The Lakers (0-3) have started their 2015-2016 season poorly, however due to the infancy of the season the Lakers have not yet ran out of hope. Tuesday evening in Los Angeles the Staples Center hosted fans full of this same hope.
The Lakers may already be showing some progress beginning with Julius Randle. Randle had his come out party in loss against the Dallas Mavericks. He ended the game scoring 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds and was one of the few positive notes on Sunday. Eyes will also be on the matchup between the top two point guards of this last draft class as D’Angelo Russell will square off with Emmanuel Mudiay.
More importantly the Lakers are in need of a win, and in order to do so all players must play at a higher level from Russell to Kobe Bryant. With their last home game before beginning a five game road trip the Lakers have a real chance against a Nuggets team devoid of many of its key players.
Julius Randle started the first quarter strong with back-to-back baskets plowing through the Nuggets’ defense. Kobe followed up with his first attempt and really ignited the crowd swishing his first 3-point attempt. The Lakers offensive rhythm had given the team momentum that pushed them ahead by six with the score at 20-14 Lakers lead. Since the game had slowed down a bit Lakers had rotated Brandon Bass and Lou Williams in the game. Julius and Jordan had continued there strong play holding the lead for the Lakers. Although working well keeping up their energy on defense high the Lakers still had allowed the Nuggets to score in the paint at will. Jordan Clarkson was the only starter left in the game and continued his strong play leading all scorers to end the first quarter with 14 points as the Lakers led 36-30.
The Lakers hot play cooled in the second quarter as they were unable to score a basket for the first three minutes of the game and allowed the Nuggets to steal the lead at 37-36. Part of this was also due to the hot shooting of Mike Miller who once entered the game hit all his 3 point attempts. As the Lakers brought the starting unit back slowly starting with Julius Randle then following with D’Angelo Russell and Kobe Bryant the Lakers were able close the gap and eventually reclaim the lead at 44-43. With the second quarter close to over the Julius Randle seemed to have been poked in the eye by his defender stepped quickly to the bench to later be escorted to the Lakers Locker room to be assessed by Laker trainer Gary Vitti. The game continued but did so at a very slow pace and it seemed neither team could manufacture a basket out of their offense but only scored from the free throw line. The Nuggets wound up attempting 27 free throws in the half and went to the locker room ahead 60-57.
The third quarter started with Randle back in the game and sporting a pair of goggles. The Lakers got back to the intensity they had begun the game with and reclaimed a lead with offensive spark. The lead switched several times and finally the Lakers seemed to be responding to their opponents strong play, however the Nuggets were able to string a few stops together in a 15-2 run gaining their largest lead of the game to 81-74. Looking to recapture a lead the Lakers continued to play their hot hands in Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. Clarkson was getting what he wanted within a high screen and roll set and Randle was in a battle with Faried, however the Lakers lost their defensive footing and allowed the Nuggets to build onto their lead. With the offense more stagnant than ever, the Lakers ended the third quarter in their largest deficit 93-83.
The Lakers turned the ball over on their first possession and failed in transition on their next, but Young was fouled on a three and hit all three free throws to trim the Lakers deficit to seven. Williams was also fouled on a three-pointer, but made only two to bring the Lakers within five. Faried got an easy dunk out of a timeout, but the Nuggets again fouled Williams on a three as LA got within four. A huge dunk from Barton and a jumper from Arthur erased all of the work the Lakers had done as Denver again led by 10. More free throws and a layup from Lou cut the deficit to six. Somehow Lou was again fouled on a three and made it a one possession game, but Gallinari answered with a three-point play of his own to keep it a six-point game. An easy dunk for Hickson put Denver ahead eight with only four minutes left. The Lakers cut the deficit to six a couple of times, but were unable to get stops when they needed to. A three-point play from Gallinari gave Denver an 11 point lead and effectively ended the game. Clarkson would tie his career high with 30 points, but the Lakers would drop their fourth straight, 120-109.