Nuggets Rout LeBron James, Lakers Behind Nikola Jokic Triple-Double

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2022

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, works the ball inside as Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, left, and center Dwight Howard defend in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday Jan. 15, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The Los Angeles Lakers' topsy-turvy season has taken another dip.

The Denver Nuggets handed L.A. its third straight loss Saturday night, absolutely smashing the Lakers 133-96 behind Nikola Jokic's eighth triple-double of the season and a Bones Hyland double-double.


Jokic showing off the footwork 👣 <a href="https://t.co/lgWDzbWRnf">pic.twitter.com/lgWDzbWRnf</a>

Denver moved to 22-19 on the season with the win, while the Lakers dipped back under .500 (21-22) with the loss. One piece of good news for the Lakers in an otherwise disappointing season to date is that just six teams in the Western Conference have winning records to date.

The other piece of good news is that, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, there is "optimism" within the organization that superstar big man Anthony Davis "could return to game action sometime during L.A.'s long road trip at the end of the month."

The Lakers desperately need Davis. Since spraining his MCL in mid-December, they're just 5-8. And a Nuggets team dealing with its own injury issues this season hammered them Saturday, as Jokic added another bullet point to his MVP candidacy.

Key Stats

Nikola Jokic, DEN: 17 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds

Bones Hyland, DEN: 27 points, 10 rebounds

Jeff Green, DEN: 26 points, four assists

LeBron James, LAL: 25 points, nine rebounds

Russell Westbrook, LAL: 19 points, five rebounds

Dwight Howard, LAL: 13 points

Bones Hyland Had Himself a Night

While Jokic was busy showing off why he should win his second straight MVP, Hyland was having fun.


Bones Hyland is feelin' it on <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>!<br><br>21 PTS<br>7-9 FGM<br>5-6 3PM <a href="https://t.co/IIheWsMFxy">pic.twitter.com/IIheWsMFxy</a>

The rookie set career highs in points, (27), made threes (six) and rebounds (10). He was awesome Saturday.

Harrison Faigen @hmfaigen

Bones Hyland is scorching anyone the Lakers leave on Bones Island

Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball

Bones Hyland has been SPECTACULAR tonight.

With Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. reportedly out until at least April, the Nuggets need players like Hyland to step up behind Jokic and Aaron Gordon. Hyland has been up-and-down this season, as to be expected from a rookie, but he showed out against the Lakers.

AD's Absence Is Killing the Lakers

The Lakers are a mess, and while some of the problems seem to be issues of wonky roster construction, there's little doubt that Davis' injury absence is exposing some fundamental concerns, namely on the defensive end.

Harrison Faigen @hmfaigen

So basically, Sam is right. Lakers haven't just been bad on D by contender standards. They're straight up horrible on that end in general since AD's injury

Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports

Just some truly brilliant failures on the defensive end from the Lakers

And that has to be at least part of why L.A.'s general vibe of late has just felt...off.

Kyle Goon @kylegoon

Pretty bad match of Lakers' low energy in a game they should really be able to compete in. This is the team that's directly ahead of them in the standings. They should have all the motivation in the world.

Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball

Lakers body language is *pretty* bad even for them tonight.

StatMuse @statmuse

The Lakers haven’t won a game vs a .500 team in a month.<br><br>They won vs the Mavs on December 15 and are 0-6 since. <a href="https://t.co/VDvfMV7k0L">pic.twitter.com/VDvfMV7k0L</a>

It would be easy to blame Westbrook's poor fit next to James, or the absence of AD, for the team's struggles. But the Lakers shouldn't go from good on the defensive end to downright dreadful without AD. There appear to be deeper issues with this team.

They now have half a season to resolve them.

What's Next?

The Nuggets will host the Utah Jazz on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET. The Lakers will look to end their losing streak the next night when they host the Jazz at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV.