The Los Angeles Lakers, on Tuesday night, looked poised to snap their nine-game losing skid against the Denver Nuggets dating back to last year's Western Conference Finals. LeBron James and Anthony Davis played very well, while D'Angelo Russell seemed to have exorcised his playoff demons against the Nuggets, as the Lakers took a 19-point lead in the third quarter of Game 2. They were well on their way to tying up the series and stealing homecourt advantage.

But the Nuggets showed why they are the reigning champions. They came storming back, buoyed by their locked-in defense in the final 20 minutes and 21 seconds of the game, and Jamal Murray capped off their comeback with a game-winning stepback jumpshot at the buzzer over Anthony Davis, giving the Nuggets a 101-99 Game 2 win over the Lakers.

All the Lakers could do now is process what went wrong for them as they let a very winnable game slip from their fingertips. For head coach Darvin Ham, he is urging the Lakers now to focus on the things they can control, pressed as they might feel about some of the officiating decisions that did not go their way.

“Some tough calls. Some tough non-calls. But you can't use any of that as an excuse. You gotta go out there and be ready to make plays whether the whistle gets blown or not,” Ham said in his postgame presser, per Michael Corvo, Lakers beat reporter for ClutchPoints.

Darvin Ham, however, was passive-aggressive in calling out the officials. The Lakers head coach implied that the game is officiated differently from game-to-game, and the referees seem to allow for more contact in the playoffs.

“It's getting real tricky — you go through the season, games being officiated one way, and then you get to the playoffs, and I guess it's left up to the interpretation of the three individual guys that's doing the job out there,” Ham added.

Nonetheless, the officiating isn't what cost the Lakers a golden chance at tying up the series. The series will be shifting to Arena on Thursday, so it will be important for the Lakers not to lose their cool after a morale-shattering loss at the buzzer to the reigning champion.

LeBron James makes his displeasure towards officials clear

While the Lakers shot themselves on the foot on multiple occasions during their backbreaking 101-99 Game 2 loss to the Nuggets, some of the officials' decisions did not go their way. In particular, late in the third quarter, D'Angelo Russell, despite being clearly hit in the face by Michael Porter Jr., did not get the benefit of the doubt from the officials. Referee Scott Foster called a foul on the floor, but had it overturned  by those in the Replay Center at Secaucus, New Jersey following a challenge.

LeBron James, the man who showed up for the Lakers in crunch time, clearly has had enough of these refereeing shenanigans.

“I don't understand what's going on in the replay center, to be honest. D-Lo clearly gets hit in the face on the drive. What the f**k do we have a replay center [for]? Makes no sense to me. It bothers me. And then I just saw what happened with the Sixers-Knicks game too… what are we doing?” James said in his postgame rant.

Frustrations are mounting for LeBron James and company, and understandably so. The Lakers must be asking what more must they do to overcome the Nuggets. They are quickly becoming the embodiment of the sentence, “When you try your best but you don't succeed”.  Nonetheless, the series isn't over until a team wins four games. But the Lakers have to figure things out quickly.

Lakers run out of steam in the clutch

The Lakers put up a spirited effort for most of the night. Anthony Davis, in particular, was dominant in the first half, finishing with 26 points while being a monster defensively — motivated by his DPOY snub. In the second half, however, Davis did not have the biggest of impacts.

He scored a total of eight points in the second half, including a grand total of zero points in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers scuffled offensively. Getting Davis the ball in the clutch has been a struggle for the Lakers, and it was no different on Tuesday night.

There is a feedback loop when a team struggles on offense. They allow more opportunities in fastbreak and in semi-transition, as they aren't able to set their defense, and as a result, they looked very tired in the dying embers of the game. D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves missed some shots, Rui Hachimura was MIA all night long, forcing LeBron James to shoulder a heavy crunch-time burden.

James almost met the challenge; he scored 12 points in the final frame, including a layup to give the Lakers a 99-97 lead late. But the Nuggets are never rattled. Can the Lakers be of a similar mindset as they head back home in a must-win Game 3?