There was actually a decent amount to like in Monday's 113-111 loss in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at the Crypt against the Nuggets. The Lakers, led by LeBron James (40 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, 48 minutes), played through the tape. They did not quit, even while understanding that a win on Monday likely wouldn't have a happy ending overall.
Unfortunately, there were too many things not to like. Anthony Davis did not provide nearly enough as LeBron was leaving everything he had on the floor. The Lakers, once again, couldn't shoot the ball well enough. Rui Hachimura (3-12) picked a bad night to be inefficient. Too many ill-timed fouls, not enough timely buckets.
And that third quarter. Oooof. 36-16 Denver, erasing a 15-point halftime lead, and giving the Nuggets more than enough incentive to try and finish things off without having to play Game 5.
Ultimately, though, whether it was Monday night in Game 4 or sometime in the (likely) near future, the Lakers were destined to lose this series because the Nuggets are a better team. By a pretty good margin, really. But while the ending was definitely disappointing - even most people who picked the Nuggets to win this series (and yes, Nuggets, there were many people who did) - had it in five, six or seven instead of a sweep, this should be remembered as one of the more improbably successful Lakers seasons in a long time. From dead-in-the-water leading into the trade deadline to the Western Conference Finals? That's an incredible turnaround.
They were a little short, in terms of overall pieces, continuity, and timely performances. They had too many guys who hit bad stretches at the wrong time, and without question were physically exhausted for playing what amounts to three months of playoff basketball.
What could have been a total disaster of a season turned into something pretty special, with many, many reasons to be optimistic heading into the offseason.
HOSTS: Andy and Brian Kamenetzky
SEGMENT 1: The Lakers lose, and are eliminated from the playoffs after a 113-111 loss in Game 4.
SEGMENT 2: More on LeBron, plus a cryptic end to his postgame press conference.
SEGMENT 3: Reflecting on an incredible turnaround, and a tough game for Anthony Davis.
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