The Nuggets and Lakers started this game looking like some guys playing at the rec. It was just iso jumper after iso jumper, and initially the Lakers were looking like the better pickup team. Because that’s what this game basically was. Both teams were resting most of their good players and it showed. Bryn Forbes and Jeff Green were the only two Nuggets to make a shot in the first stint before Malone called a timeout. Lakers lead 11-5.
The Nuggets came out of the timeout shooting better. Bryn Forbes buried a couple more 3s, and Boogie added one of his own. Bones hit a midrange jumper, and Jeff Green hit another post fade. However, the team wasn’t trying really at all on defense. They let the Lakers dominate the paint and control what went on in there on both ends. Malone was frustrated and called another timeout. Lakers lead 22-20.
After the timeout we saw Jamychal Green and Davon Reed check in, followed shortly by Facu Campazzo, Zeke Nnaji, and Vlatko Cancar. Names Nuggets fans haven’t seen in quite some time. Facu had a nutmeg about 10 seconds after he checked in, but Jamychal wasn’t able to finish it. The offense was grinding to a halt for a while, but eventually got going after some nice ball movement resulted in a Davon Reed 3. Facu tossed a lob and hit a 3 as well. They still didn’t play defense, but the score was 36-33 with the Lakers leading after 1. It helped that the Lakers didn’t shoot well on the looks they were given by the defense; only shooting 1-7 from 3 in the first quarter. One thing that the Nuggets also struggled with was fouling.
The Enver Nuggets came out struggling on defense again. Jamychal was playing well. He had two physical inside finishes. The Lakers had a hot hand though. Wayne Ellington hit two early 3s that forced Malone into his third timeout of the game just a minute and a half into the game. Lakers lead 42-37. Out of the timeout Vlatko turned it over and it resulted in a Lakers alley oop on the other end. Some buckets were exchanged among some very pickup-esque ball, and the Nuggets were keeping pace with the Lakers. It wasn’t pretty, but it was working…sort of. Zeke Nnaji didn’t look particularly right which is to be expected from someone coming back off a lot of missed time. After that Facu Campazzo made a very dirty play that resulted in his ejection where he shoved Wayne Ellington to the ground. It was ruled a flagrant 2, and that was all she wrote for Facu’s game and likely time with the Nuggets. Wenyen Gabriel also got called for a flagrant for shoving Markus Howard.
After the stoppage of play, Markus Howard knocked down a couple of free throws. Wayne Ellington knocked his down as well. Then Jeff Green made an absurd chase down block. A lot of the time I forget how old he is just because of his athleticism. After that another flagrant was called. This time on Stanley Johnson for shoving Demarcus Cousins. All of these flagrants happened within a two minute window. Boogie knocked both down. Teams continued to brick. Demarcus Cousins drew four fouls in two possessions and knocked 3 of 4 down from the charity stripe; only interrupted by a Malik Monk step back 3.
Early in the game, it was frustrating just seeing a bunch of good looks for Denver rim in and out, but it happened a lot this game. The team realized this and started attacking the pain which paid dividends for the team. Between the free throws and some layups, the Nuggets found themselves up one. Before the Lakers got some free throws as well. You know, there was just a lot of free throwing in this game. Too many free throws! The game was taking forever to get to halftime and all you really need to know is that Boogie had a cool dunk, the Nuggets were getting troubled by a Monk, and this game was drunk. The game was all tied up with a nice score of 69-69.
The quarter started with much of the same from the first half; equal scoring and some bricks sprinkled here and there. However, Demarcus Cousins and Bryn Forbes scored on 3 consecutive possessions to put the Nuggets up 7 just a couple minutes into the game. That brought Demarcus Cousins up to 15 points on just 5 shots with good rebounding too. Bryn was also shooting well with 4 3s and 14 points to his name up until that point in the game. It forced LA into a timeout. Nuggets lead 81-74.
After that point though, all offense came to a screeching halt for both teams for a while. There were only 3 field goals scored within 3 minutes after the timeout. Then after that though, the Nuggets actually put together some decent offense. Jeff Green hit another turnaround jumper, Bryn Forbes had a 4 point play. Then Bones got bizzy and scored a 4 point play and a layup on consecutive possessions. The Nuggets kept getting called for fouls which resulted in the Lakers being able to not fall too far behind, but the Nuggets had created some separation. They were up 12 before a Denver timeout at the 2:36 mark. For the rest of the quarter the score was kept pretty even with it ending on a Davon Reed and-1 putting the Nuggets up 13 going into the final frame. It really is a shame he’s not available in the playoffs.
The first stint of the final frame was illustrated with some nice buckets from Davon Reed and Davon diming Zeke Nnaji up for a dunk. As well as 3 missed 3 pointers from Markus Howard. The Lakers got some free throws and Malik Monk continued to kill the Nuggets’ defense, but they kept pace and didn’t let the Lakers get too much back into the game. Denver called a timeout at the 8:47 mark up 11. 116-105.
Boogie got a putback layup immediately out of the timeout. It was answered with a Wayne Ellington 3 pointer. Davon Reed answered with a side step 3, and man, I really wish Denver had converted him. He would be so useful in the playoffs. That aside the Lakers hit another 3 by the way of Malik Monk. It forced Denver into a timeout, but Monk got two more dunks and forced the Nuggets into using their third timeout of the quarter. The Nuggets’ lead had been cut to just 8.
Out of this timeout though came some breaks for the Nuggets. Markus Howard went on a heater and went on a personal 8-2 run to put the Nuggets back up by 11. It included 2 3s, and put him at 19 points on the night. Austin Reaves was the only Laker to score points during it and, side note, had a triple double tonight. Anywho, the Lakers called a timeout and afterwards got 4 straight free throws off Markus Howard fouls. He tried to make up for it by scoring a layup, but the Nuggets fouled again. This time on Bryn Forbes. The Lakers hit both of the free throws and the lead was cut to 7. Then Markus Howard got fouled on a drive, hit both free throws. Unfortunately gave up a 4 point play to Mac McClung. The Nuggets couldn’t score and then Austin Reaves hit a 3. A 9 point lead cut to 2 in about 40 seconds! The Nuggets took a timeout with 15.5 seconds to go. Out of the timeout, Markus Howard turned it over and Austin Reaves scored a layup in transition off of it. It tied the game up, and a long gamer just got longer. It went to overtime.
Nuggets didn’t score a single point. They scored 4 free throws. Austin Reaves scored 7 points. At one point the Nuggets were up by 17. In the end they lost. Choked away a meaningless game just for kicks. Nuggets lose 146-141 The Nuggets remain the sixth seed and will face Golden State starting Saturday.