The Los Angeles Lakers came close to upsetting the playoff hopeful Denver Nuggets on the road on Friday, but made mistakes in crunch time that ultimately led to a gutting 126-116 loss. The Lakers stuck around up until the last few minutes of the game, but couldn’t compete with the Nuggets’ star power down the stretch.
Paul Millsap had his first big game since returning from injury, putting up 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, including a big 3-pointer in the clutch. Nikola Jokic also had himself a game, ending with 21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals for Denver.
The Lakers’ big men didn’t do too bad themselves either. Brook Lopez was huge for Los Angeles, putting up 29 points on 3-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. His parter in crime, Julius Randle, also did his usual work, bullying his way 18 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
In a league where big men are considered a novelty, these two teams relied heavily on their size up front, proving once and for all that size does matter.
There was a ton of positives on the Lakers end tonight, including their shooting from behind the arc (40 percent on 35 attempts) and their work on the offensive glass (12 offensive rebounds). But again, their late-game turnovers spoiled any real progress they made.
Hopefully this is just the sign of a young, inexperienced team and not a sign of things to come.
The Lakers will have the day off before heading back home to take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. For reasons beyond the basketball court, they better show up ready to play.