The Los Angeles Lakers might be playing fun basketball, but the ones who are enjoying more than anyone happen to be the team’s opponents, this time being the Denver Nuggets, enjoying the free flow of the game that went nicely with the no-defense approach, pulling off a 137-115 win on the road.
So yeah, the Lakers had some nice numbers to show, as three players including the about to be traded Pau Gasol scored more than 20 points. It doesn’t really matter with the Lakers losing their 7th game out of their last 8. There might be some pretty numbers from certain players like Kendall Marshall finishing with 17 assists and Mike D’Antoni getting guys to enjoy his style, but this isn’t taking this team anywhere.
On the other end, the Nuggets are once again trying to bounce back from their problematic slide down the standings. Few teams defend as badly as the Lakers do, but Brian Shaw needs to understand that this Nuggets team isn’t going to win a lot of basketball games if they stick to this half court offense style he’s trying to dictate.
Ty Lawson finished with 20 points, Nate Robinson came off the bench to score 21 and Timofey Mozgov had another big game with 20 points. The Nuggets grabbed 17 offensive rebounds (6 of them by Kenneth Faried) in a game that looked a lot more like last season, when the Nuggets were the best rebounding team in the NBA.
But for one night the problems of having Faried and Hickson on the floor at the same time made no difference. Neither did the absence of Andre Miller. The Nuggets shot 53.5% from the field and 41.4% from beyond the arc. If the Lakers allow teams to play like this, it’s going to be very surprising that they won’t get burnt. Most teams also have more firepower than they do, only it’s not their only option to win games.
This is Mike D’Antoni basketball, only without a Steve Nash type of point guard, and with a lot less talent than he had in the past. Nick Young scored 21 points on 8-of-15 from the field, Pau Gasol added a 22-10 double double while Jodie Meeks had a rare efficient shooting night (scoring 23 points). All that might win them some place on Line of the Night lists run by some people on twitter, or even a spot on some highlight reel.
The bottom line is that the Lakers aren’t anywhere near the playoffs, as it just keeps getting further and further away from them. They’re not trying to tank, they’re simply a bad team on most aspects of the basketball game, even if they’re unselfish and doing some nice things on offense.
For the Nuggets, it’s not too late to get on the playoff train, especially if Shaw gives up on trying to force his system on players that don’t fit it. For the Lakers, it’s going to be an endless stretch of garbage time games, and it’s only going to get a lot more painful and awkward when Kobe Bryant returns and will be very displeased that he’s part of such a failing enterprise.