Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Nuggets – Game 28

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (12-16) | Denver Nuggets (17-11)

 

Despite not having AD for the entirety of the second half, the Lake Show rallied to defeat the Denver Nuggets 126-108.

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Ashley Landis/AP

Lakers forward Juan Toscano-Anderson was still out with a right ankle sprain, as was Wenyen Gabriel with a left shoulder sprain. However, Gabriel is close to returning, per the Lakers.

The Lakers rolled out their usual starters vs. Denver with Dennis Schroder, Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis.

Schroder got the game started by bursting right to get a nice finish at the rim. This was a sign of good things to come as the Lake Show found themselves up 16-13 with 7:20 remaining in the first, as Beverley stepped through the lane to score a bucket surprisingly, and Bruce Brown was unbelievably left untouched as he soared to the rim in response.

It was still too early to tell who was controlling the game early. Denver was ahead in the free throw battle as they were 5-6, while LA hadn’t shot any yet, but other than that, it was neck and neck.

Russell Westbrook checked in at the 6:10 mark, grabbed an offensive board, got it back to Bron, and the king scored inside. However, on the next possession, Westbrook stepped out of bounds. Classic.

Our defensive player of the year candidate, AD, somehow allowed Nikola Jokic to score easily over him in the post. Davis came right back to deliver the favor as he scored right back but came down hobbling as it looked like he may have tweaked his right ankle, but he stayed in the game and fought through it.

We need Davis, and he must know this. No disrespect to Thomas Bryant or James, but neither of them is suited to guard Jokic or any premium big man in this league. Thankfully, Davis continued to battle as he finished a dunk off a Westbrook assist.

The Lake Show fell off a bit and lost the lead after Bones Hyland completed a three-point play and took the lead for Denver at 28-27 with less than two minutes left in the first.

Bryant must’ve foreseen this recap as he ferociously threw down a dunk in transition, but a Westbrook turnover led to an inside score for an old DeAndre Jordan.

At the end of the first quarter, the Lakers were ahead 33-32. Both teams were shooting over 50% and already had 18+ points in the paint. Rookie Max Christie earned some minutes, as he had seemed to leapfrog Kendrick Nunn in the rotation, thankfully

To begin the second, Westbrook nailed a deep mid-range jumper off the glass. Then, Bryant drilled a three and looked very comfortable doing so, something we need to see more from him to validate the front office’s decision not to trade for another viable big.

Beverley then made a three, which was another pleasant surprise as that may improve his trade stock. The Lake Show then pushed their lead to nine after the king stepped up to drain a three as well. The only worry for the Laker nation was holding on to that lead.

Jordan must’ve also read this recap in the future as he shook off the “old” allegations with a reverse dunk off a lob from Brown to cut the Laker lead to five. Jeff Green drilled a spot up three in the corner in transition, and it was just a two-point game. That nine-point lead was very short-lived.

Denver took the lead off a score inside from Aaron Gordon, capping off a 10-0 run. At this point, it must be a prophecy that the Lake Show just blows comfortable leads so quickly. Then, of course, Denver took a nine-point lead of their own.

Reaves became our savior, as he scored ten straight points for the Lakers amidst a run that James capped off with a layup to tie the game at 62. So, LA went up nine, then down nine, and it’s now tied again. That’s the premium Lake Show experience for you. 

 

At halftime, the score read Nuggets 65, Lakers 64. James had 16 points, including his signature dunk that briefly gave LA the lead near the end of the half. Davis had 10 points and four rebounds. Reaves had 11 points after scoring 10 straight late in the second quarter.

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Ashley Landis/AP

Bryant started the second half in place of Davis. AD was yet to return to the Lakers’ bench from the locker room. It was eventually revealed that he’d be ruled out for the night with a right foot injury.

The second half returned to the prophecy as the Nuggets came out locked in to spark a 9-2 run that was highlighted by a baseline dunk from Jamal Murray off an assist from Jokic. After Denver extended their lead to 12, the Lake Show brought it back to single digits with a three from Schroder and a dunk from the king.

Without AD, this game was predictably only going to get more challenging; however, the Lakers were still in it, only down 83-77 with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, another injury was on tap for the Lake Show, as Schroder seemed to land on a Denver defender’s foot as he was coming down off a jumper. The play was ruled a flagrant foul one on Davon Reed. One of the ESPN announcers and Nuggets’ coach Mike Malone argued against it, but you’ve got to give the shooter space to land. As someone who’s been in Schroder’s shoes, it’s a terrible feeling.

A flash of good fortune for the Lakers as Schroder stayed in the game and scored in transition as he must’ve been working off of pure adrenaline, Westbrook tied the game after accelerating to the rim on the fast break, and James took the lead as he went straight at Jokic for the layup.

To end the third quarter, the Lakers closed on a 20-5 run, which was capped off with a wide-open three in the corner by Schroder. The Lake Show now led 93-88.

Beverley began the fourth quarter with a three in the same spot that Schroder hit his. Then, finally, Murray had enough and scored a step-back three over James. It was the only bucket Denver scored for the last 4:30 of the game. All the while, the Lake Show outscored them within that time with 15.

Christie finally had his first field goal with a three and doubled down to score another three. Darvin Ham gave him that confidence, saying he could shoot it, and the rookie proved him correct. The Lake Show now had their biggest lead of the game at 104-93 with 8:22 remaining.

Their lead inflated to 15 after Westbrook threw a lob to Bryant for the flashy finish on the fast break, which also got him a triple-double on the night. James kept pouring it on as he came off the screen, wrapped around, and sank a sweet jumper from the mid-range. James was then the oldest player with 30 points in three straight games since 2002, after scoring in transition.

Even with 3:30 remaining, the Lakers’ 18-point lead was too much. Murray seemed to suffer a stinger, and Malone took that as a sign to pull the starters. Ham read the room and promptly subbed the king out as well. So this one was over, and the final score read Lakers 126, Nuggets 108.

Key Takeaways

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Ashley Landis/AP

The Lakers improved to 12-16. The most important thing from this game will be an update on AD’s right foot injury. The king had 30 points and nine rebounds. With his two-steal performance, James passed Hakeem Olajuwon for 9th place on the NBA’s all-time steals list. Next up is #8 Clyde Drexler – 2,207, 9. James – 2,163 via Lakers PR.

Russ had a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. He’s the first Laker in franchise history with multiple triple-doubles off the bench. Bryant had 21 points on 9-11 from the field and six rebounds. Reaves had 16 points. Somehow, Walker IV was a team-worst -14, and Beverley was -11. James and Reaves were a team-best +26.

Jokic finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. Murray had 23 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Gordon put up 17 points.

Ham told reporters after the game that AD would be evaluated later and they’ll know more about his injury.

 

The Lakers will stay at home to take on the Washington Wizards. They’ll face off Sunday, December 18th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Crypto.com Arena. The game will be available on NBA League Pass, NBC Sports Washington, and Spectrum SportsNet.

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– Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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