After a four-game road trip that didn’t produce a single victory, the Los Angeles Lakers returned home looking to get back on track. Standing in their way was a team struggling just as much in the Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers have continued to get solid production from their new backcourt of Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington. Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis have also keyed the impressive bench play, but the team has struggled to get consistent post play since Jordan Hill went down with injury.
The Nuggets are led by the young, energetic duo of Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried, but like the Lakers, they have also lost 13 of their last 14 games. For one of these teams, Tuesday marked the first night to turn things around.
Wayne Ellington hit a nice mid-range jumper to get the scoring started for the Lakers. Robert Sacre hit a nice jump hook and Ryan Kelly hit a three as the Lakers got off to a quick 7-0 start. Jusuf Nurkic got the Nuggets started with a couple of baskets and Clarkson followed with a nice drive to keep the Lakers ahead by five. Ellington kept up his hot start with a three and a transition layup after a block from Tarik Black to give the Lakers a 16-6 lead. Darrell Arthur subbed in and immediately hit a jumper and Wilson Chandler got an easy layup to cut the Laker lead to six. The Lakers came back with a Clarkson three and a jumper from Boozer to push back ahead by nine. J.J. Hickson had an impressive three-point play and the teams traded a few baskets as both benches sparked the offense. Nick Young hit a jumper and Foye knocked one down on the other end as the Lakers ended the quarter ahead 29-24.
Arthur scored two consecutive baskets to start the second quarter as the Nuggets quickly cut the lead to a point. A jumper from Foye gave the Nuggets their first lead of the night. Jeremy Lin made a nice drive to put the Lakers back in front. Free throws from Wesley Johnson and a dunk from Ed Davis put the Lakers up five and forced a Nuggets timeout. Lin hit another jumper and more free throws from Johnson gave the Lakers a double-digit lead. The offenses stalled slightly as the Lakers maintained a 10 point lead. Ellington subbed back in and picked up where he left off with a nice jumper, but the Lakers gave up an easy layup to Lawson on the other end. The Nuggets went on a quick five-point spurt to cut the gap in half, but Boozer had a jump hook to keep them at bay. Javale McGee made an appearance and had three quick points. Ed Davis had a tip-in, but Chandler hit a three as the Nuggets ended the half on a 13-4 run. The Lakers led at halftime 48-45.
Wilson Chandler hit a jumper to start the third, but Wayne Ellington remained on fire, hitting a mid-range jumper and a three to put the Lakers up six. Afflalo hit a jumper, but Ryan Kelly kept the Lakers offense going at the free throw line. Clarkson hit Black for a transition slam as the Lakers gave themselves some breathing room with an eight point lead. Lawson got going after a timeout with back-to-back baskets for the Nuggets. He would add a transition layup after a Nurkic block to cut the Lakers lead to two. More free throws and a jumper made it 10 straight points from Lawson and gave Denver a two-point lead. The Lakers offense continued to struggle, but free throws from Boozer tied the game at 63. Gallinari came right back with a driving layup to put Denver back ahead by a basket. A three-point play from Boozer cut the lead to one, but Lawson hit a jumper and a beautiful lob pass to Hickson that gave Denver their biggest lead of the night at 71-66. Nick Young hit a jumper and a pair of free throws to tie the game at 71 to end the quarter.
Boozer hit Davis for a dunk, but the Lakers fell apart on defense, giving up an easy dunk to Hickson. Lawson and Hickson had a couple of free throws, but Nick Young hit a three to put the Lakers back ahead. Lawson would hit Hickson for a layup and Foye in transition to give the Nuggets a three-point lead before Boozer responded with a layup. Arthur came right back with a jumper to keep the Nuggets with a three-point cushion. Free throws form Arthur put Denver up five but a free throw from Boozer cut it to four. Arthur continued his solid game with a floater and a free throw. Lin would hit Johnson and Boozer for layups, but Foye would hit a three and Lawson had another layup to keep the Nuggets ahead by eight. Lawson free throws gave Denver a 10-point lead, but Clarkson hit Boozer for a layup and Young hit a three to cut the Nuggets lead in half with five minutes remaining. The teams traded baskets before a sloppy possession ended in a Wesley Johnson short jumper that made it a one possession game as the Lakers trailed by three. Johnson hit a tough fadeaway to cut the lead to one, but Young missed a fadeaway that would’ve given the Lakers the lead. Lawson responded a jumper, but Boozer blew by his defender to keep the Lakers within one. Lawson kept it going with another jumper and Johnson airballed on the next possession. Arthur hit a mid-range jumper to give the Nuggets a five point lead with under a minute remaining. Lin threw a terrible pass that was picked off by Lawson for an easy layup that effectively iced the game. Lin missed a layup and Lawson hit one more three just for good measure as the Nuggets won 106-96.
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