The Los Angeles Lakers made a game of things down the stretch against the Denver Nuggets, but a 127-121 loss slipped away in the first quarter. The Lakers have now lost five games in a row, dropping to 15-31 on the season. A bench unit led by the scoring power of Lou Williams and paint presence of Ivica Zubac turned a blowout into a one-possession game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but it was another too-little, too-late story for Los Angeles.
The Lakers’ starters had a horrendous game across the board, and their effort coming out of halftime was enough to see Julius Randle, Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell benched early in the third and staying there through the remainder. Russell didn’t get on the board until late in the second quarter while Mozgov struggled dealing with Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets’ frontcourt.
Walton pulling the starting lineup in the middle of the third quarter was the unofficial end of the game, but what came next was arguably the best part. Lou William scored 14 points in the fourth, and a random bench rotation unit was once again chasing a win down to the final buzzer. Zubac was the headline, though, as he logged his first career double-double and played some solid minutes. The season is half way over, and it feels right to see him logging playing time.
Zubac showed some nifty passing, the outside touch we can only hope continues to develop and his size translating into boards. Seeing him put together 11 points and 13 rebounds was about as satisfying a 11-point, 13-rebound performance will ever be to witness.
The rest of it can be summed by the Lakers giving up 40 points in the first quarter, with Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried both scoring 10 in the first 12 minutes. Jokic finished with a game-high 29 points.
Hopefully the Lakers can take this losing streak to heart over the next two days, with their next game scheduled for Friday against the Indiana Pacers.