The Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles during the 2021-22 season were put on full blast when they were dominated the Denver Nuggets, dropping them below .500.
Defensively, the Lakers were a mess as the Nuggets got nearly any shot they wanted and were able to capitalize on all the open looks. Denver shot 51.6 percent from the field, including 23-of-40 from beyond the arc while L.A. on the other end settled for poor shots for most of the night.
Head coach Frank Vogel was frustrated with the team’s defense but he also emphasized their shot selection could have been better against the Nuggets. “We got to be better with our shot selection,” Vogel said.
“I don’t think it was terrible overall. … But we’re not attacking the paint as much as we need to. We were 2-for-18 on jump shots off the dribble tonight and that’s a recipe for a loss. Some things we’ve talked about with our group throughout the year, but you got to play the game. You got to give the guys freedom to play the game, but definitely could be better with our shot selection.”
The Lakers’ bread and butter is to attack the painted area and leverage their athleticism and physicality with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. To their credit, their scored 50 points in the paint, but went away from it as the deficit got larger and larger.
With Denver doing a good job of mucking up the paint in the second half, Los Angeles seemed content to force shots that were not there and that ultimately led to transition opportunities. It is easy to fall in love with jumpers when trailing, but the Lakers needed to be more disciplined in that area.
Any team is going to find it hard to win when their shot selection and defense are both poor, and in the Purple and Gold’s case it was an easy recipe for a blowout. Hopefully they are able to correct mistakes on Monday against the Utah Jazz, but that is a tough ask against one of the Western Conference’s best teams.
Russell Westbrook has no reaction to Magic Johnson’s tweet
Aside from Vogel, Russell Westbrook was also frustrated with how the Lakers handled themselves against the Nuggets. Westbrook called out the team for their effort, and while Magic Johnson offered the same critique the former did not have much of a reaction to the Laker legend’s comments.