The shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers saw their five-game winning streak snapped by the Denver Nuggets as they lost 122-109.
Max Christie got the start in place of LeBron James and got involved offensively early by draining a 3-pointer and finding Thomas Bryant along the baseline for an easy bucket. Juan Toscano-Anderson gave the Lakers a brief lead with layup, but the Nuggets found themselves on top shortly after thanks to Nikola Jokic.
Los Angeles began to pile up on turnovers which led to an 13-2 Denver run fueled by Jokic, who did just about everything on the floor. The bench unit managed to go on a quick 7-0 run, but the Nuggets responded with a run of their own to leave the Lakers trailing 29-23.
Los Angeles was more aggressive in attacking the basket to begin the second, with Wenyen Gabriel getting open for several shots at the rim to narrow the deficit to three. However, Jamal Murray gave the momentum back to Denver with a personal 5-0 run that made it a 45-36 game.
The run for the Nuggets continued as the Lakers failed to get much going offensively, while Michael Porter Jr. and Murray torched them on the other end. Christie was able to get a couple of jumpers to go near the end of the quarter, but L.A. went into the half down 62-48.
Kendrick Nunn started in place of Patrick Beverley in the second half as the latter was ruled out for the rest of the game due to a hip injury. The defense finally picked up a bit as they strung together stops and a transition layup from Toscano-Anderson made it single-digits.
Russell Westbrook’s energy off the bench helped lift Los Angeles on both ends of the floor, and his scoring and playmaking kept them well within striking distance. Despite Westbrook’s efforts, the Nuggets offense was re-ignited by Bruce Brown and the Lakers would go into the final frame trailing 94-79.
It was a poor start to the fourth on both ends for the Lakers who found themselves down 20 just a couple minutes into the period. Much like the first half, L.A. eventually capitalized on a dry spell from the Denver bench and started to climb out of the large hole they dug themselves in.
Despite some momentum, it all went away as soon as the Nuggets re-inserted their starters, particularly Murray. The Lakers were unable to make a meaningful run in the closing moments and they would return home with a loss.
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