Lakers’ winning streak snapped by Nuggets as LeBron James sits out

Jan 9, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Thomas Bryant (31) controls the ball as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) guards in the first quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Thomas Bryant (31) controls the ball as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) guards in the first quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers brought a five-game winning streak into Denver for their final meeting of the season against the Nuggets. It would be a challenge for the Lake Show to get their sixth win on the road without the services of LeBron James, who sat out with ankle soreness or rest. Pick which reason you believe.

Well, it seems that the roster came into this game with the Russell Westbrook philosophy as opposed to the “Greedy” philosophy LeBron James tried to reiterate…

Wow, it’s hard to believe that this is the official halfway point for the Lakers and even more surprising that the Lakers were looking to take three of four games from the Nuggets to take the season series.

The last matchup that was a win for the Lake Show was a good news, bad news type of scenario winning 126-108.

  • The bad news: Anthony Davis injured his foot and we haven’t seen him since.
  • The good news: Man that Thomas Bryant showed how NBA players exercise the concept of “Next man up”! His play may have saved the Lakers from making a desperate trade for Myles Turner who could have been the next Andre Drummond rental! 

The injury report for the Lakers is starting to become like a list for the federal witness protection program. Man, this list is long!

  • Austin Reaves is out for another week or so.
  • Lonnie Walker IV is out as well…
  • Anthony Davis is out but he’s allegedly supposed to ramp up his rehab for a return this week…Really?
  • LeBron James…
  • Troy Brown Jr. injured his calf recently and is out as well.

Think that’s something? Patrick Beverley did not return in the second half because of a hip injury. Is it time to start a dialogue about the medical staff and the strength and training personnel?

The five-game winning streak came to an end with a 122-109 loss. But let the staff of Lake Show Life make something perfectly clear. These guys played hard and competed which is a major testament to Darvin Ham and the coaching staff. Everyone on this roster is buying in and contributing the best they can. The Nuggets had too much offensive firepower and the Lakers ran out of gas late in the third quarter.

The good from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss:  

Man, that rookie Max Christie can play!

This website criticizes much of what the Los Angeles Lakers franchise has done over the last couple of seasons (…and will continue!) but no one will touch the Lakers scouting department. They are the best in the NBA and it is not even close. Even the Warriors and their system of grooming players can learn a thing or two from the Lake Show. If you believed that Max Christie’s growth would be this evident on draft night, you are lying.

Max Christie was one of the major contributors to the win over the Nuggets with timely shots in the second half. He basically kept the Lakers from being down 30 in the first half of this one!

He had 8 points on 3-4 shooting which included two shots from the land of the extra point. He added 2 rebounds and one assist.

Christie finished with 14 points (6-8 shooting!). The Los Angeles Lakers scout team did it again! sadly he might get traded in a couple of years or become Austin Reaves’ replacement next year.

Thomas Bryant and Wenyen Gabriel are turning into the discount Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee from the championship year! 

These guys play hard Lakers fans…real hard!

The Lakers needed these two to match the production of Nikola Jokic, much like the previous matchup in L.A. They did so in fantastic fashion!

  • Wenyen Gabriel: 9 points, 5 rebounds…
  • Thomas Bryant: 17 points, 10 rebounds…
  • Nikola Jokic: 14 points, 11 rebounds…

However, there is a statistic that is not on the board that led to this Denver victory. More on that later.

Cole Swider…

Scored his first 6 NBA points in his career! Congrats Rook! He added 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

It bears repeating…

This team played hard and competed. Man Darvin Ham can coach and these young guys have heart.

The bad from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss:

Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schroder had a very SLOW start!

Dennis Schroder had been running roughshod over opponents in the last few games, but he started 1-7 from the field to start the game. Pat-Bev? Was running cardio with one rebound and one missed 3-point shot! You thought they were bad? Guess who was worse in the first half?

Russell Westbrook…

Missed his first eight shots from the field and two free throws. Let’s ask him if he had fun though…

Seriously, folks, Russ picked up in the second half and finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The same way this site criticized LeBron’s numbers in a losing effort, Russ has to get the same treatment. It was a very uneven game where his efforts did not flow with the Lakers’ offense.

If you missed the game and looked at the box score, you would think his performance was solid, but it seemed Denver scored on EVERY turnover he had! Most of those points came when the game was basically over.

Jamal Murray showed up… 

The Denver Nuggets can’t be taken seriously if this guy doesn’t return to form. He definitely wasn’t in the previous game but he was in this game. He finished with a season-high 34 points, 7 rebounds  and 4 assists.

The story from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss:   

Nikola Jokic made some adjustments from the last game! 

Let’s go back to the post-game report chronicling Thomas Bryant’s dominant performance over the two-time MVP…

"Let’s be clear here, Nikola Jokic is the two-time MVP for a reason. He’s that good and even though he had an off-night, the Joker still finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. But Thomas Bryant gave him the business folks!On offense, the Lakers SOUGHT him out and put him in defensive situations that wore him down. When was the last time a team tried to HIDE an MVP on defense? But zone defenses will not stop teams from outworking you which is what the Lakers did tonight. Then Bryant’s cardio rim running workout took Jokic out of the game."

For some reason, the Joker plays on cruise control when it comes to looking for his shot but his ??? assists killed the Lakers. He set up his teammates for easy baskets while the Lakers struggled through the mud in their offense. Just look at the amount of scoring spread out over the roster…

  • Michael Porter Jr.: 12 points with 7 rebounds…
  • Aaron Gordon: 9 points with 10 rebounds…
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 16 points with 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
  • Bruce Brown: 15 points, and 7 rebounds.
  • Bones Hyland: 12 points and 2 rebounds.
  • The aforementioned Jamal Murray: 34 points. 

The difference in this game was Jokic was very comfortable going at his own pace, unlike the previous game when the Lakers made him uncomfortable…ESPECIALLY on the defensive end.

Nikola Jokic played chess instead of checkers finishing with his 11th triple-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high 16 assists. His teammates enjoyed fine offensive performances based on his orchestration of the offense.

That and he didn’t miss a shot the whole game.