LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks back to his bench while playing the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter during game two of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs.

Seven-time NBA champion Robert “Big Shot Rob” Horry pinned the blame on LeBron James‘ repeated isolation plays at the top of the key as the main culprit of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ collapse in Game 2.

“For me, the first thing I ever learned when I got into this league, [Hakeem] Olajuwon came to me and he was like, ‘Keep it simple,’” Horry said on the Spectrum SportsNet’s postgame show. “Down the stretch, the Lakers didn’t keep it simple.”

Jamal Murray’s buzzer-beating jumper capped a Denver Nuggets’ 20-point comeback to take a commanding 2-0 lead and won for the 10th straight time against the hard-luck Lakers on April 22.

anthony davis is a 4x all-nba defensive team selection and a 3x league leader in blocks and jamal murray looked at him guarding him one on one with the game on the line and was like “you are so fucking dead bro” 😭😭😭😭😭 what an absolute menace

Watch on X12:42 am · 23 Apr 20249790ReplyRead 108 replies

It was the second-largest blown lead by the Lakers in the playoffs since 1997.

‘That’s Not Winning Basketball’

Horry said the Lakers deviated from what worked in the first half, which enabled them to grab the huge lead over the Nuggets.

“What I mean by that is on the offensive end they started to do all these little screens and all these trickeries to try to get the mismatch,” Horry continued. “You know where the mismatch was? [Anthony Davis] on the post. For me, you have to understand mismatches.

LeBron is 39 [years old]. Yes, he’s one of the best players ever to play this game [but] he had no advantage [Monday night]. That [isolation play] at the top got them in trouble. You know why? Denver was able to rest on the defensive end. They sat there and waited on LeBron to make his move and then they went in — I love LeBron to death — but to me, that’s not winning basketball.”

James had the hot hands in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 26 points, but he missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 16 seconds left that set up Murray’s game-winner.

Maybe instead of complaining about the refs, LeBron James should have just made that wide open 3…

…which ironically was open because he pushed off and got away with it. https://t.co/WwjzHCQzTl pic.twitter.com/bl8jJAlC8g

— Joel Rush (@JoelRushNBA) April 23, 2024

“I know people are going to 𝓀𝒾𝓁𝓁 me for saying this because I’m talking about LeBron James,” Horry said.

‘We Totally Forgot Anthony Davis’

Davis feasted on Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in the first half with 24 points on 11 of 12 shooting from the field. But in the fourth quarter, he only had one attempt, which he missed, in 10 minutes.

“[Davis] was cooking but then you go away from that and to me, you got to understand it ain’t about ‘Me’,” Horry said. “It’s about ‘We’ in the playoffs and you got to go to the advantage and [Davis] in the second half — who had the advantage throughout the first half — we totally forgot about him.”

Davis led the Lakers in the loss with 32 points and 11 rebounds but he was also dumbfounded by their second-half collapse.

“We have stretches where we just don’t know what we’re doing on both ends of the floor,” Davis told reporters after the loss. “Those are the ones that cost us. So we got two days to get it right right and come ready to win Game 3.”

Nuggets’ 2nd Half Adjustment

After the Lakers repeatedly milked the Davis-Jokic mismatch on ball screens in the first half, the Nuggets made adjustments.

They switched their best interior defender Aaron Gordon on Davis while Jokic slid to the much smaller Rui Hachimura on defense in the second half.

It worked wonders for the Nuggets as the Lakers’ offense became stagnant.

Los Angeles had 17 assists in the first half but only dished seven in the second half.

The Lakers only had two assists in the fourth quarter courtesy of James, who finished with a game-high 12. But James also hoisted half of the Lakers’ 18 field goal attempts in the pivotal fourth quarter. He made 5 of 9 while the rest of the Lakers went 3 for 9.

“There’s a lot of things that went on in this game,” Horry said. “You can bring the substitution pattern on on the coaching staff, you can bring LeBron’s ISO and you can blame [Davis] for not taking the ball in the post.

There are so many things you can point out and when you’re in a playoff game and you have a lead like that, you don’t need to be fancy on the offensive end. Just be simple. Get it to the mismatch.”