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It's defense optional again for Lakers in 137-115 loss to Nuggets

Los Angeles LakersProfessional BasketballKendall MarshallPau GasolDenver NuggetsMike D'AntoniCleveland Cavaliers

The Lakers turned to the Marshall Plan again, new point guard Kendall Marshall giving them another solid game after being plucked from the Development League.

They're also open to fresh alternatives on defense after yielding 77 points in the second half and another big game to Timofey Mozgov, of all people.

The Denver Nuggets' backup center shredded the Lakers again Sunday night at Staples Center, his 20 points and seven rebounds at the forefront of his team's 137-115 victory.

In two games against the Lakers this season, Mozgov has scored 23 and 20 points, an inexplicable bonanza for a player who entered the game averaging 8.4 points and had not scored more than 17 against any other opponent.

"He's definitely had his way against us these last two games," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said in a bit of an understatement.

Mozgov made eight of 10 shots and added two blocks and two steals in only 21 minutes. His dominance was just one of several feel-bad story lines for the perpetually short-handed Lakers, who gave up a season high in points on the way to losing for the seventh time in eight games.

"What's that saying [from] Winston Churchill?" Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni asked. "When you're going through hell, just keep going, and that's what we've got to do."

Marshall had a career-high 17 assists and added nine points and six rebounds in his second start with the Lakers. But he struggled to stay in front of Nuggets counterpart Ty Lawson, his childhood idol and fellow former North Carolina Tar Heel who repeatedly drove past him for 20 points and 12 assists.

"I could have made it tougher on him," Marshall said, "but it's a learning experience, so I'll continue to get better from it."

Gasol had 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists but generated boos in the fourth quarter after Denver's Nate Robinson intercepted one of his passes and then flipped in a behind-the-back shot.

Not even Jodie Meeks' 23 points and Nick Young's 21 off the bench could amount to anything on a night the Lakers continually seemed a step slow. They gave up 30 fastbreak points and were outrebounded by 20.

Lakers center Robert Sacre even had to get five stitches after taking a shot to his chin. It was that kind of game.

"They get demoralized or something, they get tired," D'Antoni said. "It's like almost the air went out of us somehow, some way and we just don't have the backbone yet or as a team we don't have that grit that we need sometimes in hard times and we've got to find that."

Gasol said he was doing his best to remain upbeat despite persistent rumors of a possible trade to Cleveland. He has averaged 24.3 points, 11 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his last three games.

"It's just a love for the game and a sense of pride and loyalty to my teammates and myself and the fans," Gasol said of his recent consistency.

Kobe Bryant had a creative response when asked whether he felt the need to show support for his teammate to the Lakers' front office.

"How much more am I supposed to support a guy, besides making a Pau flag and riding in there on a horse with the Spanish-colored paint on my face like I'm a Spaniard William Wallace or something?" Bryant said, referring to the Scottish war hero portrayed in "Braveheart."

"I mean, I don't know what else to do."

The Lakers certainly need someone to ride to the rescue, and fast.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles LakersProfessional BasketballKendall MarshallPau GasolDenver NuggetsMike D'AntoniCleveland Cavaliers
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