The Los Angeles Lakers remained winless to start the 2022-23 season as they lost to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, 110-99.
Austin Reaves drew the start in place of Russell Westbrook and contributed immediately with five quick points, even making a rare 3-pointer. Anthony Davis was aggressive looking for his shot early, particularly around the paint though the Lakers found themselves trailing 13-11.
Lonnie Walker IV was a spark offensively, finishing a tough drive at the rim and knocking down his first three of the night to hand Los Angeles a brief one-point lead. Kendrick Nunn’s season-long offensive woes continued as he failed to get much to go down, and the Lakers went into the second down 26-22.
LeBron James finally scored his first basket of the night off a pretty jumper early in the second, but Bruce Brown heated up from behind the arc to push Denver’s lead to nine. The Nuggets eventually cooled off from the field, and James took advantage with an emphatic dunk in transition to cut the deficit to three.
Nikola Jokic returned to the game and went to work in the paint, scoring consecutive baskets and dampening the Laker run. Los Angeles responded by going directly at Denver’s interior defense and a James-to-Davis lob on the final possession of the half tied things up at 54-54.
Davis opened up the second half with a tough jumper over Jokic, but the Nuggets answered with a 7-0 run to reclaim the lead. Denver executed well offensively to up their lead to eight, while things got worse for Los Angeles as Davis grabbed at his back after going for a rebound. The big man managed to remain in the game, but they soon fell behind by double digits.
The Laker defense started to crumble as the Nuggets got nearly any shot they wanted, running the score up to 81-65. James returned to finish out the quarter and hit a tough layup, but L.A. went into the fourth looking at an 86-71 deficit.
With the Lakers trailing big, James was much more intent on scoring the basketball and a Matt Ryan 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run. However, Denver roared back on both ends of the floor to retake the momentum and a 15-point lead.
Los Angeles was unable to mount any sort of comeback late in the quarter, and with the game out of hand head coach Darvin Ham waived the white flag and emptied his bench.
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