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Player Grades: Lakers vs. Nuggets

Grading every Lakers player’s performance from the team’s 114-106 loss to the Nuggets.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The latest Lakers loss to the Nuggets felt a whole lot like the ones they suffered in the Western Conference Finals last year. With little separating the teams throughout the night and the score tied late, it was Denver who had another gear and pulled away late for the win.

Same song. Same dance.

The way things played out before those final moments was different this time with new faces playing new roles. But at a point in the season where there should be more questions than answers, the Lakers still are asking what they have.

That, though, is a different story for a different post. This one is for grading the contest.

Let’s grade the loss. As always, grades are based on expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.

Rui Hachimura

38 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1-5 FG, 0-2 3PT, -12

Well that’s a big oof from Rui tonight. As unimpactful a game as he’s had this year, and it could hardly have come on a worse night.

Considering how well he played against Denver in the playoffs last year, it was even more frustrating. Just a really woeful performance.

Grade: F

LeBron James

35 minutes, 25 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 9-20 FG, 2-6 3PT, 5-5 FT, -6

It wasn’t a great LeBron game, but it was game he turned it one when it mattered. In the second half, he had 19 points on 6-13 shooting and was a big part of the comeback.

He and Austin Reaves worked well in the pick and roll together and the pair went to that time and time again.

Grade: B+

Anthony Davis

38 minutes, 32 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks, 14-27 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4-6 FT, -11

What a performance from AD, who brought it across both halves. Against arguably the league’s best, he brought it and took it right to him. Nikola Jokic had six turnovers on the night and a lot of that featured AD’s defensive presence.

He’s bringing it night in and night out at this point, no matter the opponent.

Grade: A+

Austin Reaves

36 minutes, 15 points, 2 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, 6-16 FG, 2-7 3PT, 1-2 FT, -9

A mixed bag of results for Reaves. He started pretty slow shooting the ball but did eventually bounce back and hit a big shot late. Still, it was a pretty inefficient night in that regard.

However, he did a fantastic job as the point guard, dishing out 10 assists with just one turnover. He certainly gets props for that.

Grade: B+

Max Christie

15 minutes, 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 1-2 FT, -7

It was shaping up to be a really promising night for Christie, who was thrust into the starting lineup with D’Angelo Russell as a late scratch. He wasn’t necessarily efficient, but I always enjoy the aggressiveness Christie attacks with.

Unfortunately, it was one of those attacks on the rim that led to his injury. The hope now is it isn’t a serious or long-term injury that halts what’s been a promising season.

Grade: B+

Taurean Prince

34 minutes, 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT, 3-3 FT, +1

Something about Prince’s move to the bench has really made something click for him. He was a big reason the Lakers stayed attached to the Nuggets in the first half.

He’s had a number of strong showings in a row, which probably just further supports that he spent far too long in the starting lineup.

Grade: A

Christian Wood

19 minutes, 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1-1 FG, 1-2 FT, +7

As they attempted to do last season in the playoffs, the Lakers used both Wood and Jaxson Hayes as bigs alongside AD at times on Thursday. It worked about as well as you could hope given the circumstances.

Wood battled hard defensively and forced Jokic into tough shots at times. He had a solid outing, he was just outshined by his two fellow big men.

Grade: B-

Jaxson Hayes

17 minutes, 9 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 4-6 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT, -4

I’ve said a couple of times that it seems like Hayes has been having an out-of-body experience over the last week of games. On Thursday, I felt like I was the one having an out-of-body experience watching him play.

That was, without question, the best he’s played as a Laker. Considering the game, the opponent, all the context, he stepped up massively. He was the leader of the momentum swing and comeback.

Is this legitimate long term? I have my doubts. Is it fun right now? Unquestionably.

Grade: A+

Skylar Mays

7 minutes, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0-1 FG, +1

After Christie's injury, Mays made a short fourth-quarter cameo but impressed during it. If Christie can’t go on Friday or there’s a hole in the roster, Mays seems like a perfectly reasonable choice to get some minutes.

Grade: B+

Darvin Ham

There’s not a whole lot Darvin can do at this point with his hands being tied due to all the injuries. That said, the team did come out flat to start the game, most of that due to missing shots and the Nuggets not.

At the same time, they rallied in the second half and fourth quarter. And Ham found a lineup that worked in the fourth.

It was another game the Lakers were right there against the Nuggets but couldn’t get over the finish line. There’s some credit in that as well.

Grade: B+

Thursday’s DNPs: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Maxwell Lewis

Thursday’s inactives: D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Dylan Windler, Colin Castleton, Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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