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Michael Duarte | NBC Los Angeles Reporter; Lakers Insider

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
May 23, 2023 6:05 am

Michael Duarte | NBC Los Angeles Reporter; Lakers Insider

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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May 23, 2023 6:05 am

NBC LA reporter Michael Duarte joins the show to talk the Lakers' Game 4 loss, resulting in the end of their season.

Amy Lawrence Show
Amy Lawrence

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Find out more at That's S-E-E-W-H-Y. Into our lives, we are pleased to welcome our friend Michael Duarte from NBC LA who was in the arena just a few hours ago. I'm assuming you're not still in the arena, Mike? Nope, nope, not anymore.

I'm back home. Well, so what was the atmosphere like as the Lakers are building this 15-point lead? Was there hope there? Yeah, there was a lot of hope to start the game tonight in Game 4, Amy.

LeBron James, first and foremost, is the head of the snake and that's where it starts. He came out with a historic performance in the first half scoring 31 points. That's a playoff career high for LeBron James in year 20 at age 38.

We thought we'd seen everything and I know I've been hearing you. I've been listening to you on my way home and then, you know, as I was getting comfortable back in my place after that just intense, highly focused game, hearing you talk about the tired legs and yes, you're right. He played 48 minutes. He's been battling injuries. He's an older guy. I have the same aches and pains that LeBron does at this point.

We're about the same age, so I feel it. But you have to give the Denver Nuggets defense credit. They made a huge adjustment in the second half. They triple-teamed LeBron every time he got in the paint. They were not going to let LeBron beat them at the rim and that's what I saw in the second half is that 15-point lead you just mentioned evaporated faster than my paycheck and suddenly you have just Denver trapping and containing LeBron the paint and he was trying to defer to his teammates and I kept saying this on Twitter all night.

You need somebody else on the Lakers to step up. It didn't really look like Anthony Davis did it until late in the fourth quarter. By then it might have been a little bit too late and then again I was a little frustrated with Darvin Ham to kind of complain about the refs on that last play in his postgame press conference. You didn't see LeBron do that.

I saw it live and I've seen the play now and replay many times. I just thought that was a great defensive effort by both Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon and it was the time left on the clock because I think if there was two seconds left we might see LeBron gather that ball and somehow get it back up and in, but that's how it ended. As you point out, the Lakers and specifically the Denver Nuggets were able to attack the paint early. They ended up with 62 points in the paint which is more than half of their output but the tired legs then not having the outside shots that went down to kind of open things up and so the Nuggets even on that last play which is indicative they're double teaming LeBron so that he doesn't get a clean look. As you think about the four games in the series and only one of them separated by double figures in the end, what was the factor, what was the advantage of the Nuggets that put them over the top or that separated them from the Lakers ultimately?

Yeah, great question. You know the Lakers must have TSA pre because they got out of those western conference finals in four games quick. Listen to you with the quips.

I pride myself on it, Amy, but you know I don't have a couple more for you here but you know a couple things to your point. First and foremost, as you mentioned, I believe three of the four games with less than a minute remaining were down to one possession and late in the fourth quarter of game three which was the one game you know that was a little jointed there. Game two was the double digit one you talked about but late in those games they were still one possession games.

They were close games so that brings up your question which is that razor thin margin for error and where was the difference? One thing you have to look at is these Denver Nuggets, they've been together for a while. You know, they've been together for a while. You know, Nikola Jokic, one of the reasons why LeBron after he made his retirement rumors and hints you know his postgame press conference that I didn't run out with my colleagues to follow up on that was I wanted to go hear Nikola Jokic speak so I went over to hear him and he was talking about the fact that you know he was drafted by the Nuggets.

Jamal Murray was drafted by the Nuggets seven years ago. These guys came up together, they've added some pieces here recently in Aaron Gordon and KCP and Bruce and this team though now finally having the depth that it has, filling up the holes that they've got. They've played together for a while whereas this Lakers roster is a newborn baby. It's only been around for three months.

They've been figuring it out on the fly. LeBron only came back for the last two, three, four games of the regular season before this playoff push and run. So when it comes down to closing games late, the Nuggets have the experience, they have the superstars and Jokic and Murray to do it whereas like you mentioned the Lakers don't really know where to go. They have to rely entirely on LeBron James and he was gassed and out of the out of it was just empty in his tank late in all four of those games and so to put a little punctuation mark on this to me, Darvin Ham's decision to go small with the starting lineup in game one and keep D'Angelo Russell who was getting torn apart by Jamal Murray like he was string cheese. First three games of the series a minus 53 when he was on the court. To me that's the big difference because if Darvin Ham makes that adjustment earlier going to the bigger lineup to match Denver, I think the Lakers would have won a couple games in the series and we would still be having a series moving forward. Yeah his shooting was abysmal and some of that probably has to do with the fact that he was chasing Jamal Murray for a good portion of the series. Michael Duarte of NBC LA fresh off this game four between the Nuggets and the Lakers as Denver reaches its first NBA Finals in franchise history.

