Among the many issues the Lakers face as they try to dig themselves out of a 3-0 hole in the Western Conference Finals is the lack of production from their role players, Janis Carr of the Orange County Register writes.
Beyond their two superstars and Austin Reaves, the Lakers got modest contributions from the remaining members of the rotation in Game 3 against the Nuggets. D’Angelo Russell (three points), Dennis Schröder (five points) and Jarred Vanderbilt (two points) were non-factors offensively.
“I thought they did the best they could, all of them,” coach Darvin Ham said. “They competed. I’m disappointed but I’m not upset. Yeah, it sucks to lose, but those guys, they fought their hearts out. They tried to do it. They tried to execute what we gave them.”
We have more on the Lakers:
- Russell admitted he’s baffled by his ineffective play, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. Russell, who’s headed to free agency, shot just 1-for-8 from the field on Saturday. “I really don’t. I don’t know,” he said when asked about how his approach needs to change. “I’ll try to figure it out.” He’s averaging just 7.0 points in the series after contributing 14.7 PPG in the second round against Golden State.
- The Lakers will have another frontcourt option for Game 4 on Monday. Mohamed Bamba is expected to be available, Ham told Chris Haynes of TNT (Twitter link). Bamba, who has appeared in only three postseason games due to a left ankle injury, hasn’t played since Game 6 in the first round against Memphis.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s defensive contributions and 3-point shot-making were often taken for granted during the Lakers’ 2020 title run at the Orlando bubble. His all-around contributions for the Nuggets in this series are a painful reminder of the ill-fated Russell Westbrook trade in 2021, which included Caldwell-Pope as part of the package, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN notes. KCP is averaging 15.3 points on 51.4% shooting in the series.
- LeBron James is showing his age by his inability to carry the Lakers in this series, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times opines. James played well enough in Game 3 but wasn’t great, and he needed to be great to bridge the gap that exists between the Nuggets and Lakers.