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Lakers fall in the Mile High without Russell Westbrook

The Lakers winless streak continues with another blowout loss, this time at the hands of Joker and the Nuggets.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers came into Wednesday night’s game winless and facing off against Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets. They came out still winless, getting blown out 110-99.

The game started fast on both ends, and with Austin Reaves getting the start because Russell Westbrook is dealing with a hamstring injury, the team was shooting better and scoring more. The team shot better overall, 40% from the field, but the three-point shooting continued to be poor, going 2-for-9 in the first. Another shocking stat was LeBron going scoreless in the first and only having one field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the quarter.

In the second, LeBron started taking charge offensively. He scored 7 of the team’s first 13 points to start the quarter. On the other side, Joker got going in the second with beautiful passes, a couple of tough shots against Anthony Davis, and Denver dominated the boards 29-23, but given how badly the Lakers have been losing the battle of the boards a six-rebound gap is an improvement. The Lakers kept fighting and ended the quarter with a 13-3 run. The closing minute was a beautiful sequence for the purple and gold. It started with an AD lob, a steal, a Lonnie Walker layup, and another steal, followed by an Anthony Davis layup making the game even at 54 entering halftime.

The Lakers have lost every third quarter this season. Wednesday was no exception. The Nuggets dominated the paint and outscored the Lakers 32-17 in the half. On the road against a Western Conference favorite, that’s not going to get it done. Near the eight-minute mark, we got our most recent Anthony Davis injury scare when he jumped up to contest a shot and took a forearm to the back from Joker. This injury is no surprise, as AD has had low back issues since preseason. Luckily he was able to return and looked healthy, given the circumstances.

In the fourth, the Lakers never really got going or closed the gap substantially. Matt Ryan hit a jumper to cut the lead to seven, and after that, it was all Nuggets. The only other highlight from the Lakers in the fourth was an animated Darvin Ham getting T’d up in frustration with the officiating. The Lakers kept things competitive for as long as they could, but ultimately, the Nuggets are just the better team.

Key Takeaways

Lonnie Walker IV is good at basketball. In this early season, he has career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. There is a lot going wrong for the Lake Show in this early start to the season, but Walker has performed above and beyond all expectations, anyone could have realistically had of him.

While Walker has been spectacular, the rest of the supporting cast has been lacking. Where is the production from Kendrick Nunn? 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist is not enough with Russ being out. Patrick Beverley has also been pedestrian, with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Yes, Pat Bev is more about the ex-factor, like putting pressure on ball handlers and doing the little things, but I didn’t see any of those impact plays on display on Wednesday, and I’ve seen less and less of it this season. The reality is this team needs to play a near-perfect game to win in the West, and the Lakers don’t stand a chance with players underperforming.

The bad news is only four teams in NBA history have gone 0-4 and made the playoffs. The good news is Russell Westbrook was on two of those teams: the 2020-21 Washington Wizards and the 2018-19 Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s see if Russ can add the 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers to this odd stat. I mean, why not?

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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