Heading into Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers had already lost to them twice this season. In the two previous games, Los Angeles allowed at least 129 points to Denver.

But, this was a new day. Or, so we thought.

Although, just because your opponent scored 129 points against you doesn’t mean you automatically lose. That’s not how basketball works. As long as you score more than the opposing team, you’re good!

The Lakers are the Lakers, and they fell short once again.

Led by MVP candidate Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets went toe-to-toe with the Lakers and pulled away late to get the 129-118 win. Denver shot 37% from beyond the arc, thanks to Will Barton. The 31-year-old hit six of his eight attempts from three and totaled 25 points in the process.

Jokić had a monster game, finishing with 38 points and a whopping 18 rebounds. The Serbian also added six assists and continues to show his all-around game.

The Lakers entered this game without LeBron James, who was dealing with an ankle injury. Anthony Davis was able to play, but it wouldn’t matter for a Lakers squad who would lose their sixth straight game.

Davis looked good as he scored 28 points, had nine rebounds, and dished out eight assists. Russell Westbrook also played well. The former UCLA product had 27 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.

The Purple & Gold fall to 31-47 on the season, and a chance to play in the play-in tournament looks dimmer by the day.

Heading to Cancun

First, I do want to say it was a competitive game between both teams. The Lakers refused to give up and gave effort on both sides of the ball.

In the end, the Nuggets were a better team and have one of the best players in the NBA with Jokić.

Los Angeles struggled to shoot efficiently from the free-throw line and beyond the arc, which contributed to the loss.

Westbrook played well, but he was 5-10 when shooting free throws. We know about his struggles to make them all year, but his misses were crucial and could’ve kept the Lakers in it late.

It’s beyond me why coach Frank Vogel has removed Austin Reaves from the rotation completely. The rookie’s tenacity and effort would help a squad that is inconsistent at both tasks.

The Lakers cannot afford to lose any more games if they want to have a chance at the play-in. San Antonio, who is currently the 10th seed, is now two games ahead of them for the tenth seed. The Spurs also have the advantage with the tiebreaker, meaning the Lakers will need to win three games more than them to surpass them.

But, it’s going to be tough. The Lakers’ remaining schedule includes the Suns, Warriors, Thunder, and the Nuggets. Three of those teams are bound for the playoffs.

This team needs to get it together, fast. Otherwise, it’s 1,2,3, Cancun.

Knowing the way this season has went, all hope seems lost for this squad. It’s time to play the young guys and evaluate for next year. Keeping guys like LeBron and Anthony Davis healthy instead of forcing them to play through injury should also be a priority. No point in playing if you’re not playoff-bound.

For more on the NFL, check out Belly Up Sports and follow me on Twitter. Also, check out the Case and Nate Show podcast, hosted by yours truly alongside my longtime friend Casey White!

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Nathan Nguyen

As a student at San Jose State University, I strive to give my thoughts on the Los Angeles Lakers after every game and keep you updated on the New York Giants.

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