With the Nuggets having lost their last six games, tonight's contest looked like a winnable one for the Lakers, but ultimately rapping head coach Brian Shaw was able to read enough books about connecting with millennials to rally his team to a victory.
The Lakers began the first quarter with a 7-0 run, with Ryan Kelly's three pointer in semi-transition forcing a Denver timeout. Neither team played much defense, and Wayne Ellington scored 11 quick points for Los Angeles. Jordan Clarkson scored 5 points to go with 4 assists in the first period because the Nugget's scouting report evidently did not include a warning about the rookie's floater.
Los Angeles led by as 12 points in the second quarter, but a 13-4 run by the Nuggets to close the half cut the deficit to 48-45 in an especially ugly 24 minutes of basketball. The Lakers shot just 40.8% in the half, but hustled their way to an 11-3 offensive rebound advantage against a noticeably disinterested Denver squad.
Denver outplayed the Lakers in the third quarter, generating numerous turnovers and fast break opportunities to leave the two teams tied at 71 points heading into the fourth and final frame.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair, featuring 4 point plays from Nick Young, Ty Lawson domination, and blatant Carlos Boozer push offs. Ultimately Denver was able to ride Lawson's domination (32 points on 20 shots with 16 assists and 3 steals) to a a close win.
The dolphin-phobic Young continued to struggle for most of the game (12 points on 4-13 shooting) but briefly took over down the stretch to almost shoot the Lakers into a win. Clarkson (7 points on 11 shots with 7 assists) showed some progress with his decision making on offense, but had a rough shooting night. Jeremy Lin (7 points and 4 assists) coughed up 5 turnovers while still recovering from an illness. Wayne Ellington (18 points on 13 shots) continued to, ahem, make it Wayne as his nice season continued.
The Lakers next play tomorrow in Portland, and will look to bounce back against the Western Conference powerhouse Trail Blazers.