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Comments by Anthony Davis, Darvin Ham point to growing frustration among Lakers

Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks
Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks

There has been simmering frustration around the Lakers' ranks all season. They see themselves as contenders, the team that made the Western Conference Finals last season and won the In-Season Tournament. The reality is that for a second straight year, they had to come out of the play-in just to make the playoffs.

Two hard-fought losses to Denver — the second one in a game the Lakers led by 20 and lost on a dramatic last-second Jamal Murray fadeaway — have brought that frustration to a low boil. You could hear it in Anthony Davis' postgame comment after the Lakers went down 0-2 to the defending champions (and see it in his body language.

"We have stretches where we don't know what we're doing on both ends of the floor," Davis said on the podium.

He added that it was not about the coaching staff, but who else was he throwing under the bus? That reads like blaming the coach.

Ham responded that he would agree to disagree with Davis via Jovan Buha at The Athletic.

"I mean, I just think sometimes the plays don't turn out the way you think they should (and) the frustration sets in a little bit," Ham told reporters. "But I don't think this was (about) not being organized. I think I have incredible knowledge and focus all along my staff. We pride ourselves — whether it's practice, shootarounds, film sessions, games, everything — we pride ourselves on being highly efficient and organized.

"So I just chalk that up to being frustrated. It's an emotional game, with the way it ended and all of that. But I would agree to disagree on that one.”

The frustration is real.

There have been rumblings of frustration in the locker room all season, with some players said to be disillusioned by Ham's strategies and "just play harder" answers. Lakers fans have been anything but subtle about their frustrations with Ham's coaching and rotations all season (doing things like playing Spencer Dinwiddie in Game 2, for example). To be fair, injuries and the way the roster was built tied Ham's hands at points.

Denver's coach, Michael Malone, won the Game 2 coaching matchup when, in the third quarter, he put Aaron Gordon on Davis and moved Nikola Jokic to Rui Hachimura — the Lakers didn't have a great counter for that. LeBron kept calling up Hachimura to set screens (or whoever Jokic was guarding), but that took the Lakers out of their rhythm. Denver took advantage.

If the Nuggets come into Crypto.com Arena and take Game 3 Thursday night, expect that low boil of frustration to grow into a roiling boil.

Does that mean Ham could be the fall guy for this season if Denver bounces the Lakers in the first round, particularly if it is a sweep or a five-game series? Some reporting says no, Ham likely will be back. The reality is likely more complex and will partly depend on what LeBron and Davis want — if the stars want their coach back, he will be. It sounds like Davis may not be as fond of the idea of running it back, but whether that will be enough to see a coaching change is another question (does Jeanie Buss want to pay two coaches, Ham is under contract for a reported $8 million next season?).

Either way, the frustration around the Lakers is there. Losing will do that to a team.