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Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 120-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets

Lakers forward Julius Randle drives between Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay, left, and J.J. Hickson during the first quarter of a game against Denver at Staples Center on Nov. 3.

Lakers forward Julius Randle drives between Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay, left, and J.J. Hickson during the first quarter of a game against Denver at Staples Center on Nov. 3.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers (0-4) are still winless on the 2015-16 season after a Tuesday-night letdown to the Denver Nuggets (2-2). Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 120-109 loss at Staples Center.

1. The Nuggets came in short-handed with injuries to Wilson Chandler, Jusuf Nurkic, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic, leaving the team with just one player at 6-foot-10 (Danilo Gallinari) and two at 6-foot-9 (Darrell Arthur and J.J. Hickson); yet it was 6-foot-7 Kenneth Faried who was the team’s most lethal weapon against the Lakers.

Faried, playing center, finished with 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting, with 15 rebounds. Point guards Emmanuel Mudiay (10 assists) and Jameer Nelson (nine) looked for Faried continuously on the pick and roll, and the forward rewarded his guards with the finish.

“We just played Nuggets basketball,” said Faried. “We can’t just come down and shoot it. There has to be one pass, two passes, three passes. It can’t just be a one-man show. We don’t have that type of player.”

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2. Jordan Clarkson led all scorers with 30, tying a career high in points and made field goals (12).

D’Angelo Russell dished six assists, a career-best in just his fourth NBA game.

Brandon Bass hit 1,000 career rebounds, ending the night at 1,002.

Tarik Black got his first meaningful rotations minutes of the season, scoring seven points with eight rebounds. Black supplanted Ryan Kelly in the second half, playing a total of 18 minutes for the game with Kelly down to 9 1/2 and Bass at almost 19.

On the season, Bass is shooting 38.9% and Kelly 31.6%, while Black is at 50.0%, albeit on fewer attempts in fewer minutes.

3. Lou Williams helped keep the Lakers close for some of the fourth quarter, but the team’s defense just couldn’t get the necessary stops to catch the Nuggets.

Both teams made numerous trips to the free-throw line, especially Williams.

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“One area of concern is our inability to defend without fouling,” said Denver Coach Mike Malone. “We put them on the foul line 38 times. Lou Williams, aka ‘Michael Jordan,’ went to the foul line 19 times, I believe.”

Williams converted a career-high 16 of his attempts for 24 points. The Lakers hit 31 free throws (81.6%) while the Nuggets hit 27 of 31 (87.1%).

Perhaps the most notable difference between the two teams offensively was in the assist column. Denver had 30 to the Lakers’ 18, playing a better brand of team ball offensively -- and/or the Lakers’ defense was just that porous.

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4. Julius Randle pushed through an eye injury that sent him to the locker room during the second quarter. He was able to finish the game with goggles.

Through four games, Randle is averaging 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 45.8% from the field.

“He keeps getting better,” said Coach Byron Scott after the game. “Like most guys in this league, he had a tough time with Kenneth [Faried], keeping him off the glass, but he came to me in the second half and said he’s not getting another offensive rebound.’”

Faried had three in the first half, his fourth came in the final period with Randle on the bench.

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“He takes challenges. That’s the thing I love about Julius,” continued Scott. “He has to learn, as a 20-year-old, how to play every play.”

5. The Lakers are one of four teams without a win this season. They’ll face the Brooklyn Nets (0-4) on Friday.

Additionally, the Philadelphia 76ers (0-3) and injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans (0-4) are still looking for their first victory.

The NBA still has three teams with perfect 4-0 records (Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors and Clippers). That number will dip to two with the Clippers visiting the Warriors on Wednesday.

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The Lakers are currently four full games behind both the Clippers and Warriors in the Western Conference, but just two in back of the eighth-place Dallas Mavericks (2-2).

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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