The Los Angeles Lakers have no margin for error against the Denver Nuggets — and that's if D'Angelo Russell shoots like he did in the regular season. So, after DLo's inauspicious 6-for-20 Game 1 showing to start the NBA Playoffs, Anthony Davis issued a basic recommendation to the series x-factor.

“Just get ready for Game 2,” Davis said after Denver's 114-103 win at Ball Arena on Saturday, their ninth straight win over Los Angeles. “We can't do anything about this. But you can do something about Game 2. We know what DLo brings to our team. … Just gotta do it.

“It's not a regular season game where we have time. We're down 0-1.”

Davis (44 minutes, 31 points) and LeBron James (41 minutes, 27 points) didn't get nearly enough help from the other starters. Russell — who averaged 20.8 points on 43% 3-point shooting and 6.6 assists since Jan. 13 — finished with 13 points (1-of-9 from 3) and three dimes.

Austin Reaves (13 points) spent most of his energy chasing Jamal Murray around. Rui Hachimura (seven points) was far too quiet.

Davis said “everybody” has to be more aggressive on Monday.

“Rui has to shoot the ball more, he only hit four shots. He has to be a little bit more aggressive. But we gotta see the ball go in.”

The defending champs' proclivity for exploiting Russell is well-documented. He averaged 6.2 points on 32% shooting in the 2023 Western Conference finals and was benched for Game 4. He struggled on opening night. He was played out of the game in the second half on March 2.

AD said he hadn't talked with Russell to glean if the guard's in a “mental” funk against Denver. The why doesn't matter, anyway.

“I do like the aggressiveness,” Davis stressed. “I think he's a player that never loses confidence in himself. I think when he sees a couple go in, he'll be a different player.”

Russell said he was encouraged by the quality of his looks.

“Great looks. I can't be mad. I don't recall the last time I got 20 shots. So for me to get 2o good looks — not 20 ‘good,' probably five or six of them were questionable. I know what I'm capable of. Honestly, I'm excited. I'm excited about that.

“Sometimes the ball just don't fall. I was locked in on the details and the little things just to try to stay on the floor defensively and things like that. And you look up, your shots aren't falling.

“So, no love lost. Can't be upset about that one. Be ready for the next one.”

The Lakers' problems ran bigger than Russell, Reaves and Hachimura. Ham and multiple players pointed to the stretch right before halftime when the Lakers saw a hard-earned 12-point lead evaporate as their intensity momentarily sagged. The Nuggets, fueled by a dominant Nikola Jokic (32 points, 15-of-23 FG, 12 rebounds) and a raucous atmosphere, carried the momentum through the third quarter.

For the game, Los Angeles was outscored by seven points in transition, outrebounded by nine, and surrendered 18 second-chance points.

“We can't be bad at defensive rebounding and transition,” said Davis. “Something that we struggled with against this team since last playoffs. We can't not excel in one of them. Especially not both. Once again, that's our Achilles heel. We have to be better in both departments, if not, one.”

“You almost have to play a perfect game anyway cause they don't really make mistakes,” noted Reaves.

The Lakers probably have to win the 3-point shooting battle to sniff an upset. They were one the most efficient outside shooting teams in the NBA since February. The Nuggets were one of five clubs that attempted fewer 3s per game than the Lakers. In Game 1, Denver shot the ball fine (15-of-42), but Los Angeles went 8-of-29.

“They made shots and we were not very good offensively,” said LeBron, who made 3-of-5 from downtown. “I thought we had some good looks but we weren't able to connect.”

Ham could have pulled Russell as the game slipped away — especially after a deflating extended sequence during which he earned the brunt of LeBron's ire for a defensive lapse, then missed a layup and a jumper.

Instead, like Davis, the Lakers coach expects — nay, needs — to see the cold-blooded Russell from the regular season, not the ice-cold Russell of the conference finals.

“DLo is a huge reason why we're here in the first place,” said Ham. “I'm not gonna bail out on my player just because he's missing the shots he normally makes.

“It wasn't his night.”