It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. I made this point going back to I think it was game two that the Denver Nuggets are done getting pushed around. They have been one of those bad jokes not yours of course Michael you don't make bad jokes. They have been one of these bad jokes in the NBA for a long time and it's it's so fitting that Carmelo Anthony retires right on this Monday because he was a was a Denver Nugget initially but they have they put a lot of effort into it never quite captured the formula even going back to 2020 which we know still motivates them. They've been an also ran for such a long time so they're done getting pushed around we even saw them well Aaron Gordon is he never will back down from a fight but the extracurricular activity the the jaw and the talking smack the pushing back with LeBron. How did you see them toughen up in this series? How did you see them play mentally and physically tough in this series? Yeah that's a great question Amy and I'm glad I'm talking to you my favorite host because I've been going through a flurry of radio hits this last month and we're putting the punctuation on the Lakers season tonight and turning out the lights but you know as great of a roller coaster story that this Lakers season was as we talked about starting two and ten and then all the trades they made at the deadline a whole new roster and then getting all the way to western conference finals upsetting a lot of higher seeds along the way. The better story here is the Denver Nuggets and as I mentioned a team that built there themselves through the draft that did it the right way that is in a small market that climbed the mountain so many times including in those Carmelo Anthony days when he used to battle Kobe Bryant in the western conference finals to finally and I wrote this in my story after the game to finally slay Goliath tonight. You know the Lakers and Nuggets have met in the playoffs seven this was the eighth series so seven times prior to the series wow they lost all seven times all seven times the Lakers they had never beaten the Lakers in a playoff series and not only did they beat them now they sweep them and they do it to get to their first NBA finals in their franchise's history trying to become trying to take themselves off that list of just 11 NBA teams who have never won the title hopefully I'm rooting for them I know they might play the heat but I'm rooting for them because they've done it the right way and they're a great story and so I think we should be talking more about them and how they did it and to your point going out and getting a guy like KCP who is so crucial to the Lakers championship run the bubble in 2020 going out and getting a Bruce Brown who you talk about physical an abuser a guy like that he was so integral this team too and then having veterans like Jeff Green that can come off the bench and even guys like DeAndre Jordan Reggie Jackson Thomas Bryant who didn't really play in this series those guys are veterans who've never won a ring and they're going to be fighting for that too so my cap is off to them and tip them and the last thing I would just say is LeBron James and Anthony Davis said that this was the best team they've played in the four years they've been together and that includes you know the heat in the finals the Suns that beat them in the playoff series a few years ago this was the best team they said the most complete team they've ever seen uh in the playoffs so that's a that's a big compliment to the Nuggets. Michael watching the NBA as closely as you do who did you think deserved to win the MVP award? I thought it was Nikola Jokic um I read an article during that time where they took the names out of it and they just said here's the stats tell me who should win the MVP and if you look at just the stats without the names attached Nikola Jokic had the stats in my opinion if you were blind just picking based off of that how many games he played his consistency almost averaging a triple double throughout the season the amount of wins he earned his team to me he was the MVP now with that said I have no problem with Joel Embiid getting it what he did for the Sixers was remarkable he's been so close so many times before I like parity I don't just like it if one guy dominates you know so long like the Bill Russell era is and Kareem winning five uh so I like that there was some parity here and I like what you said Amy if if Nikola Jokic had gotten the MVP but you were telling him he wouldn't be able to play in the NBA Finals he'd give all three of those MVPs back yes to be able to have a chance to win one Larry OB trophy so uh I I I agreed with the decision that it was MB but if you just looked at the stats alone I thought Jokic had the better numbers LeBron James certainly an MVP in many ways set the all-time scoring record this year we know he's talked in the past about wanting to play with his son when he gets to the league but specifically following this game in this sweep no doubt he's exhausted what did you make of his comments about his future yeah I like what you said about the Tom Brady and not making an emotional decision because I agreed with you that fresh off of this day and I want to talk about what you talked about earlier and that's Carmelo Anthony's retirement uh LeBron knew it was coming but I think he probably didn't see that video and I don't know if you've seen the video that Carmelo released on Twitter earlier today to announce his retirement but the end of that video where it turns from him to his son and how he's now living on through his son I think that really resonated with LeBron James I think hearing Carmelo one of his best friends in the world part of that draft class like we said with him and Dwayne Wade and now those guys are both gone from the league seeing that and knowing that maybe it is time for his son uh and seeing that he just lost and it's fresh in his mind uh I didn't just see his final comments as he walked off the podium as him hinting at retirement throughout his postgame press conference when any of us in the media and I was standing right there we're asking about next season or his future assuming he was coming back LeBron would like bite his lip be silent hold have like a weird look on his face I was like what's going on with him I picked it up right away that whenever he was talking about his future he was weird so I think if you were to ask him to make a decision right now after this game he'd probably choose retirement I also know LeBron James is the guy that likes attention and so having the narrative for the next few days about this I'm sure he's not going to mind being in the headlines and I do think Amy ultimately he's under contract with the Lakers next season if the Lakers can improve the roster I think D'Angelo Russell you know he was a guy two weeks