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Basketball Daily Dose

Lakers' consecutive big losses are worrisome

by Matt Ellentuck
Updated On: March 24, 2021, 9:41 am ET

The first two games without LeBron James and Anthony Davis have gone about as poorly as you’d imagine for the Lakers. On Sunday, they lost by 17 points to the Suns, and on Tuesday, they were completely overpowered by the Pelicans, 128-111. They’d only lost by double-digit points three times all season and have now dropped a pair in 72 hours. 

Opposing superstars have ripped L.A’s defense to shreds. In 96 minutes without James or Davis, the Lakers have allowed Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker to make 21-of-35 shots for 52 points and Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to combine to make 23-of-34 shots for 53 points. Yikes! (But fantasy managers, take note.)

In terms of wins and losses, it’s tough to see a path where this Lakers roster as currently constructed can win a string of games until one of their superstars return. Their defense has plummeted without either anchor and there are so few scoring options that the offense is consistently stagnant. If Montrezl Harrell gets moved for a slashing forward or a true secondary play-maker, maybe they can salvage a top-4 seed in the Western Conference. But even that’s a maybe.

For fantasy purposes, Kyle Kuzma’s numbers have been eye-opening, though. Keep an eye on his progress. In back-to-back games, he’s set season-highs with six and then seven assists in a game. He’s also grabbed 16 boards in both games combined while matching his third-best two-game 3-point shooting stretch of the year, draining six 3-pointers. He’s taken eight attempts from distance each night. 

Kuzma’s turnovers are also noteworthy. His second game was sloppier than his first, turning the ball over six times compared to one, but he did score 29 points over the two games. His stock has the potential to hit its peak as the Lakers reconfigure and he becomes a more essential part of what they do. 

Can Kuzma help lift fantasy lineups and push the Lakers past the finish line until LeBron and AD are healed? Heck, there’s a chance.

Let’s talk about all six games from Tuesday night. 

Nuggets 110, Magic 99

The great

Nikola Jokic — Of course, the best fantasy player in the NBA triple-doubled for the 11th time this season, scoring 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting with 15 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one block, and just three turnovers in 36 minutes.

Evan Fournier — Fournier led all scorers with 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting with five made 3-pointers, six assists, one rebound, one steal, and just one turnover in 36 minutes. Was this his last game in Orlando?

The good

Jamal Murray — Murray scored 21 points on just 8-of-21 shooting but added a pair of 3-pointers, four assists, four rebounds, two steals, and just two turnovers.

Will Barton — Barton stepped up big on Tuesday, scoring 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting including two triples, six rebounds, one assist, three steals, one block, and two turnovers in 36 minutes.

Al-Farouq Aminu — Aminu had his best game of the season by far, scoring 17 points with 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block, and three turnovers in 29 minutes. His stock could rise if Aaron Gordon gets shipped out of Orlando by the trade deadline on Thursday.

Knicks 131, Wizards 113

The great

Julius Randle — Randle’s 37 points were the second-most he’s scored in a game this season and he did it on 13-of-24 shooting and 7-of-10 3-pointers, which tied a career-best. He also grabbed six boards with two assists, and three turnovers in 38 minutes.

Bradley Beal — Beal led all Wizards with 22 points on 6-of-15 shooting. He didn’t make a single 3-pointer but did make all 10 of his free-throws to go along with four assists, four rebounds, one steal, and five turnovers.

The good

RJ Barrett — Barrett scored 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting with one 3-pointer, five rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and two turnovers in 39 minutes.

Mitchell Robinson — In Robinson’s second game back from injury, he double-doubled with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 12 rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and two turnovers in a full 31 minutes. 

Noteworthy

Russell Westbrook — Westbrook only made 3-of-14 shots and no 3-pointers, but he did double-double with 14 points, 12 assists, four rebounds, two steals, and four turnovers in 29 minutes.

Pelicans 128, Lakers 111

The great

Kyle Kuzma — In the Lakers’ second game without LeBron James or Anthony Davis, Kuzma played a do-it-all role, scoring 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting with four made 3-pointers, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and one steal, though he turned the ball over six times in 34 minutes.

Brandon Ingram — Ingram scored a season-high 36 points against his former team on a tremendous 14-of-21 shooting with four 3-pointers, four assists, three rebounds, and just one turnover in 34 minutes.

Zion Williamson — The Pelicans’ young stars were incredible on Tuesday. Williamson scored 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting, 9-of-10 free-throw shooting, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one turnover in 29 minutes.

The good

Dennis Schroder — Schroder scored 15 points on just 2-of-10 shooting but made 10-of-12 free-throws, one 3-pointer, and dished seven assists with four rebounds, two steals. He had no turnovers in 35 minutes. 

Nickeil Alexander-Walker — In another game without Lonzo Ball, NAW started and scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting including three, 3-pointers, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, and four turnovers. He could become a permanent starter if Ball is moved by Thursday’s deadline. 

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Suns 110, Heat 100

The great

Deandre Ayton— Ayton had a huge game, scoring 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 16 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and just two turnovers in 34 minutes.

Kendrick Nunn — Nunn scored 25 points on a stellar 10-of-19 shooting including five made 3-pointers on nine tries with three rebounds, one assist, and no turnovers in 35 minutes.

The good

Devin Booker — Booker scored 23 points on a great 10-of-19 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers, though he only added five rebounds, three assists, and no other stats. He didn’t turn the ball over in 27 minutes.

Jimmy Butler — In just 27 minutes. Butler scored 14 points on 7-of-13 shooting with 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and five turnovers.

Bam Adebayo — Adebayo neared triple-double numbers with 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting, eight rebounds, six assists, one block, and just one turnover in 32 minutes.

Nets 116, Trail Blazers 112

The great

James Harden — Harden’s been incredible in a Nets uniform all year long and though he made just 7-of-24 shots for 25 points, he also dished 17 assists to just four turnovers and added seven rebounds and two steals in the win.

Enes Kanter — Kanter had a massive double-double with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 19 rebounds. He also added a season-high six assists and a block without a turnover in 40 minutes. 

The good

Nic Claxton — Claxton is seeing more time off the bench and played well on Tuesday, scoring 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting with nine rebounds and a block. 

Jeff Green — Green scored 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting with four rebounds, one assist, and just one turnover in 35 minutes.

Damian Lillard — Lillard’s 22 points came on just 5-of-17 shooting and three made 3-pointers but he made all nine free-throws and added nine assists, three rebounds, and just three turnovers in 38 minutes.

Sixers 108, Warriors 98

The great

Tobias Harris — Without Joel Embiid, Harris has turned his game up a notch. He scored 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting with a 3-pointer and added 13 rebounds, four assists, one block, and just three turnovers in 35 minutes.

Tony Bradley — Starting in place of Embiid, Bradley made all eight of his field-goal attempts and both free-throws for 18 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and just one turnover in 33 minutes.

Kelly Oubre Jr. — Oubre scored 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting and two made 3-pointers with 10 rebounds, three assists, one block, and no turnovers in 35 minutes.

The good

Ben Simmons — Simmons scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting but made just 8-of-14 free-throws. He did add eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two turnovers in 35 minutes, though.

Draymond Green — Green scored six points on 2-of-7 shooting but added nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and two steals, and just three turnovers in 34 minutes.

Matt Ellentuck

Matt Ellentuck is a freelance fantasy NBA writer for NBC Sports Edge. Previously, he was an NBA and WNBA reporter for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @mellentuck