The loss itself didn’t have an effect on their place in the standings, but it was a little disappointing to see them lose to one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. It also reinforced the theory posed by some that the Lakers are only good because they’ve played lesser teams. After their loss to the Mavericks, their record against teams above .500 was a pedestrian 3-3.
The Lakers responded to that loss with a statement win against the Denver Nuggets — one of the top-three teams in the Western Conference. Following their impressive 105-96 win, Frank Vogel told reporters that the team wanted to avoid the same mistakes they made against Dallas, particularly when it came to how they responded to adversity (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“The lesson we learned from the Dallas game is that you can’t let a couple of bad calls impact your focus ... Tonight we played through it with poise and composure and calm mental adjustment, rather than anger and frustration … Our team has a great growth mindset, and that’s why we got the W tonight.”
James admitted that the Lakers weren’t as sharp as they needed to be against Dallas, but he was happy with the way they bounced back:
“When Dallas made a run we allowed a lot of things to affect us, and tonight it was the complete opposite … That’s growth mindset. We learned from our mistake and we got better.”
Games like the one against Denver are going to be what separates the Lakers from the pretenders in the Western Conference. They’re going to lose some games, but as long as they’re able to get up and come together for their biggest tests, they’ll be among the favorites for the title going into the postseason.
Their next big test will come against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, Dec. 19. Less than a week later, they’ll play the LA Clippers for the second time this season. If they win both of those games, it will be hard to put any team above them when ranking the league’s contenders.