The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night still searching for their first win of the season.
L.A. got some hot shooting for a change and as a result, hung on to beat Denver 121-110 to improve their record to 1-5, getting the monkey off their back.
The Lakers welcomed Anthony Davis back to the lineup after he missed Friday night’s game with a back injury. He got L.A. on the board by going at Nikola Jokic for a layup and then two free throws on the next possession, ending a 6-0 run by Michael Porter Jr. to begin the game.
Davis was the Lakers’ only source of offense early, scoring the team’s first seven points with LeBron James and others missing some easy layups. Meanwhile, Jokic got going on the other end of the floor to give his team an early double-digit lead at 25-15.
In his second game coming off the bench, Russell Westbrook brought immediate energy to his team once again by knocking down a corner 3. Kendrick Nunn also got in on the action with a 3 of his own, giving Davis some help on the offensive end as the big man continued to be the main source of offense with 11 first-quarter points.
James finally got on the scoreboard with a dunk to beat the first-quarter buzzer, cutting the Lakers’ deficit to 31-26.
The Lakers were much better offensively to begin the second with Lonnie Walker IV and Patrick Beverley both knocking down open 3s to give L.A. its first lead.
Their defense settled in from there while Westbrook continued to do a nice job of controlling the pace. As a result, the Lakers actually went into the locker room with a lead at 55-51.
James came out in attack mode in the third quarter, getting to the basket and scoring the Lakers’ first seven points of the quarter.
Outside of James though the Lakers really struggled offensively, allowing Denver to regain the lead. The visitors caught fire from 3 with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aaron Gordon both making circus shots to extend their lead.
Needing an answer, Westbrook and Walker finally connected from deep to keep L.A. within striking distance. Walker caught absolute fire from three, making a trio of jumpers to actually give the Lakers a 93-85 lead through three quarters. That matched the biggest lead the Lakers have held all season thanks to an 18-2 run to close the quarter.
The Lakers’ hot streak continued into the fourth quarter with Matt Ryan drilling his second 3 to extend the lead to double digits. Denver answered with an 8-0 run though, forcing Darvin Ham to call timeout.
Needing some buckets, the Lakers’ stars came through when they needed it as Davis hit a midrange jumper and then James hit a 3-pointer to get the lead back up to nine.
Reaves then hit a very long 3 of his own to extend the lead to a comfortable double digits. Jokic went on a personal 6-0 run but that was as close as the Nuggets would get as James, Davis and Westbrook closed out the first win of the season.
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