The Los Angeles Lakers lost 126-114 against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night to snap a five-game winning streak. The Lakers lacked energy from the onset, got beat on the boards, and did not bother playing any defense on the night. For Lakers fans who have been watching all season long, it was a worryingly familiar sight.
The Lakers looked lethargic for much of the season, which is why they still have a losing record as of Wednesday night. Prior to Steve Nash’s return, the poor defense and lack of defensive rebounding were swept under the rug.
Well, Nash is back and the Lakers just got clobbered because they gave up 20 offensive rebounds which led to 22 second-chance points. Also, the Lakers' defensive rotations were so poor that the Lakers were outscored 52 to 28 in the paint. Newsflash: Nash cannot rebound or play defense.
Dwight Howard was ejected for a flagrant foul that was reminiscent of Andrew Bynum’s foul on J.J. Barea a couple seasons ago. Howard was having a poor game to that point, and it was clearly a frustration foul. Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni did not sugar coat what Howard’s ejection meant to the team on Wednesday night.
When asked what the Lakers lost without Howard in the game, D’Antoni said, "Not a whole lot."
Pau Gasol, who played center in Howard’s absence, was showing a new confidence in his three-point shot earlier in the game. Gasol made his first two shots from behind the arc and attempted three shots from distance on the night.
Gasol did not excuse the loss on Howard's ejection either.
"We weren’t active enough," Gasol said after the game. "The energy wasn’t quite there. They were pretty much the aggressor all night."
Gasol was referring to the defensive energy and rebounding because the Lakers offense still managed to score 114 points. Kobe Bryant scored 40 points on an efficient 13-24 from the field. The starters combined for 30-49 from the field (61 percent).
The Lakers offense was not the problem in Denver, as five Lakers scored in double figures. Actually, the Lakers wasted a good offensive performance by failing to play hard and do the so-called "little things."
The Lakers simply lacked intensity and effort. The team failed to rotate on defense, gave up too many second-chance points, and were beat on energy when it came to rebounding.
When asked about the low energy after Wednesday’s loss, Nash said, "Sometimes, when you don’t have anything nice to say, you don’t say anything at all."