While the excitement over last week’s 3-0 record for the Lakers hit a bump with their loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, all hope is still not lost. However, the Lakers failed to play with consistent energy and urgency that was necessary to return back to Los Angeles with a win. The Nuggets, who identify themselves as a fast-paced, transition team, shed a bright spotlight on the Lakers’ continued struggles with turnovers and transition defense.
The Lakers committed 12 turnovers in the first half alone, and ended with 15. Their poor transition defense gave up 22 fast break points in the first half, while they finished with giving up 33 points on the break to Denver. Compare that to the three fast break points posted by LA. On top of that, the Nuggets had their way with the Lakers in the paint by earning 78 points in the game.
After the game, Kobe Bryant discussed their lack of the transition game that was the Lakers’ achilles heel last night.
“It’s tough to neutralize speed, especially when they’re very good at what they do,” Bryant said. “Yeah, their speed. Their speed got us. They got out on transition, got easy buckets. Kept the pressure on us. We had to labor for opportunities, think we might have had two fast-break points. Contrast that with 33. It’s crazy.”
“You have to almost over-exaggerate getting back on defense,” Bryant said. “Literally, nobody can go to the offensive boards.”
“I think it was their speed,” Bryant said. “Their speed was something that was tough for us to adjust to all night long. They continually pushed the ball down our throats. Shots go up and those guys are already leaking out, to go along with the speed. They got a lot of easy buckets because of it.”
Mike D’Antoni also chimed in on the transition failures by the Lakers against Denver.
“They just ran out of the starter’s blocks and beat us down the floor,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “… We couldn’t catch them. We just couldn’t catch them. For whatever reason, they just took off. Even on just a missed shot, we couldn’t get back quick enough.”
The Lakers were dismal from the free-throw line, making just 14-31. Dwight Howard led the team’s struggles from the charity stripe, shooting a disastrous 3-14. Mike D’Antoni added the team’s horrible free-throw percentage to the reasons for the loss in Denver, saying:
“You can’t do that on the road against a good team and expect to win,” D’Antoni said. “But nobody’s up there trying to miss. That’s just part of life.”
The Lakers return home to take on the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night. The team will look to tighten up their defensive transition game and take better care of the basketball as well. Making some more free-throws wouldn’t hurt their effort too.