Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, in the United States, the Los Angeles Lakers — and the other 29 other NBA teams — won’t be playing basketball for at least another three months. For people that live and breathe basketball, that’s a really, really long time from now.
In an effort to make that wait a little less dreadful, we’ve decided we’re going to continue the season the only way we possibly can: On NBA 2K20. The game has its flaws, like the fact that Rajon Rondo has a B+ letter grade in both 3-point shooting and perimeter defense, but it’s the best basketball game on the market.
Due to many of you asking for it in the comments and on Twitter, and until the NBA season resumes, we’re going to simulate the Lakers’ remaining games on the schedule in NBA 2K20 on the days they were supposed to be played. It’s almost going to feel like things are normal... almost.
Admittedly, we didn’t get this going fast enough, so we’re going to recap the three games that would have already been played, starting with Thursday’s game against the Houston Rockets.
Before we get started, though, there are a few things that I should note:
- We used the “start today” option in MyLeague to jump to the current point in the schedule, so basically everything that happened with the real Lakers has happened to our virtual ones.
- None of the players around the league that were infected with coronavirus are affected in this simulation.
- DeMarcus Cousins signed a one-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets, for some reason.
With that in mind, let’s get started.
3/12: Lakers take season series vs. Rockets
The Rockets stunned the Lakers with the debut of their new, extreme version of small ball when they last played on Feb. 6, but that style has only been effective for Houston when their “bigs” are hitting making their 3-pointers, and they weren’t on Thursday.
In 29 minutes of play, Robert Covington shot 2-11 from the field, including 0-3 from behind the arc. The Lakers were also able to make Westbrook a non-factor, holding him to 12 points on 4-12 shooting from the field. If the Rockets’ supporting cast isn’t doing their part, they’re a beatable team, and the Lakers have done a good job on capitalizing on those opportunities this season. It also didn’t hurt that LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 56 points and 22 rebounds.
Final score: 123-114, Lakers
3/15: Anthony Davis dominates Nikola Jokic
If you were to make a five-man shortlist of MVP candidates, Nikola Jokic would likely be on it. For the second season in a row, Jokic is averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets are the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. However, Jokic has looked like a shell of himself whenever he’s played the Lakers this season, and Sunday’s game was no exception.
In 23 minutes, Jokic scored just 11 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Jokic was held under 20 points in three of the Nuggets’ four matchup with the Lakers, which is probably why they only won one game — a game in which LeBron James was hurt for.
The Lakers’ All-Star big man, Anthony Davis, enjoyed a bit more success on Sunday, racking up 30 points and 17 rebounds. Davis has now had nine games with at least 35 points this season.
Final Score: 109-94, Lakers
3/16: Lakers stay unbeaten against Jazz
The Utah Jazz got a little too much Jordan Clarkson on Monday night, as the former Lakers guard went 5-16 from the field in 30 minutes of play. Clarkson has been a surprisingly impactful player for the Jazz since they acquired him in December, but he was a team-low -21 in the box score on Monday,
Clarkson doesn’t deserve all of the blame, though — as a team, the Jazz shot 40% from the field, compared to the Lakers’ 55% from the field. They also allowed 48 points in the paint, which should finally put an end to Rudy Gobert’s Defensive Player of the Year campaign. The fact that Anthony Davis scored 24 points is the cherry on top.
Final Score: 138-102, Lakers
Check back in on Wednesday when we recap the Lakers’ fourth and final regular season matchup of the season with the Jazz.