Prior to Opening Night, Austin Reaves had said that the Los Angeles Lakers were looking forward to facing the Denver Nuggets after all the comments that had been made since the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, the Nuggets were ready for the challenge and showed why they are the defending NBA Champions.
The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 117-105 in a game in which they led the majority of the way. The Lakers fought hard all night long, cutting an 18-point first half deficit down to as little as three points in the fourth quarter, but were unable to get over that hump and take the lead.
Every time the Lakers cut the Denver lead down, the Nuggets responded with a run of their own and afterwards, Reaves simply tipped his hat to them for playing a good game, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“They played a good game. There’s obviously a lot of things that we need to work on offensively and defensively, but we had some good stuff tonight as well. So we’ll go back and watch film and get better from it. But tip your hat, they played a good game, they made shots when they needed to make shots.”
As was the case in the Western Conference Finals, it was Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray leading the charge for the Nuggets. The pair’s two-man game might be the most unguardable in the NBA and Reaves admitted the challenge that comes with trying to slow them down, and believes the Lakers have some things they need to clean up defensively:
“I mean anytime you have Jokic and Murray, they’re going to be hard to guard. Two very versatile, unselfish basketball players, but we just need to clean up a couple things on the weak side, be able to scramble a little bit better, get to shooters, run them off the line. But tip your hat.”
The Lakers did have their moments and after a rough first quarter limited the Nuggets to 29 and 24 points in the second and third quarters, respectively. There were some good things that the Lakers did, but they obviously have some improving to do in order to reach the level Denver is at.
Austin Reaves motivated by doubters who say he didn’t deserve new contract
Reaves came into this season with some viewing him as potentially the Lakers’ third star. But many still look at him as overrated and undeserving of his new four-year contract and that is exactly what is motivating the Lakers guard.
Reaves said that any time an athlete gets a new contract they are expected to live up to it. He added that he is getting fuel from all those people who don’t feel he’s worth what the Lakers paid him and he’ll have the opportunity to prove all of them wrong this season.
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