The Lakers have lost 4 games in a row — a topic covered extensively in the latest podcast — so I won’t get too much into it now. Just know the team could really use a win, for no other reason than they have a couple of more games at home before going on the road again for 9 of 11 games before the all-star break. Some of those games are winnable, but with the way the team is playing right now and the fact that they’re 5-20 in their last 25 games, the idea that the Lakers should actually be favored to win any of them is becoming more and more of a stretch.

Which brings us to tonight’s game vs. the Nuggets. Denver is currently 16-23 and the 9th seed in the conference. I’ll save my rant about the Lakers playing 6 more games than the Nuggets at this point in the season, and focus instead on the idea that if the Lakers want to make any sort of push towards even contending for a playoff spot (note: this does not mean make the playoffs), games like this are important. The Nuggets are better than the Lakers, but they aren’t so much better that a win in Los Angeles should be out of the question.

Getting it is another story, but the Lakers do have the tools to win.

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In the latest Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I discuss the Lakers’ 0-4 week, their loss to the Pistons, and differentiating between what parts of the young players’ games you can dismiss because they’re young and what parts of their games are real concerns irrespective of their youth.

That last point, I think, is a worthy discussion beyond the time Pete and I spent on it. As I wrote in the game preview, I think it’s fair to be both disappointed in some of the team’s recent play while still being understanding that this team is playing the long game and looking for long term improvement and upward trajectory. This is what rebuilding looks like.

In any event, click through to listen to our talk. As always, thanks for the support.

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After a stretch where the Lakers looked as though they were turning a corner with improved play, they have lost three games in a row. In the last two of those three, the Lakers haven’t even held a lead. Considering how rare buzzer to buzzer losses are, the fact the Lakers have had two such games in a row isn’t good. At all.

This dip in team play is directly related to the dip in play from D’Angelo Russell and, to a lesser but still meaningful extent, Julius Randle. Russell has struggled as a shooter and his forays into the lane have not earned him many baskets nor free throws. As for Randle, he had an excellent first half against the Spurs, but in the 2nd half did not have near the same impact. Then, against the Blazers and Clippers he was a combined 4-16 from the field and only scored 10 total points. And while the rebounding was still there, the team needs more from Randle than to be a glass cleaner, they need his scoring and the subsequent impact that has on his ability to create shots for others.

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After their second 1-game trip to Texas this season (and their 2nd blowout loss, this time to the Spurs) the Lakers are back in Los Angeles to play a “road” game against the Clippers. The game is a matinee with a 12:30pm start time so the Kings can use Staples tonight to play against Winnipeg. According to Arash Markazi, this just the 3rd time a little over a decade that all three of the Lakers, Kings, and Clippers have all played a game in the Arena on the same day. So, the more you know.

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“Not much to say… can’t be mad. The other team is just that much better.”

That was from commenter LKK during/after the Lakers’ loss in San Antonio to the Spurs on Thursday night. While I do think there were some things to get somewhat upset about, I think LKK captures about how I was feeling while I was watching San Antonio build their lead, then extend it, then maintain it until the final buzzer.

In fact, right around the end of the 1st quarter, I actually said out loud (to myself, since no one was in the room) that “both teams are showing their quality, the Spurs are just showing they have more of it.” Beyond that, they were also showing that they know how to exhibit that quality for longer stretches within a game.

So, no, I’m not that mad about the game. I’m not happy either, of course. The team played poorly for the 2nd straight game and lost. Does the fact that they lost to a very good team on the road soften that blow a bit? I guess, but when you see the final margin, whatever softening occurred goes away. Losing by 40 is bad times regardless. There’s not much spin to be able to put on that type of game.

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I’m going to keep this short because I honestly don’t think there’s much to say about the Lakers right now. They lost their last game with a very poor 2nd half performance, one which saw their offense struggle mightily and their defense play just okay for stretches and struggle more later when the pressure to try to get stops led to gambles and miscommunication which cost them.

I know some would like to make the Blazer game more than that, but I don’t really see it that way.

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The Lakers are have won 2 games in a row and 3 of their last 4. This recent stretch — dating back even a few games farther —  even if not better than the level of play exhibited at the beginning of the season, is more meaningful since it has been driven mostly by the play of D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle with Brandon Ingram also playing very good basketball in the last week.

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Which team would you rather be?

Team A

Offensive Rating: 104.3, 13th in the NBA
Defensive Rating: 107.4, 27th in the NBA
Net Rating: -3.1, 21st in the NBA
Winning Percentage: .500

Team B

Offensive Rating: 108.9, 12th in the NBA
Defensive Rating: 108.5, 19th in the NBA
Net Rating: +0.4, 13th in the NBA
Winning Percentage: .400

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