The Lakers returned to Ontario to do battle with the Denver Nuggets in their third preseason game. Both Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar sat out the game as well as Ryan Kelly and Kobe Bryant, both of whom have yet to make their season debuts.
Bryant was on the bench tonight for the first time and even threw on his Laker warmups for the first time, but this game was all about developing the chemistry and seeing what each of these new players could bring to the team.
The Lakers began the game with some good ball movement, particularly from the big men. Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol showed their ability to work together and Kaman would hit Gasol with a beautiful pass for an easy layup. Nick Young got into the action as well as he would deliver a beautiful assist to Jordan Hill. The Lakers did struggle on the glass, particularly on the defensive side as they routinely failed to box out, allowing the more athletic Nuggets to get rebounds they shouldn’t have. A Steve Blake three pointer to end the quarter would give the Lakers a 19-11 lead.
The Lakers began the second quarter with a bang as they went on a 14-3 run to jump out to a 33-14 lead. Shawne Williams showed off his stretch 4 capabilities as he knocked down a couple of jumpers and even Jordan Hill would get in to the act knocking down a 20-footer. The Lakers excellent passing continued as Chris Kaman was the recipient on a couple of beautiful assists from Pau Gasol and Nick Young. The Lakers continued to struggle on the glass, however, as nobody seemed interested in blocking out, leading to 14 offensive rebounds for the Nuggets. The Lakers pushed the lead to as much as 21 points and would lead 48-31 at halftime thanks to a balanced scoring output that saw every Laker who played in the first half record a point.
The Lakers continued their exquisite passing as Steve Nash delivered some beautiful assists to start the quarter, including a gorgeous no-look behind the shoulder pass to Chris Kaman. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Nuggets finally started knocking down some shots and were able to get out in transition to quickly cut the Laker lead to 11. Nash, Kaman, and Gasol continued to show excellent chemistry in moving the ball around and getting everyone open shots. The Lakers rebounding troubles continued as they struggled to keep the Nuggets off the offensive glass, but they would maintain a double-digit lead and lead 71-59 at the end of the quarter, being led by Kaman and Gasol who combined for 26 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists through three quarters.
The Lakers would get off to a relatively slow start offensively as they struggled to get things going and had some silly turnovers. Shawne Williams continued his solid play, showing some great energy defensively as well as versatility on offense. Defensively the Lakers never let up as Jordan Hill did an admirable job in keeping Kenneth Faried off the offensive glass early. As the Lakers went deeper into their bench, the defense began to struggle as the explosive Nate Robinson began to heat up and the Nuggets would cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the first quarter. The Lakers continued the sloppy turnovers allowing the Nuggets to creep back in the game. Though Xavier Henry could not match his previous preseason scoring exploits, he continued to show an aggressiveness in attacking the rim. A late run allowed the Nuggets to take their first lead of the game on a dunk by J.J. Hickson. The teams would trade the lead multiple times in the last minute before some late free throws by Robert Sacre and Steve Blake iced the game for a Lakers 90-88 victory.