ago that Lakers would have loved to have brought back I don't think you can bring him back now after watching uh what happened to him in this series I think if there's any way to go get a guy like Kyrie Irving you know Chris Paul might be available that's a veteran point where they need a point guard especially on this team to to lighten the load off of LeBron James Fred Van Fleet might be available as well if you can bring in one of those guys and try to keep some of the depth and bring some good pieces in for LeBron the fact that his son Bronny is going to be playing at USC he's going to be able to watch all those games Bryce is at a high school now closer in Studio City I think the allure to still play in LA wait for his son and be able to watch both his sons play by still playing in LA this year if he has the roster around him I think that allure is going to be too great and I think he ends up playing because I don't think he wants uh his legacy to end like this how would you evaluate the first season of Darvin Ham as the head coach of the Lakers oh that's a great question it's hard for me to answer that now because I felt like he got out coached by Mike Malone in this series Amy I just thought he was too late to make adjustments I don't I don't want to bring up the Frank Vogel years um but Frank Vogel in my opinion was a defensive genius and if you go back to that bubble run he changed the starting lineup for each one of those series he didn't wait until game four going into the series he knew I need bigs up against Nikolay Yokich so he started Dwight Howard alongside Anthony Davis even though the series before against the Rockets he went totally small uh so he's willing to do the matchups and play the matchups given to him series by series not just keep the same guys on the floor or keep guys that have been starting all year there just to kind of stroke their egos he was able to make the adjustments that would ultimately win this series I think Darvin Ham all playoff long was too late in doing that and so I know it's his first year and I hope he really learns from it and learns that you just got to do what it takes to win and get in advance rather than play the feelings game with some of these guys but overall from where they started to where they finished in a first year with trying to build a new culture new coaching staff new offense running through Anthony Davis having a completely different roster change six players in six players out the trade deadline you have to give Darvin Ham credit for guiding the ship the entire time because a lot of guys would have just jumped off and said I quit and I'm out and so I do give him respect for staying on the ship but I do think had he made some more adjustments in this series this could have been a six seven game series okay so Michael Duarte with us from Los Angeles before I let you go you know we always get off the beaten path with Mike what the heck has gotten into the Dodgers now oh my gosh yes injuries plaguing the Dodgers which we haven't seen for a while and unfortunately whether it's on purpose or not this roster was built to not be as talented as good as it was last year which won a NL record 111 games so right now they're really going through it you know Clayton Kershaw just briefly lost his mother Julio right Arias goes to the IL Dustin May goes this was the problem I feared I think we've talked about it on this show the depth of the Dodgers starting rotation and having to rely too much on the bullpen I know they're on this toward stretch I know they just beat the Braves I believe they have the best record in the National League again I still think they're a playoff team but this roster is not as talented not as deep as years past so I want to see how they handle this next month or so and if they can kind of still stay ahead and keep pace because they could fall pretty quickly with the with the starting rotation they have now if these guys are injured for too long not only do they have the best record in the National League they have the best home record in the National League which is saying something too all right Michael before I let you go because it's been a long day and as you say you are in such high demand right now you're so popular but does it make you feel good about our friendship and our relationship that I went to Sedona just because of you I went to Sedona and took a bazillion pictures of the red rocks just because of you and did you love it I loved it it's breathtaking from the time that you're still six or seven miles out of the town all the way through the town all the different rock formations my friends and I we stopped at various places and took photos of the rock formations we took selfies with the red rocks it was pretty incredible but I just want you to know I never would have done it if not for you yeah I don't want I don't want the praise like you just did it for me I just want my friends to experience just these amazing things and amazing places and I'm also glad you ran that half marathon so like I said you're building up for the marathon I want you to experience that too oh gosh there's no greater feeling than finishing a marathon I really do want to impress you but I might die Mike so I don't know if that's in the future you don't want me to die do you no I don't think you will I don't think you will trust me if you can do the half you can double it up okay I'll consider it I'll consider it you can find Michael Duarte on Twitter at Michael J Duarte he is not only an award-winning journalist but he's our LA guy for NBC LA covers Lakers now but also football baseball hockey everything else going on and he's one of our faves we appreciate your time I hope now you get a chance to sleep but you you seem kind of wired though man yeah after that game a little bit but yeah finally we can uh somebody call Fred again because we're turning out the lights on on basketball and we'll we'll focus now to the other sports starting tomorrow all right well then we will talk to you again soon thanks Michael thanks Amy have a good show ah hammock check Arnold Palmer check motorized solar shades yes please get your home and patio spring ready with brand new custom window coverings from is the easiest way to upgrade your home with custom window treatments you can even stay in the hammock while handles the install just click installation at checkout and relax while we do the work for you no matter how many window treatments you order installation is always one low cost need help choosing talk to a design expert for free to help you make the best selection from classic shutters to outdoor roller shades and more with over 25 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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-23 08:13:46 / 2023-05-23 08:22:47 / 9

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