2024 Western Conference First Round Preview: Reviewing Lakers-Nuggets Regular Season Matchups
Nikola Jokic, D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Lakers, Nuggets
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets are facing off in their second consecutive Western Conference playoff series. The two teams meet in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs as the No. 2 seed (Nuggets) and the No. 7 seed (Lakers) after their Western Conference Finals matchup last season when Denver swept L.A.

But this is a new season, and while the Lakers are absolutely going to have their work cut out for them to win a seven-game series, the Nuggets are also not taking L.A. lightly. The Lakers went 23-10 from Feb. 1 through the end of the regular season, moving up to the No. 8 seed and taking care of business on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans in the Play-In Tournament to earn the No. 7 seed.

The Lakers and Nuggets faced off three times in the regular season this year, with Denver extending their win streak and securing victories in all three meetings. They have won their last eight straight against the Lakers. In fact, two of the Lakers’ 10 losses since Feb. 1 are against the Nuggets. Here, let’s take a look at all three regular season meetings.

October 24 @ Denver: Nuggets 119, Lakers 107

L.A. kicked off the 2023-24 regular season in Denver for an instant Western Conference Finals rematch. Implementing a few new players — Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood and Cam Reddish — into the lineup while dealing with an injury to Jarred Vanderbilt meant the Lakers were at a bit of a disadvantage coming in against a well-solidified Nuggets rotation.

It was a dismal first quarter for L.A., but they fought back only for the Nuggets to pull away in the final minutes and secure a 12-point victory. The Lakers trailed by four points with 8:49 left on the clock, but the Nuggets finished the game on a 25-17 stretch.

Nikola Jokic led the way for Denver, scoring 29 points to go along with 13 rebounds and 11 assists. LeBron James was the Lakers’ leading scorer with 21 points.

February 8 @ Los Angeles: Nuggets 114, Lakers 106

In the first game after the NBA trade deadline — when the Lakers decided to stand pat instead of making any of their rumored potential deals — the Nuggets were in town. And while the Lakers were without D’Angelo Russell, Vincent, Vanderbilt and Reddish, they still had enough to play tough with the Nuggets, who were without Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Unsurprisingly, this game followed a similar script to the opener. The Nuggets got out to an early lead — up by 10 at halftime — only for the Lakers to climb back in and make things interesting for a moment. L.A. and Denver were back and forth the entire fourth quarter, and Austin Reaves even tied the game with a three with 2:18 to go.

But a 10-2 run by Denver ended the game in the eight-point win. Jamal Murray finished with 29 points and 11 assists while Jokic had 27 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. Anthony Davis had 32 for the Lakers.

March 2 @ Los Angeles: Nuggets 124, Lakers 114

By the time the Lakers got to their final matchup of the season against the Nuggets, they had solidified their starting lineup of James, Davis, Russell, Reaves and Rui Hachimura. And the results showed when, unlike the first two games, the Lakers got out to the early lead. In fact, the Lakers led by as many as 11 in the first half and took an eight-point lead into the break.

But the Nuggets quickly erased the deficit in the third and it once again came down to the wire. The Lakers led by two with 3:50 remaining in the game, but lost by 10 courtesy of a 16-4 run by the Nuggets.

Jokic had 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while James led the Lakers with 26 points.

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