After suffering an embarrassing 118-78 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers looked to break their two-game losing streak at home against the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers will look to try to get their rhythm on offense back with Kobe Bryant returning to the starting lineup after sitting out last game due to a sore shoulder.
Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are trying to break a two-game losing streak of their own, after losing to New Orleans 130-125 at home. With both teams desperate for a win, this is sure to be a competitive showdown in Denver.
The Lakers struck first by scoring on four of their first five possessions, highlighted by a couple of Larry Nance buckets on dimes from Lou Williams to take a quick 8-3 lead. The Nuggets then gained some momentum of their own with a 11-2 run led by Will Barton’s nine points in two minutes. Kobe quickly put an end to the run with and-one three-pointer to extend the lead to 17-13 midway through the quarter. Denver then mounted yet another 10-0 run led by Barton’s and-one to take back a 23-17 lead. Kobe answered back once again with back-to-back jumpers to cut the Nugget lead to four. Barton continued his stellar start to the game, finishing the quarter with 18 points and the 34-26 lead.
Barton remained hot heading into the second with back-to-back scores to extend the lead, 38-28. The Lakers started the quarter ice cold, with their fist score coming from a D’Angelo Russell three-pointer with seven minutes left in the quarter. Russell then found Clarkson on a the drive for the bucket to cut the lead, 35-45. After a slow start to the second, the sides began to trade buckets with Denver able to manage an 11-point lead with five minutes to go. However, it wasn’t long before the Nuggets began to take over, going on a 8-0 tear to extend the lead, 59-43. The Lakers were finally able to put an end to the drought, but still found themselves down at halftime, 64-51.
Larry Nance got the Lakers going with a thunderous dunk on Joffrey Lauvergne, coming on a dish from Sweet Lou. After a three from Kostas Papanikolao, Kobe answered back with a three of his own to bring the lead to 67-56. Following a Gary Harris three-pointer, Los Angeles answered back yet again with a three from Sweet Lou and a jumper from Clarkson to cut the lead to nine with eight minutes to go. The Lakers started to get their rhythm going as they caught fire with a 12-0 run, as they found themselves down just 70-68. The Lakers really got it going after a Brandon Bass block led to a behind-the-back dime from Kobe to Sweet Lou for the three to cut the Denver lead to one. The purple and gold managed to keep the momentum with an 8-2 run to end the quarter with an 83-80 lead.
The Lakers came out with some fire to begin the fourth with a steal that led to a put-back layup by Julius Randle. After a couple of Denver buckets, the Lakers answered back with leaning jumper from Lou, followed by a three from Russell to recapture a 90-88 lead with eight minuted left in the game. The Black Mamba was in superior form as he continued to pick on Barton’s defense with a turnaround jumper for his 22 points and the three-point lead. With the Nuggets defense on their heels, Sweet Lou and the Black Mamba were able to draw back-to-back fouls from the three-point line to extend the lead 101-95 with four minutes left in play. Both teams continued to battle back and forth, with Gary Harris showing out with dunk and a three to to cut the Laker lead to three. With the game down to the wire, the Black Mamba put the game on his shoulders with a pair of free-throws, followed by a clutch jumper to put the purple and gold ahead, 107-100. Clutch rebounding and lockdown defense in the final minutes gave the Lakers a 111-107 victory.