The Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game losing streak with a 120-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night at Staples Center. D’Angelo Russell, who missed three games due to injury, made his presence felt, posting 22 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds.
The Lakers entered the game without starting power forward Julius Randle, who had pneumonia. Coach Luke Walton decided to use Tarik Black together with his usual starting lineup. The Lakers quickly established an 8-0 run to start the game. Nick Young scored the first four points while Russell and Black had a bucket apiece.
The Nuggets finally answered with a jump shot from Gary Harris. Both teams started exchanging shots and ended the first quarter tied at 30. Lakers’ rookie Ivica Zubac showed his dominance in the second quarter with a huge slam. They continued being aggressive on the offensive end but the Nuggets managed to fire back.
Kenneth Faried’s strong presence under the basket helped the Nuggets grab a five-point lead at the end of the first half. They continued the dominance in the second half and stretched the lead to eight. However, the Lakers managed to bounce back and immediately erased the lead. The Lakers outscored the Nuggets in the third quarter, 27-17, resulting in a five-point lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Nuggets took back the lead and forced coach Luke Walton to call a timeout. Lou Williams, who led the Lakers in their successful comeback, tied the game to 103 with less than five minutes remaining in the game. Nick Young knocked down a three-pointer, enabling the Lakers to regain the lead.
The Nuggets remained hopeful to win the game and never let the Lakers stretch the gap. Unfortunately, D’Angelo Russell was able to hit every free throw whenever he was sent to the line. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets, 120-116, and ended their three-game skid.
Coach Luke Walton happy to see unselfish plays and good defense
Before the game, Walton advised the Lakers to keep the ball moving. However, he emphasized the passes should be converted into points. The return of D’Angelo Russell greatly helped the Lakers on the offensive end as he posted 10 assists.
“Take some time to reflect,” Walton said. “Think about individually and as a team when we are good and unselfish and talking on defense and what that looked like. The start of the fourth quarter, or the end of the first quarter when the ball got stagnant and we stopped playing defense altogether, how it’s different. Be mindful of what it feels like when we’re playing basketball one way versus another.”
Aside from Russell, Lakers starting shooting guard Nick Young also established an impressive performance, scoring a team-high 23 points. Lou Williams led the second unit with 21 points, seven assists, and five rebounds while Ivica Zubac posted a career-high 17 points.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons
Video courtesy: Youtube/Ximo Pierto Final