There have always been talks about championship teams being able to “flip the switch” during games and take things to another level. And that is exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers did in their Western Conference Finals rematch with the Denver Nuggets.
Down 12 at halftime, the Lakers outscored Denver 68-35 over the next two quarters to run away with a 114-93 victory. The win is the Lakers’ third straight, sixth in their last eight games and improved their record to 17-6.
LeBron James again led the way with his second triple-double of the season, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Anthony Davis struggled as the Nuggets focused their defensive efforts on him to ensure he didn’t beat them.
Davis scored just 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting, but did add nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
The game changed in the third quarter after the Lakers came out completely lethargic in the first half. They outscored the Nuggets 37-17 in the quarter, ended it on a 15-0 run and then kept the momentum going in the fourth to put them away.
And for as good as LeBron was, the Lakers’ role players made the difference. Dennis Schroder was excellent with 21 points on just nine shots and his diving effort on a loose ball in the second quarter was one of the plays of the game.
Kyle Kuzma also had another excellent performance with 11 points, three assists, two steals and two blocks as he continues to make an impact without having to score the ball.
Talen Horton-Tucker added a season-high 17 points to go along with three steals, and Montrezl Harrell finished with 13 points in what was truly a team effort.
Though the Lakers struggled mightily on the glass for most of the night, along with their ongoing free throw issues (14-22 for 63.6%), they made up for it elsewhere. L.A. dominated the paint with 66 points while also getting out in transition with 25 fast-break points, most of which came off Denver turnovers.
In the end the Lakers defense was just too much. They held Nuggets star Nikola Jokic to just 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting and the Nuggets shot only 39.1% as a team. Additionally, 93 points was a season-low for the Nuggets and the fourth-lowest total the Lakers have allowed this season.
It was also the third straight game the Lakers held a team below 100 points.
Next up for Lakers
The Lakers have a chance at revenge for their worst loss of the season when they host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night before a two-game set against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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