The Nuggets stumbled and bumbled their way to a road loss, with a 116-120 defeat at the hands of the esteemed gentleman Nick Young.
Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 17 rebounds, with most of that production coming in the first half, to lead the Nuggets. Wilson Chandler broke out of a slump with 26 points and 9 rebounds off the bench.
The Lakers had D’Angelo Russell record his first double-double (how cute) with 22 points and 10 assists, many of those dimes coming on dropoffs to Bosnian center Ivica Zubac, who finished with 17 points on 9 shot attempts.
The Nuggets started the game with the LA flu (which I’m told is a hangover?), playing sloppy with horrible shot selection and turnovers. The Lakers were up 17-9 when Jusuf Nurkic went to the bench, and the Nuggets responded with a 21-13 run to close out the final six minutes of the quarter.
Kenneth Faried was beasting in the first half, with 10 points and 9 rebounds to help the Nuggets keep pace on offense with the Lakers. Neither team was too interested in playing defense, with players on both sides making enough mistakes to allow the defenses to relax and wait for mistakes to be made.
Wilson Chandler had been going through a bit of a rough stretch as of late, but took advantage of the Lakers lack of talent and experience on the second unit. Chandler and Darrell Arthur were up to the task of putting the ball in the hoop, combining for 20 points in the half.
The Nuggets had one of their worst quarters in recent history after the halftime break, scoring 17 points over an awful 12 minutes of basketball. Nurkic continued to actively harm the Nuggets, with the shot selection of a bucket of vomit mixed in with a few turnovers as garnish. The team wasn’t taking too many bad shots, but they missed 15 shot attempts in the quarter.
Arthur started the fourth quarter with some stellar play on both ends of the court, helping close the five point lead the Lakers had at the end of the third quarter. Back to back three pointers gave the Nuggets an 82-81 lead, and the game was on from there.
Both teams started launching 3-pointers, with Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson bombing away from distance. Juancho and Jamal canned a couple long range shots, but Ivica Zubac helped the Lakers go on a 13-3 run after the Nuggets were first to reach the 100 point mark.
The Nuggets kept giving Zubac space to get off a floater in the lane, and the Lakers kept putting him in the pick and roll to rack up points late.
Nurkic hasn’t improved since his rookie year. He’s still making the same mistakes that he was making his first season in the league. He moves too fast in the post, he turns the ball over, and he takes possessions off on defense when he isn’t successful on offense. The fact that he began the season as a starter is dumbfounding based off his current level of play. His trade value is about as low as possible.
The offense is good, but there are lazy moments. The veteran players have been asked to shoulder the load with Jokic out, and there is too much standing around and one-on-one basketball. The Nuggets have talented offensive players, so they’re still able to score a ton of points, but it’s not an efficient offense like it is when Jokic is in the lineup.
They can’t be lazy for a few possessions and expect to win games. The best teams in the league take advantage of each opportunity they have to score. It’s one thing for the young players to make mental mistakes - the veterans should know better.
The Lakers guards got whatever they wanted. Nick Young, D’Angelo Russell, and Lou Williams scored 66 of the Lakers 120 points tonight. It’s one thing to win games with your offense, but I don’t know, maybe try to figure out how to stop dribble penetration over the All-Star break. The worst offenders won’t be busy with any league activities.
Briante Weber, the top point guard in the D-League, nearly had a quadruple-double tonight, with 18 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds, and 9 steals. He also was the lead guard in the vaunted Havoc VCU defense of yesteryear. Just thought y’all should know that.