The Los Angeles Lakers were back on the court following the disheartening loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. With plenty of heat on Mike D’Antoni for Thursday’s uninspiring performance, the Lakers faced the unenviable task of trying to get a win on the Denver Nuggets homecourt in the second game of a back-to-back situation.
Pau Gasol again got off to a quick start, scoring the first four points for the Lakers. He would later add a steal and pushed it ahead to Jodie Meeks who blew the easy layup. The Nuggets would capitalize on Meeks’ missed layup and other Laker miscues to extend their lead. A Kent Bazemore 3-pointer was quickly followed by dunks from Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov. Ty Lawson made back-to-back three pointers to give the Nuggets a nine-point lead. Shortly after, Gasol made his way to the locker room to be re-tapped after tweaking his left ankle. Prior to leaving the game, Gasol scored 11 points. Xavier Henry provided some firepower off the bench with six points on 3-of-4 from the field. The Lakers scored an impressive 35 points in the opening quarter, but gave up 42 to the Nuggets, which set their season-high.
The Lakers applied early defensive pressure, which led to a Jordan Farmar fast-break layup that cut the Nuggets lead to five. Forced into action with Gasol nursing a sore ankle, Robert Sacre gave the Lakers a physical presence on both ends of the court. First, Sacre recorded a block and he followed that up by grabbing an offensive rebound that the big man then converted to points. After the teams exchanged empty possessions, Jordan Farmar drove to the basket to get a layup and drew a foul for the three-point play. Both the Lakers and Nuggets then exchanged 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions. Gasol would return and didn’t show any signs of being affected by the ankle he turned. Team defense and rebounding continued to be an issue for the Lakers and the result was 13-3 run by the Nuggets midway through the quarter to extend their lead to 10 points. The Lakers ended the quarter trailing by 11 and the 77 points the Nuggets scored in the first half were a season-high. Ty Lawson scored 20 points through the first two quarters on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting.
Bazemore got the Lakers off on the right foot in the second half with a blocked shot and he then hit Meeks in the corner for a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to eight. The Nuggets answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Lawson and Randy Foye. Faried threw a lob to Mozgov to give the Nuggets a 15-point lead, which was the most they led by up to that point. Four points from Gasol had the Lakers back to within 11, but the Nuggets continued to score at will to maintain their lead. The Nuggets pushed the ball up the court off a poor shot attempt from MarShon Brooks and Foye threw a lob from halfcourt to Faried, who threw it down to give the Nuggets a 23-point lead. For the second consecutive game, a Laker opponent surpassed 100 points before the fourth quarter. Led by Farmar who was up to 22, the Lakers bench combined for 50 points, but the Nuggets still held a 110-91 lead going into the fourth.
With 30 points and 12 assists, Lawson started the fourth quarter on the floor and he helped the Nuggets offense maintain its efficiency. Ryan Kelly hit a 3-point to cut the Lakers deficit to 15. On the following possession, Kelly then forced a steal and gave the ball to Henry who found Meeks for a dunk. The sequence was part of a 9-2 Lakers run that cut the Nuggets lead to 13 points with just under nine minutes remaining. Kelly single-handedly attempted to keep the Lakers in the game, but the defense allowed too many easy baskets and the Lakers never seriously threatened as the Nuggets won, 134-126.