After seeing their 10-game win streak evaporate against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers got back on track with a sketchy win over the Denver Nuggets. Led by a pair of stellar performances from Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers were able to gauge the Nuggets’ elite defense to the tune of 60 first-half points.
Though they got off to a strong start early, the Lakers fell apart in the third quarter and squandered a double-digit halftime lead. However, they would survive the Nuggets’ hot third-quarter and seemingly had an answer for any run the Nuggets threw their way. Eventually pulling away in the fourth quarter, these Lakers have shown time and time again that they don’t fold under pressure and do an excellent job of battling through adversity.
With the win, the Lakers move their record back into a tie for the league’s best with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers will look to further improve on their 18-3 mark tomorrow night in a back-to-back against the Utah Jazz.
Lakers vs. Nuggets Score/Result
Lakers Win, 105-96
The Good from the Lakers’ Win Over the Nuggets
Not only did Davis provide the Lakers with a steadying presence on the offensive end but he played a major role in helping shut down an extremely potent Nuggets frontcourt. Nikola Jokic posted just 13 points and just five rebounds. Though he didn’t post his usual eye-popping block and steal numbers, Davis routinely forced the Nuggets out of the paint and made life generally uncomfortable for one of the league’s most dynamic offenses.
Davis finished the night with a team-high 25 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, and one block.
Not to be outdone by Davis’ stellar night, LeBron chipped in another huge performance of his own. Functioning as the de facto quarterback of the Laker offense once again, LeBron led the Lakers with nine assists and six rebounds to go with an efficient 25 point outing. The two-man game of Davis and James proved to be extremely valuable for the Lakers on a night where their outside shot wasn’t falling all to well.
Routinely finding his way inside and punishing the Nuggets in the paint, James had his way offensively. Though he did lead the team in turnovers again, he seems to be considerably more comfortable in his point guard role and his turnover numbers have been trending downwards throughout the season.
Every single bench player finished with a positive rating on the night and every single player had a relatively efficient night from the field. Combining to go 15-26 (including 4-7 from deep), the Laker bench was able to provide an effective scoring punch and helped keep the Lakers afloat against a well-rounded and deep Nuggets squad.
The Bad from the Lakers’ Win Over the Nuggets
Starting Guard Play
While the bench backcourt of Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, and Troy Daniels all produced, the starting pair of Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope struggled. Combining to go just 4-17 from the field including a paltry 1-10 from downtown, neither was able to offer much of a reliable threat when James and Davis saw help defenders.
Caldwell-Pope and Green set the tone for what would be an overall rough night shooting the deep ball for the Lakers. Outside of Rajon Rondo and Troy Daniels, the rest of the team combined to knock down just three three-pointers. Finishing with a collective mark of 29%, the Lakers seem to have hit a bit of a rough patch as they shot just 26% in their last game against the Mavericks.
The Ugly from the Lakers’ Win Over the Nuggets
Free Throw Shooting
Especially against elite playoff-caliber teams like the Nuggets, the Lakers need to take whatever points they can get. While they haven’t been the best free-throw shooting team this season (23rd in FT%), they need to be better than the 65% they put up tonight. Going 20 of 30 from the line, the Lakers left 10 points on the board and their inability to take advantage of their free throw attempts played a large part in why the game was so much closer than it should have been.