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In a must-win game Saturday night, the Lakers can’t afford to have any weak links.
And that’s exactly what D’Angelo Russell did in Los Angeles’ 119-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets on their home floor at Crypto.com Arena to fall into a dreaded 3-0 series hole against No. . 1 seed in the West.
It was the Lakers’ first loss at home in the playoffs.
Russell, who was the team’s biggest acquisition before the trade deadline last February, had just three points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field and 1-of-6 from three-point range. He also had three turnovers in the loss.
Coach Darvin Ham had to take him in place of Rui Hachimura while Russell only played 20 minutes of Hachimura’s 34.
It may be a move Ham will have to make permanent if the Lakers have any hope of overcoming a 3-0 deficit, which has never been done before.
Despite Russell’s terrible night, Los Angeles still managed to keep it close for most of the night, even holding a lead early in the fourth quarter. But it was not enough despite 28 points and 18 rebounds by Anthony Davis and 23 points and 12 assists by LeBron James.
The Lakers nation vented their anger towards Russell after the loss.
Flow of Mink @curry piston
D’Angelo Russell shooting 20% FG vs. Russell Westbrook shooting 20% FG for the Lakers
D’angelo Russell 2023 WCF highlights – Loading Complete? 🔥🔥🔥 1080p pic.twitter.com/nH7LtJW1HU
DM FOR N4N (as limited) @CookedByD_Lo
Where will D’Angelo Russell play next season? pic.twitter.com/uwjuHZmIVy
Russell’s performance immediately led Lakers fans to call for the team to acquire Mavericks star guard Kyrie Irving this offseason.
It’s something the fanbase has been groveling for all year. And now on the brink of elimination, the calls are louder than ever.
As for the Nuggets, their star duo of Nikola Jokic´ and Jamal Murray showed up again. Murray was excellent, scoring 30 of his game-high 37 points in the first half along with seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.
From 2-10 to the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers have had a good run this postseason. But without a miraculous performance in the rest of the series, their season looks like toast.
If they’re going to get back into this series it will start with defending home court in Game 4, which is scheduled to take place Monday night at 8:30 pm ET.