On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers scored 115 points and lost.
Shockingly, the Lakers allowed the Denver Nuggets to score 137 points at Staples Center. Entering the contest, the Nuggets had lost eight of their last nine games, but the Lakers have made a habit of allowing struggling teams to visit Los Angeles, enjoy the warm winter weather and burn up the scoreboard.
Ty Lawson’s 20 points and 12 assists stood out, but no one on Denver had a special performance. Nate Robinson led the Nuggets with 21 points, and he was one of seven players who scored in double figures for the visitors.
For the Lakers, the loss was even more demoralizing considering they played a strong first half. LA scored 60 points in the first 24 minutes with Pau Gasol shrugging off trade rumors to pour in 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks at the break. He was not alone in the strong start.
Kendall Marshall had nine assists before the intermission, and Jodie Meeks and Nick Young were both looking sharp offensively. At the half, Meeks had 14 points; Young had 13 points. The scoring was balanced, and the Lakers looked good.
Even more promising, the Lakers only had four turnovers halfway through the game.
Somehow, though, the score was tied. Despite the Lakers striking the right chords, the score was level at 60.
In the third quarter, the Lakers inevitably came out flat. Denver did not. After the dust settled, LA trailed by 10 points entering the fourth quarter. The Lakers got a bit careless and handed over four turnovers during that painful third quarter. Also, the purple and gold shot a dismal 29 percent from the field.
For the final 12 minutes, the game was not a contest.
Less than three minutes into the final quarter, the Lakers trailed by 19 points. That lead would balloon to as many as 25 before the final buzzer. Marshall finished with a career-high 17 assists, but he was not in the mood to celebrate. Gasol passed Rasheed Wallace and Derek Harper on the all-time scoring list, but his post-game talks discussed trade rumors and defensive collapses.
Overall, the Lakers received noteworthy efforts from Gasol and Marshall. Gasol finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Marshall finished with nine points, 17 assists and six rebounds. However, the Lakers were blown out.
With both Gasol and Marshall putting in praiseworthy performances, the Lakers still lost by 22 points. One cannot help but wonder how much worse it would have been if Gasol had been traded and Marshall never materialized. Would the Lakers have lost by 50 points? Would the Nuggets have scored 150 points? Could the Lakers get that much worse?