LOS ANGELES— The Denver Nuggets entered Staples Center to take on the Lakers on Tuesday as on target offensively as a team could be.
The scoring train just kept right on rumbling against Los Angeles, but the Denver’s defensive struggles continued as well, turning what was shaping up to be a blowout into a down-to-the-wire contest.
Denver held off a spirited comeback from the Lakers and hung on for a 127-121 victory.
All five starters finished in double figures for the Nuggets (17-23), who have scored at least 125 in their past three games, winning all three and matching their longest winning streak of the season.
“I think the way we have been playing is fun,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “People feel involved. They are part of it and it is definitely contagious.”
Nikola Jokic led all scorers with 29 points, including 15 in the third quarter, falling just short of matching his season-high 30-point effort vs. Orlando on Monday.
“I was in the right spot and they found me,” Jokic said. “I’m glad we got the win.”
Will Barton scored 26 and had eight assists and Kenneth Faried scored 20 with seven rebounds. The Nuggets were ahead by 17 heading into the fourth quarter before the Lakers came charging back. A 3-pointer from Jordan Clarkson got the Lakers within a point with 1:40 remaining.
Wilson Chandler came back with a basket to put Denver ahead 122-119. Denver led 124-120 with 29.3 left when Ivac Zubac fouled Chandler. Chandler made one of two free throws and the Lakers were forced to commit fouls the rest of the way.
Denver scored 40 in the first quarter, making it appeared as though they could hit the 140-point mark for the second time in three games.
But the Nuggets cooled off a bit in the second, allowing a 14-point lead dwindle to three at 45-42 with 6:44 remaining. Will Barton came off the bench, making a layup and 3-pointer to put the Nuggets back up by double digits, 54-44, with 4:42 remaining.
A dunk and a pair of free throws from Emmanuel Mudiay in the closing seconds of the half put Denver ahead 66-54 at the break.
Jokic’s 15-point third quarter, which included a three-pointer and then 12 points in an approximate two-minute helped the Nuggets to a 17-point lead heading into the fourth.
The Lakers scored 37 in the final frame.
BOX SCORE: Nuggets 127, Lakers 121
“Give them credit,” Malone said of the comeback try. “They have all the momentum and the crowd but we had enough poise down the stretch to make enough plays to guarantee the win.”
The Nuggets have won seven in a row on the Lakers’ home court, a streak that dates back to Nov. 30, 2012, when Los Angeles came away with a 122-103 victory.
Since starting the season at 10-10 start, the Lakers (15-31) have dropped 21 of their past 26 contests, including five in a row. But Lakers coach Luke Walton took solace in his team’s fourth-quarter run, not to mention the possibility of turning things around going forward.
“We found our passion, our fight and our togetherness, playing for each other,” Walton said.
The Lakers also rank 26th among the league’s 30 teams on points allowed at 110.2 per contest.
The Nuggets were without shooting guard Gary Harris, who sprained his right ankle against the Magic. An X-ray was negative for a break or fracture.
Source: Lou Ponsi | denverpost.com | January 18, 2017