It appears the calendar year turning to 2017 alone wasn’t enough to save the Los Angeles Lakers from being one of the NBA’s worst teams. The purple and gold take a shameful four-game losing streak into their Tuesday night matchup against the Denver Nuggets, and at this point it’s fair to believe this is what the Lakers are.
This isn’t all that bad, considering where they were and where they appear to be headed. Clearly this group isn’t ready to be a stable playoff-pushing team, but the seeds are being sowed regardless. The holes in where they are right now have sprung a leak and the ship be sinking mateys, which is fine. That ship — the one that gave the appearance of a surprising young team poised to fight for playoff contention through the regular season — was ahead of schedule. Consider it a demo of what will be.
Larry Nance, Jr. being out has caused the Lakers to stretch Thomas Robinson fairly thin, and while he’s performed while in pinches, it’s too much to ask for him to plug the gap typically plugged by Leaping Larry. The Lakers are getting crushed on the boards and around the rim, as they have been all year.
The Nuggets are always a great test to measure D’Angelo Russell with, on the other hand. Emmanuel Mudiay will remain the bar for Russell, and overall D’Angelo has come out looking like the clear-cut better prospect. Mudiay’s Sophomore season is nearly identical to his rookie year, while Russell is having a slightly-better campaign than his first with LA. It’s hard not to look forward to watching the two lottery-pick point guards locking up.
Danilo Gallinari leads the Nuggets in scoring while Wilson Chandler attempts the highest amount of field-goal attempts per game, so expect the Lakers’ perimeter defense to be put to the test. Brandon Ingram has a great chance to make a big impact with his length on that end.
Back-to-back games against two of the best teams in the league in the Clippers and Spurs may have skewed how things look right now for the Lakers, so let’s see if this paints a prettier picture. Enjoy the game.
Time: Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV
TV: 7:30 p.m. PT