Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets had to be thrilled to see the All-Star break on the other side of their bout in the Mile High City on Wednesday night. Nikola Jokic led an extremely short-handed Nuggets group against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and an obviously exhausted Lakers squad.
Neither team could’ve been all that thrilled about playing five extra minutes, but it was the Lakers who walked away with a 120-116 win.
Denver got out to a fast start and it appeared they might coast to a solid victory until the second quarter happened. There’s no way to prove there’s any correlation here, but at one point in that first half, Monte Morris hit a three and said something that made James stop in his tracks and even walk back toward the backup point guard.
From that point to the end of the half, the Lakers would go on to outscore Denver 29-10 and go so far as to take a lead into halftime.
Earlier this week, Rajon Rondo played so well that Frank Vogel hardly used Alex Caruso. It appears that door only swings one way, though.
Caruso entering the game was a big factor in momentum swinging and yet he’d only finish with 17 regulation minutes played (in all fairness, he played all of overtime). At some point, team politics have to give way to the team’s best players getting the minutes they deserve.
Caruso would finish with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, but most notably was a game-high +23. Give my large, balding, adult son his due minutes.
Given the situation (between Denver’s injuries and L.A.’s general fatigue), the worst-case scenario heading in if you would’ve asked all the players would probably have been overtime.
Picture a week-long vacation on the other side of that last work day and on your way out the door, your boss calls a last-second meeting. Sometimes, the basketball gods can just be that kind of cruel.
(This is how I feel about writing this recap in all honesty so this is just me lashing out)
Both teams just kind of trudged through overtime and eventually it was a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope steal and a couple Davis free-throws that made the difference.
The Lakers (41-12) gained what could be a critical game in the race for top seed in the Western Conference, and now get to rest for more than a week before resuming action next Friday at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.
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