Lakers Falter Late in Denver
A Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer caught nothing but net, putting the Lakers up by three with six minutes left. But the offense stalled from there.
In a case of deja vu, the Lakers’ offense fell apart in Denver — much like it did three months ago — as the Nuggets charged ahead for a 125-116 win.
“You give 30 points away from turnovers on the road against a playoff-caliber team, that’s gonna be tough to win,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of his team’s 16 giveaways.
After Caldwell-Pope’s triple put the Lakers (29-36) up 110-107, the Nuggets struck back by scoring the game’s next nine points.
For a second, it appeared that Brook Lopez would be able to rescue the Lakers.
After dropping 27 points on Orlando two days prior, Lopez was once again a beast in the post. He hit three 3-pointers on the night, but did most of his work on the block, scoring 29 points on a 12-of-18 clip.
Brook Lopez finishes with a game-high 29 points, his second straight game with 27+ points pic.twitter.com/aUS1oyzbk2— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 10, 2018
After the Nuggets (36-30) made their late rally, Lopez provided consecutive buckets on a put-back dunk and mid-range pull-up. But Denver then closed out with a 9-2 run.
“The past two games he’s kind of looked like the Brook from Brooklyn, getting in that paint, posting up,” Kyle Kuzma said. “When he does that, he’s one of the best back-to-the-basket bigs in the league.”
Lopez’s big night was complemented by an all-around performance by Lonzo Ball, who filled the stat sheet with 15 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals.
Ball was efficient inside the arc, shooting 6-of-8 on two-pointers (but just 1-of-8 on 3’s) and made several stellar plays as an off-ball defender.
“He is a special basketball player,” Walton said. “The things he does, his anticipation, just the way he can get other people shots, some of those tip-ins. We need to get that type of play throughout more of the game, which he normally does.”
In such a high-scoring game, Lonzo Ball has taken the opportunity to showcase his defensive instincts. pic.twitter.com/Ltr04VGiCF— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) March 10, 2018
Ball and Walton took exception to some trash talk by Jamal Murray, who had ended a game against the Lakers in December by dribbling around Ball in a taunting fashion.
Walton called Murray’s antics “disrespectful,” while Ball described his December action as a “punk move.”
The Lakers and Nuggets will have their next rematch on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“I can’t wait,” Ball said. “We’re ready to go.”
Julius Randle (18 points) and Caldwell-Pope (17 points, nine rebounds, five 3-pointers) had solid nights. … Denver had a 26-12 advantage in made free throws, including 10-0 in the fourth quarter. … The Nuggets were led by Murray (22 points, eight assists), Nikola Jokic (21 points, six assists) and Paul Millsap (21 points). … A crowd of 19,807 sold out Pepsi Center.