The Los Angeles Lakers lost again, but this time something was different. This time, they really did look like a team desperate for a win. The energy was better but the result was not. The desperation led to six first quarter turnovers, and the Lakers were in a hole from the start, once again.
Despite shooting 58 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three point line, the Lakers trailed 34-26 after the first quarter. Kenneth Faried, who completely destroyed the Lakers the last time these teams met, had no points or rebounds in the opening quarter.
Denver only shot 45 percent in the opening period and 22 percent from behind the arc, so how were the Lakers down by eight points after the first quarter?
This team is self-destructive, that’s why.
They had six turnovers to the Nuggets’ zero in the opening period. This season’s Lakers find ways to fall behind and lose ball games even when they’re playing well.
On the night, the Lakers out-shot the Nuggets 46 percent to 44 percent, but they gave the Nuggets an extra 19 field goal attempts by throwing the ball away.
Eighteen Lakers turnovers overshadowed the fact that Los Angeles actually played well on the offensive end and did a decent job on the defensive glass — save for when D’Antoni tried to go with Jordan Hill (6 foot 10) and Antawn Jamison (6 foot 9) against two 7 footers, Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee for the tail-end of the first quarter.
The Lakers scored 105 points and ball movement led to 30 of 38 baskets coming on assists.
In their previous loss to the Clippers, the Lakers only had 19 assists on 35 made baskets. The ball was moving on Sunday night, but it was moving away from the Lakers’ basket far too often.
Every Lakers starter had at least one turnover in the opening quarter, and the starters would ultimately be responsible for 17 of the 18 team turnovers on the night.
Along with turnovers, the Lakers were out-scored 60-38 in points in the paint despite Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard combining for 69 percent from the field. Howard and Gasol also combined for six blocked shots.
Howard found other ways to contribute. He was able to grab 26 rebounds on the night, his highest total since joining the Lakers. In fact, Howard has only hit the 20 rebound mark thrice wearing purple and gold, and the last time that happened was nearly a month ago.
D12’s dominance on the boards was the main reason Faried only finished the night with six rebounds.
The Lakers did plenty right on Sunday night, but they still gave up 112 points. Faried may have been held to six points, but the Lakers allowed 60 points in the first half and predictably fell short on their fourth quarter Kobe Bryant-led rally.
Right now, this team doesn’t look like it is going to the playoffs, let alone the NBA finals unless something changes…cue Mitch Kupchak.