As the rest of the digital world throws dirt on the good name of the Los Angeles Lakers, let's be positive here for a minute.
The Lakers actually grabbed more rebounds than their opponents, grabbing four more boards than a Nuggets team with talented clean-up men like Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov and J.J. Hickson. For a roster that has the worst rebounding differential in the league by three per game, that's a huge moral victory.
The Show also kept their miscues to a minimum--well, for them anyway--as they only turned the ball over 14 times to Denver's 12 turnovers. Not the most sterling number in the world, but excellent for a young team whose offensive attack is so contingent on ball movement. So that's great!
The Lakers showed vast improvement from some of their young guys who have looked almost non-existent as of late. Kendall Marshall didn't shoot well again (3 for 9), but dished 14 assists to only 1 turnover. Rookie Ryan Kelly shed the corpse costume he's been wearing the past several weeks, dropping 24 points, including 4 three-pointers. Jordan Farmar also continued his campaign to be the team's starting point guard next season, dropping 24 points on just 14 shots.
Overall, the Lakers showed far more fight than the embarrassing basketball apocalypse they put on display last night. The team competed all night long, keeping the game within double digits for the majority of four quarters. They fought for boards, tried to force turnovers and generally had more energy in their legs even considering the Denver air and it being the second game of a back-to-back set. There were times last night when the Clippers were bouncing the ball off the floor for lobs, right in the middle of three Lakers "defenders". Tonight? The fast-paced track meet from both sides would see none of that.
But the bad news? The Lakers were energetic but still horrible defensively.
LA gave up at least 132 for the third game in a row, a truly disgraceful mark for any NBA team. The high-flying Nuggets were still able to drop all those points on them considering personnel losses to JaVale McGee, Nate Robinson and Danilo Gallinari. Denver shot 54% overall, 58% from the arc and heaved 99 shots in a 48 minute game. The Nuggs beat up the Lakers in the paint, including an amazing 32 and 13 from Kenneth Faried who simply could not be stopped in the second half. Ty Laws--surprise, surprise, a speedy point guard--destroyed LA from just about everywhere on the court, hitting five three pointers en route to a 30 point night and dishing 17 assists to boot.
Still, even with the loss, the Lakers have to be somewhat encouraged that they didn't lay another absolute stinker in a very tough back-to-back set in an arena that's always given them trouble. It was a flawed performance to be sure, but at this point in the season, the value is sometimes in the contrast. Of course, when the compared product is the worst loss in team history, perhaps that optimism is as faulty as the Lakers' defense.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino