of the game and were able to hold off a strong push late by the Lakers to grab their seventh win at Staples Center over the Lakers. Here are a few takeaways from Tuesday’s contest:
Defensive Woes Continues
In line with the Lakers’ slow start defensively, it set the tone for a disappointing night on that end of the floor against Denver.
The Nuggets put together a strong around outing finishing with 127 points on 56.8 percent shooting from the field including 42.3 percent from beyond the arc. They had six players in double-figure scoring with at least 14 points with all their starters reaching that mark.
In fact, Denver’s starting unit was responsible for 103 scored on the night. During their three-game winning streak, they are averaging 130.7 points and 33.0 assists.
All of this negated what was a strong offensive team performance led by the bench being responsible for 68 points scored. This included four reserves in double figures led by Lou Williams notching a team-high 24 points. Jordan Clarkson also chipped in with 19 points and also marked their first loss this season when scoring at least 120 points.
“These are the dog days of the NBA season, now until the All-Star break,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “It’s tough. People are worn down, we’re losing ball games but that’s not okay in my opinion.
“We have a good group fo guys here, and we all know that we’re trying to build for something bigger and better down in the future, and we can’t afford to waste opportunities and days.”
The talk prior to Tuesday’s tilt for the Lakers centered around carrying a strong level of intensity, which the team responded with little of that on the defensive end in the first quarter.
Denver torched Los Angeles to the tune of 40 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the field, including 75 percent from beyond the arc (6-of-8) along with 12 assists and 20 points in the paint. All five of their starters had at least six points along with all but two points coming from that unit.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles shot just 37.5 percent from the field that put them in a double-digit deficit by quarter’s end. Despite a better offensive push in the second quarter, the Nuggets ended the first half shooting 64.1 percent from the field with all but eight points coming from their starters.
This put Los Angeles behind the eight ball for the remainder of the game playing from behind. If they hope to turn things around, it clearly will all have to start on the defensive end of the floor.
With Luol Deng out of the lineup due to a sprained right wrist, Ingram drew his 12 start of the season putting together a respectable all-around individual performance scoring 15 points with five rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Ingram was a factor on both ends of the floor making plays utilizing his length a versatility. It marked his 15 games scoring in double figures, which was his sixth in the last games.
Ivica Zubac played in an extended role once again putting together the best game of his young NBA career with his first double-double recording 11 points and 13 rebounds. The 19-year-old had career highs with blocks (three), five made field goals (five), and minutes played (26).
Following the game, Walton voiced much praise about his rookie center’s strong outing.
“He has a really good feel for the game of basketball,” Walton said. “He’s always in the right spot. The team feeds off it.”
It was performance that Zubac wasn’t surprised by much due to the work has been putting in the practice and the D-League with the Los Angeles Defenders.
“I’m not surprised,” Zubac said. “I have been working all season long. I have been really working hard and just waiting for my chance. I’m trying to prove that I’m a good player and that I could help my team and be the best player I can.”
Several of his teammates spoke highly of his play and envision a bright future ahead for the 2016 first round pick.
“Zubac has been great, I saw it this summer,” Nick Young said. “When I came back, I was like who is this guy? I went back and told my friends, man this guy is going to be good, he’s special. I’m just glad to see him stick with it.”
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Bob Garcia IV
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