The Los Angeles Lakers had more rhythm on offense than they’d shown through much of the NBA restart and Kyle Kuzma delivered a go-ahead 3-pointer in a 124-121 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his first game of the year as the Lakers erred on the side of caution after his ankle was stepped on in their last game. That thrust Kuzma into the starting lineup, and he took advantage of the opportunity.
Anthony Davis and Michael Porter Jr. went back and forth early in the first quarter as Denver opened up a three-point lead. Kyle Kuzma committed to physical defense on Porter Jr. after two quick long balls, and the Nuggets rookie took advantage with a back-door cut to score his eighth point.
Dion Waiters provided a spark off the bench for the Lakers who tied the game after consecutive threes from Kuzma and Waiters. L.A. went on an 8-2 run, and Kuzma threw a highlight lob to Davis at the end of the first quarter.
The Nuggets got out to a quick start in the second quarter with a 10-0 run behind Bol Bol’s playmaking ability. The teams were deadlocked for much of the quarter until LeBron James scored nine points in a row.
James nailed a 3-pointer before notching an and-1 and concluded his onslaught with another three. Davis soared in for a putback dunk as time expired for the half, and the Lakers walked into the third quarter with a five-point lead.
The Lakers continued to showcase their improved shooting ability to open the second half. James drilled a third 3-pointers before assisting on two more from Danny Green and Kuzma. The 17-year veteran did it all for the team in the third quarter, swatting a Paul Milsap layup hard enough to blow out an electronic advertisement on the sideline.
Davis was noticeably less involved in the offense during the second half but still continued to make an impact on defense. At the end of the quarter, Kuzma stole two passes that led to transition points, one of which resulted in an emphatic dunk.
The Nuggets re-took the lead early in the fourth quarter when Bol converted on a full-court pass to an open Mason Plumlee. Denver maintained a small lead for much of the final 12 minutes as both teams endlessly fired from long range.
While James and Davis played normal minutes, as Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said would be the case, the Nuggets benched their stars to close the game.
James drove and found an open Green for his second 3-pointer with four minutes left, cutting the lead to two. Both teams played subpar defense down the stretch and shots dropped on for each side.
James’ driving layup for a three-point play with 45 seconds remaining gave the Lakers a lead, and after the Nuggets pulled even with four seconds, Kuzma drained his 3-pointer.
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