Lakers legend Magic Johnson has criticized what he perceives as a lack of team effort following their 133-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
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The Lakers fell to 21-22 on the season with the loss and are now two games behind the Nuggets in the Western Conference standings.
This was Los Angeles’ third straight loss.
Los Angeles has struggled with consistency this season, for various reasons, but after the blowout at Mile High City, Johnson expressed his frustration on Twitter saying owner Jeannie Buss deserved better.
After being defeated by the Nuggets 133-96, we as @Lakers The fans can accept being outdone, but we deserve more than a lack of effort and a lack of sense of urgency. Owner @JeanieBuss, You deserve more.
—Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 16, 2023
There has been a sense that something is not right in Laker land since the start of the season and Johnson, who is known for his generic tweets, was probably just amplifying a sentiment held by many in the Lakers fan base. .
Against Denver, the Lakers gave up 73 points in the first half, that’s the most points the Lakers have given up in a first half this season and the second time they’ve allowed the opposition to score 70 points (Houston scored 70 points the November 2, 2023). Los Angeles wasted another impressive night from LeBron James, who had 25 points and nine rebounds. Russell Westbrook, who has been heavily criticized in recent weeks, finished with 19 points.
After the game, the point guard was asked about Johnson’s comments, but Westbrook said Johnson wasn’t with the team long enough to know what was going on behind the scenes.
“I don’t have a reaction,” Westbrook said. “Everyone is entitled, in this world, to their opinion. Regardless of what it is. You can take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and take it out the other or you can’t answer that.
Russell Westbrook says he’s not reacting to Magic Johnson’s tweet criticizing the Lakers’ effort. He said Magic “have a right to their opinion” and that he’s not around the team every day to see what’s really going on.
—Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) January 16, 2023
Westbrook admitted that the Lakers need to play harder going forward.
“We have to play hard,” he said. “Sometimes the schemes and how you play don’t really matter. Sometimes you have to play hard. Teams are playing harder than us, simple as that.”
With the trade deadline fast approaching, Rob Pelinka must make some moves to try and salvage what’s left of the 2023-22 season.
The Lakers will face the Utah Jazz on Monday in Los Angeles.