Denver demolishes Lakers, 133-96
It’s no secret the Lakers have been awful this season, despite adding Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and DeAndre Jordan. Their defense has been atrocious and they continue to miss shots they should be knocking down consistently. Last night was no different, and against a team with the reigning MVP, you have to play better than how they usually do.
Jokic proved to the world why he was the MVP last season, posting his eighth triple-double of the season. He notched 17-13-12, in only 28 minutes of the game. Those numbers are incredible in their own right, but what was more impressive was how he was able to involve his teammates tonight. With Jamaal Murray out due to a torn left ACL, Jokic has had to become a primary facilitator for his team. Through his ball movement, Denver got everyone involved tonight, including some unfamiliar faces. “Uncle Jeff” Green and Bones Hyland both went ballistic. Green, who seemingly doesn’t age, had a vintage performance, eerily similar to his game 6 performance for Brooklyn last year. Being the athletic and consistent force he is, he shot a stellar 4-5 from downtown, dropped a team-high (and personal season high) 26 points, and even showed off his hops with a few vicious dunks. For a 35 year-old, that’s super impressive. Bones also had the night of his career so far, as he was scorching hot all night. He found his spot at the top of the key, hitting multiple deep shots including a nasty step-back in the first half. Bones fed off of Denver’s ball movement, most evident on his highlight of the game. At the top of the key, Hyland gave the ball up to Jokic and hit a backdoor curl going to the rack. Jokic found him in the perfect spot, and Bones pulled off one of the nastiest spin moves of the season, leaving the Lakers squad and fans in disbelief. Bones knew exactly where to cut before he gave it to Jokic, emphasizing their ability to understand open lanes and where to find people. This type of play style allows everyone to get involved, and not just the same few people each game. Denver had 14 more assists than L.A. tonight, showing how much better they not only moved the ball, but they actually hit their shots too. L.A.’s fate was pretty much set in stone by the end of the second. As usual, LeBron put up his all-star caliber stat line, but his team failed to give him any more help. Denver simply demolished the predictable Lakers team, having 7 guys in double-digits, compared to L.A.’s three. King James missed a usual contribution from Austin Reaves, who was coming off a career-high 19 points against Sacramento last game. The Lakers got out-rebounded by 10, and shot 24%(!) worse from three-point range. With the trade deadline coming up, L.A. should be looking to make some moves. They are too predictable, and can’t rely solely on LeBron to win. Having another scorer on the team would alleviate pressure off of King James, by drawing the opposing defenses’s attention away from him. Westbrook had a better game than usual, going for 19 points and five assists on 7-15 shooting. However, even with his performance, they could barely make a dent in Denver’s lead. Jokic and company ended up winning the game, 133-96. On what is now a two game winning streak, they have overtaken L.A. in the standings for sixth place. The Lakers continue to slide, losing three straight. It’s clear some serious changes need to be made in order to transform the Lakers into the team they thought they would be at the beginning of the season. If not, they’ll continue to trend in the wrong direction.