The Los Angeles Lakers strengthened their chance of securing their 2017 first-round pick after a 129-101 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Despite having a career night, Ivica Zubac expressed his frustration with the Lakers performance against the Nuggets.
“We didn’t compete. We weren’t ready. It’s a shame for our team,” Zubac said. “We are young and all the young guys are playing and we should all be happy to be on the court. We should compete every second out there and we obviously didn’t do that tonight. We should be ashamed. Next game, we should go as hard as we can to correct this game.”
The Lakers remain as the worst team in the Western Conference. Though they will benefit with their current standing, coach Luke Walton wants his young players to show improvements every game. Their performance in the remaining games of the season will be vital since it will determine how will the Lakers look in the succeeding years.
Walton revealed their plan to use the final months of the season to prioritize the development of their young players. The departure of Lou Williams, Jose Calderon, and Marcelo Huertas helped the young backcourt players to have more playing time. Their biggest free-agent acquisitions, Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, last summer found themselves out of the rotation to give way for the young core.
Ivica Zubac becomes the youngest Laker to record a 25-point double-double
Ivica Zubac, who started for the second straight game, showed an incredible performance against the Denver Nuggets. The 19-year-old Croatian center posted 25 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and one block on 80 percent shooting from the field. He became the youngest player in franchise history to record a 25-point double-double. However, Zubac isn’t pleased with the outcome of the game.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Zubac said. “Nobody cares. Twenty-five points but we lose by 30. That doesn’t mean anything. I’d rather score five points and help the team win.”
Coach Luke Walton also said that the Lakers lack competence in their blowout loss to the Nuggets. Aside from starting Ivica Zubac, Walton decided to replace D’Angelo Russell with Jordan Clarkson as his starting point guard. However, he failed to see what he expected from Clarkson after the Lakers gave up early in the game.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to see what we were looking for with JC in the starting lineup because of the lack of competing that happened tonight,” Walton said. “(It) never allowed us to fully be engaged in the game outside of the first six to eight minutes.”
Photo courtesy: @ivicazubac/Twitter