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In previous seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers have had issues with letting up ahead of the NBA All-Star Break.
Following a couple of blowout wins and with a sizable lead over their Western Conference competitors, all the pieces were there for another letdown. Add in the fact that across from the Lakers stood the second-place Denver Nuggets, hungry to prove they are among the NBA’s elite and Denver has always been one of the toughest places.
However, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were determined not to let that happen.
It was a back-and-forth contest. The Nuggets jumped ahead early, but the Lakers responded by dominating the second quarter, outscoring them by 14 points. Los Angeles pulled ahead by 11 in the third quarter, but Denver immediately responded with an 11-0 run to tie things up and things were nip-and-tuck from that point on.
James missed a fadeaway to win the game, sending it into overtime tied at 111 and Davis dominated from there. He scored seven of the team’s nine points in the extra period while also taking on the challenge of stopping Nikola Jokic, forcing him into a number of uncharacteristic turnovers as the Lakers escaped Denver with a 120-116 win.
James posted his 12th triple-double of the season with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists while Anthony Davis finished with 33 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Both players were locked in and really showed their ability defensively, guarding all different positions and hassling Jokic and Jamal Murray at different points.
The Lakers bench was huge on this night as well with Dwight Howard notching 14 points and 11 rebounds and Alex Caruso adding 10 points, six rebounds, and four assists while finishing with a team-high +23 on the night.
Murray led the Nuggets with 32 points and 10 assists while Jokic finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. However, Jokic’s struggles down the stretch were amplified as Davis took on the challenge when it mattered most and further strengthened his case as the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
With so many other amazing games, this one has somewhat slipped under the radar but in terms of pure excitement and entertainment, this contest against the Nuggets in Denver is at or near the top of the list. More than anything, it showed the Lakers were intent on not coasting at any point during the 2019-20 NBA season.