The Los Angeles Lakers took on the Denver Nuggets in the season finale on Sunday night in a game that saw both teams missing key players.
Although the Lakers got career-nights from both Austin Reaves and Malik Monk, it looked for a while like it would result in a loss. A miraculous fourth-quarter comeback sent the game into overtime though, where the Lakers took over to earn a 146-139 victory and end the season with a 33-49 record.
Reaves did a little bit of everything coming out of the gates, grabbing boards and finding Talen Horton-Tucker down the end of the floor for a layup. Reaves’ activity on the boards helped create extra shots, but he also showed his playmaking chops with a sweet dime to Wenyen Gabriel for a dunk.
Gabriel was his usual self on both ends, and his activity around the rim helped the Lakers maintain a slim 26-22 advantage. Stanley Johnson and Horton-Tucker used their strength and physicality to bully their way to the rim, allowing Los Angeles to go up 36-33 after one.
Mac McClung made his Lakers debut and immediately contributed with a steal that led to a Malik Monk lob in transition. Wayne Ellington appeared shaken up after taking a shove in the back from Facundo Campazzo, but fortunately was able to remain in the game and knock down a pair of free throws to keep L.A. up one.
The Nuggets briefly took the lead after a pair of DeMarcus Cousins free throws, but Monk answered with a three to put the Lakers back up 59-57. Reaves hit Monk for a highlight-reel lob out of a time out, and even after following it up with a 3-pointer, the two teams found themselves tied 69-69 at halftime.
Horton-Tucker was ruled out for the remainder of the game after suffering a sprained left ankle.
Ellington got the start in place of Horton-Tucker in the second half, but the Nuggets forced the Lakers into a quick timeout after going on a 12-5 run. Monk threw down another impressive dunk, but still trailed 85-78 as they struggled to get stops.
The game began to slip away a bit from the Purple and Gold as they gave up another four-point play, putting them down 13. Mason Jones finally got on the board with drives to the rim, but Los Angeles went into the final period down 108-95.
Monk kicked the fourth off with yet another high-flying dunk, and a 3-pointer narrowed the Nugget lead down to 11. Monk continued to pour it on, nailing another two triples to force a Denver timeout.
Reaves recorded his first career triple-double after finding Monk for a three, while the latter kept firing from the field.
Despite the game being meaningless, the Lakers led by Reaves fought until the very end. Reaves hit a big three with 16 seconds left, and then after a steal, he went coast-to-coast for a game-tying layup to send it to overtime.
The Lakers, led by Reaves, then took the game over in overtime to complete the comeback victory.
Reaves finished his career night with a 28-point, 15-rebound, 10-assists triple-double while Monk set a new career-high with 41 points.
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