Hollinger's Week That Was – The Athletic

Hollinger’s Week That Was – The Athletic

The Lakers’ season is over. Now what?

It’s been obvious for some time to all the passengers onboard that the train is headed this way, but Sunday’s results seemed to remove any lingering doubt about the final destination of the Lakers’ woebegone season. With LeBron James sitting out while nursing a sprained ankle and a one-legged Anthony Davis trying and failing to counteract the league’s reigning MVP, the Lakers were outmatched against the Denver Nuggets. They didn’t play notably badly; in fact, Russell Westbrook might have had his best game of the season. They just weren’t good enough.

The loss, combined with San Antonio’s win later that night over the Portland Tankers, dropped the Lakers two games behind the Spurs in the standings for the final Play-In spot with four contests to play. The Lakers also lose the tiebreaker to San Antonio and thus must make up three games on San Antonio in the next week. The Spurs’ magic number is two; the Lakers could be eliminated as early as Tuesday.

It’s not technically over, then, but … it’s over.

As if to underline how far they’ve fallen, the Lakers were outclassed by the same Denver team that they easily beat in the conference finals two years ago … even though the Nuggets have two max contract players who are out for the season.

Put simply, the 2021-22 Lakers were a paper tiger, a hollowed-out facsimile of the team that dominated the 2020 Bubble.

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