The atmosphere for the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night was electric. Following the antics of Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray in the last two meetings, the Staples Center crowd booed Murray relentlessly every time he touched the ball.
The tension was there between the players as well. Murray and Isaiah Thomas had a little dustup early in the game, while Julius Randle and Nikola Jokic had to be separated in the last minute after getting tangled up, leading to Randle pushing Jokic to the ground.
This seems to have all the makings of a budding rivalry between two promising young teams, but Thomas doesn’t believe it is at that level just yet. “Nah. I’ve been a part of rivalries,” he said. “This definitely is not a rivalry, but it’s exciting games to be a part of.”
Leading into the contest there was a lot of talk about possible retaliation from the Lakers after Murray’s actions last Friday. There was a hard foul late on Murray by Randle, but nothing ever really got out of hand.
“We talked about just treating it as another game, knowing that that guy does what he does. But we’re not too worried about him,” Thomas said after the win.
“We’re worried about ourselves and winning the game. I think we did a great job of that tonight and not trying to focus on doing everything we can to stop him and worry about he does. We were worrying about what the Lakers were doing. We played an overall good game.”
Thomas was a big part of the victory, finishing with 23 points and knocking down a number of big shots in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers returning to being a competitive team has led to some intense games not only with the Nuggets, but also with teams like the Philadelphia 76ers. They may not quite be rivalries yet, but it could only be a matter of time.
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