Video Credit: NBA

New FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Nuggets- Game 82

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (33-49) | Denver Nuggets (48-34)


Two dominant offensive performances from Malik Monk and Austin Reaves led to the Lakers’ 146-141 win over the Nuggets in the season finale.


Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Malik Monk and Austin Reaves got their showcase night started on a 7-3 run to open the scoring for Los Angeles Talen Horton-Tucker added two buckets to give the Lakers an 8-point lead, but Bryn Forbes hit three early threes for Denver to keep them from pulling away more.  Forbes would have it tied with a layup, carrying the Denver offense in the first for 11 points.

Reaves would lead an 8-1 run following the tie, getting the Lakers off to a great start and back in front.  With the Lakers up 4 nearing the end of the quarter, Facundo Campazzo brought it to a one-score game with a three.  THT would counter quickly by scoring two more times in the final possessions, keeping the Lakers ahead going into the second.

Jeff Green kept it close for Denver to start the second with two inside buckets. Back-to-back threes from Wayne Ellington kept L.A. in favor on the other side.  Denver would then keep it within one before Markus Howard put them back in the lead with two from the line.  It led to six lead changes as the game remained close for both sides, most notably Malik Monk hitting two go-ahead threes in the quarter despite relentless offense from the Nugget prospects.

After Monk had the Lakers ahead with a three with less than a minute left in the half, Bones Hyland hit a three to knot it back up before the break.  The game was tied at 69 not only because of both sides’ great offense, but the Lakers’ defense kept allowing the Nuggets easy transition points after scoring.  Both teams looked to slow it down in the second half to maintain a lead finally.

Reaves and Monk combined for 27 points in the first half, already on their way to showing Laker Nation precisely the kind of firepower they possess. They were looked at as role players all season; it was only fair that they went off in the final game to prove what role they could handle, possibly in the future.  Without the former MVP in, Nikola Jokic, on the court for Denver, things were looking up for the Lakers.

The Lakers and Nuggets were the definition of back and forth in the first half, with the game tied 69-69 by the break.


Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu/AP

Wayne Ellington would hit another three to start the third quarter before Denver began to pull away for a sequence.  Demarcus Cousins would lead a 12-2 run to give the Nuggets the lead with authority, connecting twice from behind the arc.  Monk ended the run to bring it back to single digits, but in response, Denver kept at it with a completed 4-point play by Forbes.

For the first time this season for any team, two completed 4-point plays occurred on back-to-back possessions. Bones Hyland was the 2nd Nugget to do it, absolutely stunning the Laker defense in the third.  After an offensive explosion of 39 points in the third for Denver, they would be ahead by 13 going into the fourth quarter.  Monk and Reaves both reached 20 points in the quarter, with Reaves claiming a triple-double before the fourth.  They were down in the position they dreaded to be in all year but were nowhere near ready to give up.

The Nuggets pulled ahead by 15 to start the final quarter before the Lakers began to wake up.  Two straight threes from Malik Monk, followed shortly by a third, seemed to spark the offense back in place. He turned it into a 10-2 run, bringing it back within five and reaching 40 points for the first time in his career. He was 7-11 from deep until this point, a big statement from one of the more reliable players seen in a Lakers uniform this season.

The Nuggets brought it back to a 10-point lead with 3 minutes to play, but Los Angeles was entirely determined on ending this season with a morale win.  Down 9 with 2 minutes to play, Mac McClung came off the Laker bench to complete a 4-point play of his own and have it within 5 with a minute left.  Austin Reaves then woke up to hit a three to bring it to a one-score game, force the turnover on the next possession, and ultimately tied it right before the buzzer. After the insane sequence, Denver had a chance to get one last shot up; as it missed, we had overtime action in the final game.

There were no scores in the first two minutes of OT before Reaves exchanged buckets with Forbes to keep it interesting.  Reaves then led a clutch 11-4 run in the final minutes, taking over the game and securing the win for Laker Nation.  A ridiculous stat line of 31-16-10 helped support Monk’s 41 points, defining the two players as offensive threats.  The game and season were over but played out as the best possible farewell game to the fans.

Just as the final second’s hit the clock, ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out, “Frank Vogel has coached his final game for the Lakers, a decision that’s expected to be shared with him as soon as Monday, sources tell ESPN. Lakers’ search expected to be lengthy and expansive with no clear initial frontrunner.” Woj followed that tweet with another, saying, “Vogel led the Lakers to the 2020 NBA Championship and assuredly will be a candidate again in the league’s future head coaching cycles.”

Lastly, we at Franchise Sports Media want to thank all those who tuned into the Lakers with us this season.  It may not have gone down as we would have hoped, but the support we get from this city is why we do it.  We look forward to bringing more Lakers action next season for you guys. As one chapter ends, a new one rises from the many possibilities.  Thank you, Las Vegas, Laker Nation, and all Laker fans wherever you may be!

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Duncan Dye – Franchise Sports Media

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