The Lakers shot 48 percent from the three point line in their narrow victory against the Denver Nuggets 124-121. Denver is showing signs of potentially shooting 56 percent from the three point line. Denver out shot and led the Lakers for the majority of the game, but not by much; they could not increase their lead. Denver is a great shooting team, they proved it recently and almost beat the Lakers, the Lakers are not a great shooting team but got lucky by hitting a lot of threes that they normally do not make.
My beef with the Lakers is why are they not playing to their strengths, pounding the ball into the paint. LeBron at the end of the game when the Lakers were about to get blown out had to go back to his bread and butter, “Bully Ball” for an old-fashioned three point play in the paint. If LeBron and Davis did not go back to the paint to score Denver would have pulled away. The Lakers should not have left the paint all game.
How come the Lakers are not blowing out the Nuggets?
One reason, is that the Nuggets are a lot more talented than one might have thought and the Lakers are less talented. The only reason the game against the Nugs was close was because the Lakers remembered when they were about to get beat why they are the most talented team in the league and that is their dominate post play and they still almost lost because they tried to have a shooting contest against one of the best jump shooting teams in the NBA. The Lakers cannot shoot with a jump shooting team, yes, they won this game with great end of the game heroics by LeBron and Kyle Kuzma, but as a Lakers fan who wants another Championship banner hanging in the rafters, I do not want to see close games, I want to see blowouts.
If the Lakers do not stay in the paint and shoot the vast majority of their shots inside the arc, then they are going to get beat in the playoffs because the Lakers living by the three is not sustainable. The Lakers seem to play up or down to the level of their opponents, instead of having a solid game plan every night to systematically destroy teams, they just half-ass freestyle it and it worked out for them in their last game, thanks to Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers cannot match three for three against these better jump shooting teams. Kuzma had to have the best game of his life to barely beat a Nuggets team the Lakers should have beat by twenty. What stood out to me about Kuzma was not his game winning three, though that was at the end of the day the most critical, it was not his offense, it was his defensive play. Kuzma had two back to back steals, one of them for a monster dunk. The Lakers are going to have to play lock down championship defense, this will have to change in the playoffs. Since the Disney Covid league started back up, it feels like every game has the urgency of the All-Star game, no defense. If Kuzma can maintain this level of play and LBJ and Davis stay in the paint, the Lakers are going to roll to the Finals.
Why is Anthony Davis shooting three’s and long two’s? I know that the NBA has changed but I truly believe the old big man in the paint, traditional style of play is the best proven way to win Championships every year. Davis is practicing his three’s when he needs to develop a hook shot, the Lakers are going to win if he stays in the paint, not out beyond the arc forty feet from the rim. I don’t think the Lakers are taking these games very seriously, they are just coasting to the playoffs, but when the refs stop calling fouls and LBJ is shooting a bunch of bricks and Davis is at half court not getting any rebounds and JR Smith is stoned on the baseline ordering some nachos, they cannot forget why they are the best team in the NBA.
I just hope the Lakers can change up their game back to what makes them the best team in the league because the Lakers living by the three is not sustainable.