Undermanned and on the second end of a back-to-back set, the Los Angeles Lakers managed to upset the Denver Nuggets, 93-89, at home on Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
Despite being without LeBron James and Dennis Schroder, the Lakers were able to take an early 10-4 lead as they were able to force the Nuggets into tough shots and turnovers. Los Angeles exploited Denver’s lack of rim protection with Andre Drummond, but Nikola Jokic answered on the other end to tie the game at 14.
The Nuggets took a 17-16 lead off a Michael Porter Jr. 3-pointer, but Anthony Davis resembled his old self after knocking down a midrange jumper and blocking a dunk attempt. L.A.’s defense was steady, but they would go into the second trailing 24-20.
The bench bigs for both teams opened up the second with plays as JaVale McGee and Montrezl Harrell infused some energy for their respective teams. Defensively, Los Angeles and Denver were able to clog up the paint allowing the latter to stay slightly ahead midway through the period.
Davis returned to the game and picked up where he left off, taking the open jumpers while also making a concerted effort to get all the way to the rim. He looked as aggressive as he has since returning from injury, leading all scorers with 16 first-half points.
The Lakers were able to capitalize on open perimeter looks and as a result they went into the half leading 45-42. Drummond picked up four first-half fouls, which led to Marc Gasol getting a few spot minutes, and he immediately injected some energy into the Lakers with his ball movement to close the half.
Los Angeles struggled to contain Porter as he broke loose for a transition dunk and got his jumper to fall down to give Denver back the lead. Alex Caruso was a spark, doing the dirty work on the defensive end and driving to the hoop for a layup to tie the game again.
With Andre Drummond in foul trouble, Gasol got more minutes off the bench and nailed a three to extend the Laker lead to six. Gasol knocked down another shot from distance and L.A. held a 70-65 lead going into the final quarter.
Wesley Matthews and Gasol were a major boost to the start of the fourth as they ignited an 8-2 run to give Los Angeles a 13-point lead. Jokic took over the scoring for the Nuggets, but the Lakers had an answer each time down.
However, Porter was once again a problem as his scoring whittled down the L.A. lead to single digits. The Nuggets pulled within two in the final minute, but a Talen Horton-Tucker lay up and a Davis block sealed the much-needed win.
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