Recap: LeBron James & Russell Westbrook Step Up In Anthony Davis’ Absence To Lead Lakers Past Nuggets
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

After a tough loss to the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers looked to get back on track on Friday night when they hosted the Denver Nuggets.

It was the third matchup between these two teams with one side winning each. It was the Lakers who took the upper hand on the season series, winning 126-108 to improve to 12-16. What made the win extra impressive was that L.A. did it in the second half without Anthony Davis, who left with a foot injury.

Dennis Schroder got off to a hot start for the Lakers with five early points, including a rare 3-pointer. The Nuggets were hot from deep early though as Nikola Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each hit one to tie the game at nine.

It was a fun battle early between the two All-Star centers as Davis and Jokic were going at each other on both ends. They had 10 first-quarter points each and the Lakers led 33-32 at the end of the period.

The Lakers went on a nice little run to begin the second quarter with LeBron James, Patrick Beverley and Thomas Bryant each nailing 3s to extend the lead to nine, forcing a Nuggets timeout.

As has been the case a lot this season though, the Lakers let their foot off the game and the Nuggets responded with a 10-0 run to take the lead back. That run continued due to a few silly turnovers by Russell Westbrook and the next thing the Lakers knew, they were the ones trailing by nine in need of a timeout.

Austin Reaves had a nice response, scoring 10 straight points for the Lakers and getting MVP chants at the free-throw line from the home crowd. That started a nice run to close the half for the Lakers and they went into the locker room trailing by just one at 65-64.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, they were forced to play without Davis in the second half due to an ankle issue. That allowed Jokic to be more aggressive, leading the Nuggets on another run to take their first double-digit lead.

It was a game of runs though as the Lakers again fought back with Thomas Bryant contributing in Davis’ absence. Ham also went to James at center to close the quarter, opening up the paint a little bit. After Dennis Schroder beat the buzzer with a corner 3, the Lakers went into the final period with a 93-88 lead.

Beverley made another 3 to begin the fourth quarter to extend the lead, putting him in double figures in scoring for the first time as a Laker. Rookie Max Christie also made the most of his opportunity and drilled back-to-back triples to give L.A. its first double-digit lead at 104-93.

The Lakers’ lead only grew from there as Westbrook seemingly took over the game, scoring and also finding guys like James and Bryant for easy buckets. Westbrook finished with a triple-double, playing one of his best halves as a Laker.

James finished it off with some slick midrange jumpers and a layup, putting it out of reach with about four minutes to go.

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