The Los Angeles Lakers did their best to pull off a late rally against the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their Western Conference Finals series, but ended up falling just short of their goal, suffering a 132-126 defeat in the series opener. The Lakers showed great fight, but were ultimately unable to overcome their slow start to pick up the victory here.

For the most part, the Lakers did their job when it came to scoring on offense, but they could not slow down Denver on the other side of the ball. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray both absolutely destroyed Los Angeles throughout this game, which hurt even more considering how they fell just a few points short of winning.

This will be a tough loss for LA to swallow, but they will get another shot to steal home court advantage back in Game 2 on Thursday night. But first, it will be important to take a look at what went wrong for the Lakers in Game 1, so let's pick out the three players most to blame for this loss and see why that's the case.

3. Anthony Davis

Including Anthony Davis on this list may seem extremely shortsighted, and well, based on his offensive outing, that point cannot be argued. Davis was getting whatever he wanted on offense for the Lakers (40 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST, 14/23 FGM) and looked like the player that the Lakers are going to need him to be if they intend on winning this series.

The problem was that Davis got cooked by Jokic on the other end of the floor. Jokic scored 20 of his 34 points on 8/10 shooting while being guarded by Davis, while also racking up 11 assists compared to just one turnover with Davis guarding him as well. Davis actually scored 22 of his 40 points while being guarded by Jokic, but the Nuggets got the win, so that doesn't really matter.

In order to win this series, Davis is going to have to be the anchor for Los Angeles' defense, but in Game 1, he let Jokic run wild, and it resulted in a loss. Even in a game where he poured in 40 points, Davis has to shoulder some of the blame thanks to his inability to slow down Jokic throughout much of this contest.

2. Dennis Schroder

Live and breathe the NBA?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

Dennis Schroder likely wasn't expecting to play 32 minutes in this contest, but when crunch time in the fourth quarter approached, he ended up being the point guard Darvin Ham stuck with during clutch time. It didn't really work, though, because Schroder was unable to slow down the second half of Denver's dynamic duo in Murray on defense.

Schroder was a bit of a nonfactor on offense throughout this one despite seeing such a large chunk of action (6 PTS, 5 AST, 3 REB, 2/3 FGM) which certainly didn't help. But defensively, he was the main culprit for Murray's big night, as the star Denver guard scored 13 points on 4-6 shooting when Schroder was against him. It's not as bad as Davis, but Schroder didn't do nearly as much as him on offense.

The Lakers guard depth did not step up in this game (more on that in a second) and it ultimately saw them waste a pair of big performances from Davis and LeBron James. Schroder will likely continue to get picked on defensively throughout this series if he has to keep seeing big minutes, so hopefully the next player on this list can bounce back after a rough Game 1 outing.

1. D'Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell has run hot or cold for much of these playoffs, so he chose a really bad time to have a rough outing in Game 1. Russell finished with just eight points on 4-11 shooting with assists as well, but that was pretty much it from him. He looked lost for much of the night offensively, struggling to hit his shots or find teammates who were open.

Things got so bad for Russell that he ended up getting benched in favor of Schroder with the game on the line. Again, as we just saw, Schroder wasn't particularly effective in any area of this game, which only makes this development more frustrating. If Russell cannot play like a starting caliber point-guard, the Lakers are toast.

Game 1 showed just how important Russell is going to be for Los Angeles moving forward. Even with Davis and James doing everything they could to win this game, they couldn't because of how good Jokic and Murray were. Russell is going to have to play up to his typical standards in Game 2 and beyond, or else Denver could end up making quick work of LA in this series.