Hope is not yet lost for the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA Playoffs take seven games to win a series and they have proven that they are capable of bouncing back throughout the regular season. LeBron James and Anthony Davis poured their hearts out to keep the team afloat against the Denver Nuggets but Nikola Jokic's squad was just too much. Amid all the problems in the Lakers' schemes and calls, Magic Johnson posits that there were some individuals who did not contribute much.

“This Lakers loss isn't LeBron or AD’s fault. Just like I said the other day…the guards had to play well – and they didn't. Dlo was 1/9 from the 3-point line, Reaves was quiet most of the game, and they only combined for 26 points,” Magic Johnson wrote on X.

Guards crumbled

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts on the court floor during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets in game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena
© Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers legend does make a great point. Coach Mike Malone and the Nuggets defense prevented every single one of the guards from popping off. Starting guards D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves only combined for 26 points despite both of them playing for 41 and 37 minutes respectively. Gabe Vincent and Spencer Dinwiddie also could find their groove which led to the Lakers' eventual downfall.

Magic Johnson further hammered the point that Russell made a lot of crucial mistakes in this game. The Lakers legend even specifically pointed out a blown possession in the NBA Playoffs game which swung the momentum quite a lot.

“The 18 Nuggets points off offensive rebounds hurt the Lakers, but the momentum completely changed in the 3rd quarter when Dlo made that transition turnover which led to a Nuggets basket. He then missed a layup that would’ve put the Lakers up 5, and instead, the Nuggets tied the game and they never recovered,” Johnson explained.

There was a silver lining amid the loss. The duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis was able to dominate the frontcourt. Davis led the way by sinking 12 out of 23 of his field goal attempts and only missing one of his nine free throws for 32 points. He also put up a monster double-double with 14 rebounds. The King did a little bit of everything in this NBA Playoffs clash. James dropped a casual 27 points while delivering eight dimes and ripping six rebounds out of the backboard.

Nuggets slowly inching to eliminate the Lakers

Apr 20, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) and forward LeBron James (23) react during the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets in game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
© Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports


Johnson was not purely negative in his outlook on the game. He did give his flowers, albeit to Nikola Jokic and not to the Lakers.

“Jokic, who I believe will win the MVP award, had another unstoppable performance tonight, with 32/12/7!” he proclaimed.

The two-time MVP was at the center of a very efficient offense. With his help, the Nuggets were able to get 102 opportunities to score a field goal and they managed to sink 46.1% of those shots. They also lit up from outside by knocking down 35.7% of their attempts on 42 shots.

Everything was working well for the Nuggets. The best the Lakers can do in the next chapter of this NBA Playoffs matchup is to execute better. A comeback is still possible and all hope is never lost.