Despite returning home to Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers were blown out by the Denver Nuggets, dropping their record to 24-6 during the 2019-20 NBA season.
The Lakers were without LeBron James as he is currently dealing with an injury that he suffered in the loss against the Indiana Pacers. Without James, Los Angeles sputtered on the offensive end and struggled mightily taking care of the ball as Denver looked to pressure the guards and force errant passes.
Anthony Davis served as the focal point for the Lakers offense as he recorded a double-double (32 points and 11 rebounds) but still could not overcome a balanced Nuggets attack on the other end. When asked about the possibility of James missing multiple games, Davis instead pointed out the team’s defensive performance.
“With or without him, we suck defensively. We lost our defensive edge. We’re not guarding no more, we’re not rebounding, getting back cuts,” Davis said.
“Our attention to detail on the defensive end and our awareness just slipped the past couple games. We’re not aggressive on that end anymore. And that goes back to even the road trip. We were winning games, but we had a lot of slippage on the defensive end, so we got to be able to correct that.”
After a great start to the season, Los Angeles defense has begun to fall back down to Earth as teams have gotten smarter about how to exploit their schemes and coverages. The Lakers have struggled with guarding the three-point line in recent weeks and it showed in all their losses, particularly against the Milwaukee Bucks who torched them.
There are several reasons that can be attributed to the team’s recent struggles defensively, but one of the primary ones is their inability to take care of the basketball. Los Angeles has committed numerous poor turnovers the past few games and committed 19 against Denver that ultimately led to 22 transition points.
Not having James is obviously going to hurt the purple and gold offensively, but the defensive level and focus has been disappointing, to say the least. Davis’ ability to guard the rim and switch out to the perimeter can cover plenty of mistakes, but he is going to need help if the Lakers want to break out of their funk and get back to playing to their standard.
Hopefully, the All-Star duo is healthy come Christmas Day because Los Angeles will need all the help they can get when they play their in-arena rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers.