Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Nuggets

Darius Soriano —  March 13, 2017

Honestly, I could have just embedded the above tweet from Mike Trudell and called it a day. The Lakers are very likely to lose this game simply based on the travel aspect — especially since they are coming from the West Coast, where they lose an hour in the air going to the Mountain Time Zone (which is in addition to the hour they also just lost due to daylight savings). In other words, the Lakers are going to be tired in this game and it’s very likely to affect their play.

But, it should be noted, the Lakers are also very likely to lose this game simply because the Nuggets are the better team. Though they did trade Nurkic to Portland, they got back (the good) Plumlee in return and they held on to Wilson Chandler and Will Barton. They also still have that Nikola Jokic guy who is pretty damn good at basketballing. So, the Nuggets are talented, deep, and, oh yeah, have something to play for since they are currently the 8th seed and only a game up in the loss column on the Blazers.

We also know the Lakers are not very good right now — especially defensively. They gave up an ungodly number of points to the 76ers — who were already quite bad on offense, but were also without two of their best offensive players in Embiid and Covington. What will the Lakers do defensively against lineups with guys who can really score, who move the ball, and who can attack from all three levels of the court? That’s a rhetorical question. We know what’s going to happen.

So, I expect the Lakers to lose. But, I also think there will be some good matchups which you should be interested in watching. The first is Zubac vs. Jokic, a nice battle of the Balkans, so to speak, in the pivot. Then there’s the matchups at both forward spots where the Ingram/Randle duo will matchup with Chandler/Gallinari. Denver’s duo can stretch the floor well and are both good defensively, so I want to see if LA’s tandem can make hay against them. And, finally, I want to see Denver’s young guards — specifically Murray and Harris — against Russell and Clarkson when all four share the floor. (Note, this used to be where I’d talk about Mudiay, but he’s fallen out of the rotation and not played in 4 of the team’s last 5 games.)

With that, even though I expect a loss, there could be some good games within the game which keep our attention.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TNT.

Darius Soriano

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to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Nuggets

  1. Just as the Lakers of yore sometimes overlooked the poorer teams on their way to home court advantage, this could be one of those stumbles going the other way. After all, Philly came at us with a back to back, already losing to the Clippers–an away game at the opposite coast–and still made that costly mistake last night. Unless we’re careful, we could do the same thing. Zubac could manhandle Jokic, we could accidentally sub Swaggy P in at the wrong time–and he could go off. DAR may think he can get away with a super game like Clarkston did last night–and get carried away. Who knows?

    Let’s hope for the worst.


  2. Remember when people were saying the Lakers should have taken Mudiay over Russell? Oops.

    Reflecting on last night’s game, one area where I wish the staff would have taken a different approach was with Okafor. Clearly in the first half, when Zubac was getting the ball inside and working against him, it bothered Okafor. You could see it in his demeanor after a blocked shot, and again when Okafor sent Zubac to the line with 3 minutes to go for an and-one.

    Flash forward to the second half — Okafor clearly had his offense going and was making plays to keep the Sixers ahead. Yet the Lakers went completely away from Zubac, whose last shot of the game came with 8+ minutes to go in the third quarter.

    Often the way to slow a hot offensive player is to make him play some defense, get tired on that side, and maybe even get him into foul trouble. But for whatever reason, Luke & Co. didn’t force that issue on Sunday. I would like to have seen that happen. Maybe tonight, if Jokic gets going, that may be a way to try to slow his roll.


  3. Just not going to hope for the worst. I do expect it, though.


  4. World Peace in for 5 minutes! The coaching staff, front office and ownership are clearly on the same page – tanking all the way to Lonzo.


    • World Peace didn’t get the memo. He played surprisingly well, including a pretty pass to Zubac.


  5. Damn, do they suck tonight.


  6. Chris J – on your first comment. Apparently they learned from Sunday. Zubac was in as much as possible against Jokic. At only 19 he is apparently the only one who can even contest strong big men. Black is strong, but when the big is a shooter he can’t really contest the shots, only the position.

    More and more Zubac looks like our starting center of the future. Sure he has to gain weight and learn the tricks-of-the-trade, but he does look like a starting center when the other team has anyone over 6’10”.

    Also, it looks like Walton definitely wants to see as much as he can about Clarkson, in as many different situations as possible. Perhaps, also, to try and force him to sharpen his passing game.

    While I didn’t enjoy the game, I learned a lot about different players, and that’s what all this is really about now.


  7. The two most likely emerging team stars by the end of the season will be Zubac and Clarkson, not the lotteries.


    • Zubac, yes. But Clarkson? That guy has tunnel vision and misses so many open cutters. He’s also very inefficient and gives you barely 3 assists and 2 rebounds per 30 minutes. He’s also by far the worst defender on the team. Clearly, Lakers are “showcasing” him to try and package him to another team. You can’t gloss over the fact that Porzingis is about 2 years older than DAR. Don’t forget that Clarkson is also almost 25 and close to 3 years older than DAR, putting up a paltry 13.X PER while DAR is already above league average (at the hardest position).

      Sophomore Seasons (from bleacherreport):
      Player Age Points Assists Rebounds
      Kyrie Irving 20 23.3 6.2 3.8
      Damian Lillard 23 20.8 5.6 3.5
      D’Angelo Russell 20 19.9 6.3 4.8
      Russell Westbrook 21 16.9 8.3 5.1
      James Harden 21 16.4 2.9 4.2
      John Wall 21 16.2 8.0 4.5


      • Thanks for those sophomore stats. I have been tired of seeing DAR be so in consistent, but this gives me some hope.


      • I was not arguing long term potential (Zubac has it), but that JC freed up could start playing like a poor man’s Westbrook, and emerge as a 20ppg+ scorer and go-to guy in the next dozen games. That could be showcasing him, or doing so by accident, my only point is that I don’t see another youngin likely to raise their play between now and season end as those two can.


  8. Chris J: I was firmly in the Okafor camp on draft night – as I said repetitively on the board : ) That said early this season it looked like Russell was a better pick. We will see. However the real bottom line is that there were 2 total studs in the draft (Townes + Porz), and the Lakers did not get either even though they had the 2nd pick. Forgivable – yes – but clearly they do not deserve any major kudos for the Russell pick. If you draft 2nd – you need to get a great player – and arguably we got maybe the 4th or 5th best guy (and certainly no better than 3rd). Not arguing the exact position after 3rd, but I listened to “nailed the pick” for about 3 months earlier this year.
    With regard to your “do they suck” comment: Yes they do. We clearly have the 2nd worst team in the league. I think the loss at home to Philly cemented that. Again – earlier this year when we won a few games, people were talking about maybe making the playoffs, how we had nailed the picks, got rid of Byron, got rid of Kobe, hired a genius in Luke, and had an incredible FO team that did the best they could given the new CBA.
    How times have changed.


    • 20/20 hindsight is a very, very poor indicator of any talent evaluation. Porz was practically no one’s pick at #2 and Townes was gone. Picking 2nd has been a real nightmare for many of the past 20 years. It is instructive to remember that Kobe went #13, and probably only that high because the Lakers traded Vlade to get Carolina to pick him there.


      • The fact that very few here called for Porzingis certainly means that any criticism should be temperate. But given that one of the recurring themes of your posts has been trusting the FO because fans don’t know anything, etc. it is fair in that context to say that even if fans missed on Porzingis, maybe the FO should not have.


      • Craig – the above anon is mine (sorry missed the name – can’t keep track of these changing formats). And RR is correct. My point is not that the Lakers should have found Porz. It is simply that they could have and they did not. So was their pick “OK” – Yes. Was it Nailing it? No. Nailing it would have been getting Porz. Now drafting Kobe at 13. That is what you call “Nailing it”.


    • My comment on sucking was specific to the Denver game.

      It’s not a good team overall, but they’re heading back in the right direction. I see this season for what it is; just more upset on nights when they clearly don’t come to play. The late arrival didn’t help, but there are a few too many examples of games like that this year (blowout at Dallas, getting run by the Suns, etc.)


  9. Full on tank mode!


  10. darius: there are two college freshmen point guards that are possibly slated to go one, two in this year’s nba draft; one with a bulky knee and the other with a bulky father. Thinking here is president Magic, in charge of basketball operations has his mind set to pick the one available to the lakers, provided they maintain their pick in this year’s lottery. Would have liked to have seen the two go head to head when Washington State came to Pauley Pavilion. Personally, I like the bulky father’s kid.

    After last night’s pathetic showing; don’t expect to see another one game winning streak in the near future this season? works for me.

    Go lakers


  11. My concern with Randle and Russell is that they do not bring a consistent level of effort every game. You can’t build a team around players that are not dependable. At some point being young is not a ‘reason’ its an ‘excuse’.

    I would like to see the young core stay together at least another year. It would not surprise me, however, if Johnson/Pelinka moved one or more of them this off season.


  12. I like that my posts always land in mod but the one at 926 AM made it to the board.