The Lakers were straight up out-hustled in taking a 126-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
There was an air of fatigue and frustration in the way the team played. Whether it was Dwight Howard getting ejected or Metta World Peace fouling out late in the game, the Lakers seemingly lost sync over the last 24 hours.
The eye-opening stat of the night to support this hypothesis was the 25 extra opportunities to score.
“You can’t play a team on the road and just time after time you stop them [then] they get the rebound and put it back in, you can’t do it,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni.
All the coach could do after the game was to throw up his hands, shake his head and shrug his shoulders at the way his team played.
“I don’t know, you have to ask them,” he said to a question about what was wrong with his team on Wednesday. “Whatever it was we didn’t come up with the ball and they did. So somebody did something, and we didn’t do it.”
As they do to a lot of teams, the Nuggets made the Lakers pay for coming out flat, Dwight Howard in particular.
Howard’s foul on Kenneth Faried came purely from that frustration and fatigue shared by the whole team. Faried was being his usual aggressive self when he drove the lane and ran into the business end of Dwight Howard’s palm.
Howard said after the game it was “just a hard foul.”
“I’ve been fouled harder than that before and nobody has ever gotten kicked out the game for it,” Howard said.
Kobe Bryant, who extended his streak of scoring at least 30 points to 10 straight games, countered Howard by saying it was the right call. While he does think it was a Flagrant 2, he doesn’t feel Howard will face a one-game suspension.
As far as the game and the rest of his squad, Bryant said “we were just a step slow. Seems like we were just stuck in the mud. We played old and they played with a lot of energy and a lot of youth, playing up and down [the court]…seemed like we were on a lower gear all night.”
The Lakers other leader, Steve Nash, agreed that they failed to match the level of play brought on by the Nuggets.
But the All-Star guard pleaded the fifth: “Sometimes when you don’t have anything nice to say, you just don’t say anything at all.”
Well done Mr. Nash. Well done.
The Lakers’ next game is against another high energy team in the Portland Trail Blazers who have won six of their last seven games, including a win against the Denver Nuggets.
You can follow JD Carrere on Twitter at @SportsNetJunkie.