Showtime: 6:00 pm PT
Plot: Shall we forget about last night? Can we forget about last night? Please?
The Lakers are coming off their worst loss in franchise history, a fact that's only exacerbated by the victor of the match, their live-in rivals, the Clippers. All year long, the Show has been a maximum effort, minimum return type of team, but all that melted away in approximately 40 minutes of embarrassing, horrid basketball. The squad was without fight of any kind, a moment crystallized when the Clippers were throwing lobs to one another off the floor... with three Lakers in the paint seemingly just watching it happen. It was one of those games where you were embarrassed even just watching the game from behind the television set, a contest that I won't ever be able to forget.
That being said, the Lakers are going to have a very difficult time redeeming themselves in an arena where they almost always have a troublesome time claiming victory.
LA makes their way to the Rocky Mountains tonight, hopefully with enough adrenaline in them to overcome the thin air and tired legs from the second night of a back-to-back. The Nuggets are almost a lock to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2003, an amazing stretch for a franchise that was rather moribund before the arrival of Carmelo Anthony that same year. They've played decent ball this season through several crippling injuries, including losing Nate Robinson and Danilo Gallinari to torn ACLs, Ty Lawson to a broken rib and JaVale McGee to a stress fracture in his leg. Couple this with the loss of Andre Iguodala to free agency last summer, head coach George Karl's departure and GM Masai Ujiri's defection to Toronto, Denver might have never really had a chance to compete this season. Except against the Lakers, of course.
The Nuggets have blown out LA in the previous two meetings of the season, both by 22 points. There's no point in going over the gory details of those games, as we all know what the problems were: rebounding, defense against lethally quick guards and turnovers. Though the personnel might be slightly different, for all those reasons J.J. Hickson, Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov could wreak havoc if left unchecked, not to mention the perennial Lakers thorns Lawson and Aaron Brooks.
The Lakers will have all of their usual suspects tonight who should play better simply on the virtue of the fact that they couldn't play worse than they did against the Clippers. Even in a lost season, LA has to have a little more pride than they did last night. Losing happens. Playing like they did against the Clippers is simply unacceptable. Let's hope for a better effort tonight in a very, very tough arena.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino