The Los Angeles Lakers battled back from a double-digit deficit and took a lead into the fourth quarter but were undone by turnovers in a 125-116 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Nuggets, who are fighting to remain alive in the Western Conference playoff race.
While the Lakers blew yet another lead in the fourth quarter, they had it down to a one-possession game multiple times within the final minutes of the game. Ball missed a go-ahead 3-pointer and after that had a layup attempt blocked, which kept the Nuggets’ lead at five points.
Although Ball came up empty late, his play in the third helped put the Lakers in position to earn a road victory. He finished the night with 15 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Ball orchestrated an offense that was led by Brook Lopez for a second time in as many games.
Lopez continued with his work in the paint, scoring a game-high 29 points on 10-for-18 shooting.
Lopez at times still found himself behind the arc, where he was 3-of-7. Coming off a performance in which he failed to grab a rebound, Lopez had five to go along with two blocked shots.
His play matched that, if not exceeded what Nikola Jokic gave the Nuggets. That’s not to suggest the versatile big man was ineffective, as Jokic had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. It was part of a balance Denver attack that saw six players score in double-figures.
One of them was Jamal Murray, who had a team-high 22 points and exchanged words with Lakers head coach Luke Walton and Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter after appearing to shout in Ball’s direction.
Julius Randle rebounded from being under the weather to help the Lakers keep pace with the Nuggets throughout much of the game. He had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists but again didn’t play down the stretch of the game.
The Lakers made 14 3-pointers, compared to the Nuggets’ 15, but the greater story was the disparity at the free throw line. Denver went 26-for-30, while L.A. made 12 of their 16 attempts. Additionally, the Nuggets scored 30 points off 16 Lakers turnovers.