The Los Angeles Lakers failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity and fell to the Denver Nuggets in an overtime loss on Sunday night at Staples Center.
"It was ugly. I mean, they shot terrible. We shot terrible," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "If you win it, it's not that ugly."
The reason they didn't win was tough to swallow.
"Defensively, we did a pretty good job all night long," the defensive-minded coach said after the game. "[It was] definitely tougher to take [this loss]. The effort was there, and the things that we talked about yesterday were all there."
Scott said, "We just kind of blew it, basically, at the end."
The "end" Scott was likely referring to was the end of regulation rather than the overtime. Time and again, the Lakers allowed Kobe Bryant to take the ball in his hands and attempt to go one-on-one in isolation against an opponent. Bryant, who was 6-10 for 16 points through the first three quarters, went 3-11 for seven points over the final nine minutes of regulation. The Lakers only scored 11 points in the quarter and gifted the Nuggets an overtime session.
To be fair, Denver did not fare much better. Although they distributed their shots, the Nuggets only scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
In the overtime period, Nuggets' point guard Ty Lawson put on the jets and scored four points to finish the night with 18 points and 16 assists. The entire Lakers' team only racked up 15 assists. Former UCLA Bruin Aaron Afflalo also added four points in the extra session, as the Nuggets made four shots in overtime, and the Lakers made two shots in overtime.
Bryant was 4-14 after going into isolation mode down the stretch and in overtime, but Coach Scott persisted that the team got good shots but just did not make them. The problem, of course, was that the team was not involved in most of those shots. Despite having Jeremy Lin on the court, Bryant would accept the in-bounds pass in the back court, make his way into the front court and look to shoot. That was the Lakers' offense down the stretch, and frankly, the results were pathetic.
Lin, who finished with 17 points on 15 shots, had a respectable outing and shot over 50 percent from the field. In the third quarter, the point guard did not miss a single shot, going 5-5 and scoring 11 points. As a reward for his hot hand, Lin only managed two shot attempts in the fourth quarter. On several possessions, the point guard did not even touch the basketball.
"We kind of got away from things...just sharing the ball," Lakers guard Nick Young said after the game. "At times, we fall into relying on [Bryant] a lot."
Young did not overtly blame Bryant for the loss, taking blame for "standing around" and not demanding the ball. Young, however, was likely not in the best position to "demand" the ball considering the streaky shooter missed 10 of his 12 shots on the night.
Still, this loss stung more, and Young summarized the feelin: "We felt we had this one tonight. We just let it slip up."