Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 137, Lakers 115
January, 5, 2014
By Ramona Shelburne
LOS ANGELES -- Pau Gasol remained a Los Angeles Laker on Sunday as the team continued to weigh a deal centered around former Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
He also remained on fire. The four-time All Star continued his resurgent play with another solid outing against the Denver Nuggets, in which he finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
But in a continuing theme for the Lakers this season, the team just didn’t have enough in a 137-115 loss to the previously slumping Nuggets.
Playing again with just one healthy point guard, the Lakers struggled to organize their offense when Kendall Marshall was out of the game, and besides Gasol and shooting guards Jodie Meeks (23 points) and Nick Young (21 points), they really couldn’t muster much scoring. Their defense was abysmal, too, allowing the Nuggets to shoot 53.5 percent from the field.
Reserve guard Nate Robinson led Denver with 21 points. Ty Lawson and Timofey Mozgov had 20, and Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried both had 17.
Both teams came into the game with shadows hovering overhead. The Lakers, with the trade chatter around Gasol and maddening string of injuries, and the Nuggets, with the suspension of veteran guard Andre Miller for conduct detrimental to the team, as well as a recent swoon that saw them lose eight out of their previous 10 contests coming into Sunday’s game.
How it happened: The Lakers had a nice rhythm going in the first half but struggled to score in the second half, and the Nuggets pulled away with a 17-2 run in the third quarter that put them up 79-67. The Lakers cut that lead down to 83-79 on free throws by Jordan Hill with 1:58 to go in the third, but Denver surged back to take a 10-point lead into the final frame, and the Lakers never seriously challenged again.
What it means: The Lakers were hoping to build some momentum after a resurgent win against the Utah Jazz on Friday before leaving on a tough back-to-back through Texas this week, but it didn’t happen Sunday. They fall to 14-20 on the season and are falling so far below .500 it’s hard to see how they can get back into a playoff chase.
Hits: The Lakers may really have found themselves a keeper in Marshall, who continued to impress since taking over as the Lakers' starting point guard. Marshall finished with nine points and 17 assists against the Nuggets. He had 20 points and 15 assists Friday night in the over Utah. He struggled with his shot Sunday -- hitting just three of 10 shots -- but the Lakers need him for playmaking and defense, not scoring.
Misses: It’s always going to be difficult to outrebound the Nuggets, who have excellent rebounders in Faried, Darrell Arthur and Mozgov. But you’re not going to win many games when the other team completely controls the glass, as Denver did Sunday, outworking the Lakers 58-38.
Stat of the night: The Lakers were an ugly 3-for-21 from behind the 3-point arc. The Nuggets were a respectable 12-for-29. Enough said.
Up next: The Lakers will practice Monday before heading to Texas for games against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. Kobe Bryant said he will travel with the team.