Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for LA

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 5: Team captains shake hands before a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets at STAPLES Center on January 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Behind an offensive explosion, the Denver Nuggets (16-17) blew the Los Angeles Lakers (14-20) away by a final score of 137-115 on Sunday night.

The Nuggets scored 77 points in the final two quarters alone, making the Lakers defense look miserable in the process.

They were led by Timofey Mozgov's 20 points and seven rebounds and Ty Lawson's 20 points and 12 assists.

The Lakers got another solid game out of Pau Gasol (25 points and 10 rebounds), but the lack of defense submarined their chances in the second half.


Key Player Grades

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 5: Robert Sacre #50 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate during a game against the Denver Nuggets at STAPLES Center on January 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
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Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers, Power Forward/Center

Gasol did a solid job offensively for most of this game, benefiting greatly from the playmaking and passing of new point guard Kendall Marshall.

The recent D-League call-up did a good job of finding in Gasol in good spots, and Gasol did his job to knock down the open shot more often than not.

The situations that got him into trouble were isos against Mozgov. On a few occasions, Gasol caught the ball in the post and tried to go one-on-one after a clear out. The results weren't pretty. He was most effective in catch-and-shoot or catch-and-finish opportunities out of pick-and-rolls.

Defensively, Gasol struggled to keep up with the energy and activity of Mozgov, who beat him up and down the floor countless times.

Grade: B-


Kendall Marshall, Los Angeles Lakers, Point Guard

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 5: Mike D'Antoni and Kendall Marshall #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers converse during a game against the Denver Nuggets at STAPLES Center on January 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
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The playmaking is no joke, but Kendall Marshall has some pretty glaring weaknesses, and they were on display against the Nuggets Sunday.

First, consistency with his shot is going to be a problem. He scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the Utah Jazz on Friday, but followed that up by shooting just 3-of-10 from the field Sunday.

His shot is often flat, and it's a set shot with a motion that starts below his head. The trajectory makes it hard to get good rolls from the rim, and the delivery makes it difficult to get shots off against quick defenders.

The other problem for Marshall against the Nuggets was his defense. It may not be fair to say that he couldn't stay in front of Lawson, since most people can't. Nevertheless, Denver's point guard blew by Marshall on more than one occasion like a Corvette going by a semi on the highway.

But it wasn't all bad. Like I said, that playmaking is serious. After posting 15 assists in his first start of the season, he came back Sunday with 17 more.

And he does more than just set guys up with his passing. Marshall is keenly aware of what's happening offensively on every possession. One such example was pointed out by the Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus:

If he can make some marginal improvements in those areas in which he struggles, Marshall will be a valuable guard in the NBA.

Grade: B-


Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers, Small Forward

Wesley Johnson struggled to have any kind of positive impact against the Nuggets, going 1-of-5 from the field for two points.

He also grabbed only three rebounds and struggled to slow down Wilson Chandler and Evan Fournier on the other end of the floor.

Grade: F


Jodie Meeks, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard

Like most of the Lakers Sunday night, Jodie Meeks had a good game offensively but was roasted defensively. He scored 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting but was scored on easily by numerous Nuggets.

He had a shot at and failed to cover Randy Foye, Evan Fournier and Nate Robinson.

Grade: C+


Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers, Center

Seeing a trend here? Sacre had one of his better games of the season as a scorer but was abused by Timofey Mozgov.

His 6-of-6 shooting and 15 points were nice, but Sacre is in the game for defense and rim protection, and he provided very little of either of those things.

Grade: C


Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard/Small Forward

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 5: Nick Young #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on from the bench during a game against the Denver Nuggets at STAPLES Center on January 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees tha
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Nick Young's 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting off the bench wasn't enough to offset 33 total points from Fournier and Robinson.

He was his typically fun and exciting self on offense, but had almost no impact defensively.

Grade: C+


Bench, Los Angeles Lakers

Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill were the three other Lakers off the bench besides Nick Young. They combined to shoot 6-of-16 from the field on the way to 20 points.

Again, not bad offensively, but none of them did much, if anything, to slow down the Nuggets' attack.

Grade: C


What's Next?

The Lakers have now lost seven of their last eight games, and things are only going to get tougher for them. They're on the road against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m ET. 

The defense will be tested once again. Coming into Sunday, the Nuggets were averaging 100.3 points a game compared to 102.9 for the Mavericks.

More fireworks could be in store.


For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.