Less than 24 hours removed from an inspired, energetic performance against the Warriors, the Lakers team that trotted out Sunday night couldn’t have looked more different. Looking lethargic throughout, the Lakers lacked the same youthful energy that allowed them to keep pace with the fast-paced Warriors, instead getting run over by the even faster-paced Nuggets en route to a 97-88 in the Staples Center.
Neither team found much of an offensive rhythm as the Lakers shot 30 for 93 from the field (32%), but Denver’s 28 turnovers kept Los Angeles in the game early on. With Gasol and Nash on the floor together for the first time this year, a clear emphasis on more pick and roll action was evident, leading to 6 assists in 22 minutes from Nash and 7 assists in 17 minutes for Steve Blake. Gasol tallied 13 points, but did so on 4 of 13 shooting and grabbed just 4 rebounds. Xavier Henry led the Lakers once again the score column, dropping 15 points one night after his 29-point outburst. While the majority of Henry’s points came in garbage time late in the fourth quarter, he still showed a willingness to attack the rack all night long, leading to 9 free throws.
A frigid start for Marcus Landry didn’t deter the forward as he finished with 13 points on 4 for 11 shooting. Landry, known as a three point sharpshooter, airballed three three-point attempts before getting a shot to fall. But also as a garbage time stat-stuffer, Landry knocked down some late jumpers, canning three long-distance shots. Nick Young once again displayed some fire (or even swag, since he’s known as Swaggy P), but wasn’t nearly as efficient. The highlight to sum up Young’s night came in the first half when he missed a fairly make-able lay-up, but stayed on his end of the court. After a Nuggets turnover, Nash found a wide open Young, who blew the dunk. Young would receive a technical a few minutes later after a slew of missed opportunities and a loose ball foul was too much, leading to him kicking the ball out of bounds.
Shawne Williams impressed some fans tonight despite tallying just 6 points on 2 for 6 shooting. The big man showed hustle on a chase-down block of Ty Lawson on a fast break. He also pulled down 5 rebounds and added 2 steals and a block to his line. Robert Sacre led the Lakers in rebounding, grabbing 8 boards and pouring in 6 points. Eric Boateng and Nash were the only Lakers tonight to see action and not score. For the Nuggets, Lawson led the way with 7-10 shooting from the field and 15 points as well as a game-high 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Jordan Hamilton added 15 of his own, Javale McGee chipped in 12 points and 7 rebounds, J.J. Hickson had 10 points on the night.
Neither Jordan Farmar or Chris Kaman saw action tonight as both were rested following their game last night. Both are expected to be in action Tuesday as well as Nash and Gasol as the Lakers take on the Nuggets again. The game will tip-off at 7:00 PM Pacific, 10:00 PM Eastern and can be seen on NBATV.