The Denver Nuggets came out firing and this time there was no letdown as they took care of business against the woeful Los Angeles Lakers, 134-126. Kenneth Faried had 32 points and 13 rebounds while Ty Lawson had 30 points and 17 assists to lead the way as the Nuggets' starters carried the team.
In a game where defense was optional at best, the Nuggets got off to another fast start with 42 first quarter points. The Lakers' defense was simply awful as the Nuggets basically got whatever they want. Lawson hit two three's on consecutive possessions after Lakers turnovers to push the lead to 10, but the Nuggets showed cracks on defense and allowed the Lakers 35 points of their own.
The fast pace continued into the second quarter, with the Nuggets holding a comfortable lead throughout. By halftime, the Nuggets had scored a season-best 77 points. Lawson led the way with 20 points and eight assists. Faried and Wilson Chandler went 7-7 and 6-6 respectively as the Nuggets shot a blistering 63 percent in the first half. They were also an uncanny 9-13 from three-point range. Perhaps more incredibly, the starters combined to score 70 of the 77 first-half points. Granted, the Lakers scored 66 points of their own as the Nuggets had defensive issues on their end as well.
The teams traded hoops in the third until a massive and-1 dunk from Chandler seemed to ignite the Nuggets. After a long alley-oop from Randy Foye to Faried, the lead sat at 23. The Nuggets pulled an impressive feat by securing tacos for the hometown fans before the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately, Denver got somewhat sloppy in the fourth and allowed the Lakers to hang around the 10-point margin, forcing head coach Brian Shaw to leave the starters in a little longer than he wanted to. Lawson especially looked worn-out by the end of the game, as he played a team-high 41 minutes.
Still, even though the Nuggets couldn't blow the Lakers out, you never really got the feeling this game was in jeopardy. Whenever the Nuggets needed a bucket to stem a run, they got it. The dominant offensive performance led to the Nuggets first ever season sweep of the hated Lakers. I know the Lakers are having a down season, but I'll take it anyway I can get it. Now the Nuggets will embark on their last long road trip of the season, where they'll hope to keep the winning vibes alive.
Game Observations -
- Faried played one of the best all-around games of his career. He scored a career-high 32 points and had a double-double with 13 rebounds, and he also had two nifty assists to Timofey Mozgov.
- All five Nuggets starters scored in double figures, and had 106 of the 134 total points for the team. This was the first game of the season where they had two players score 30+ points.
- Lawson was dominant again, knocking down shots and setting guys up for easy buckets. It's amazing how much better the Nuggets look when he is on the floor.
- Foye only made four baskets, but they were all three-pointers.
- The Nuggets bench was not very strong tonight, although Evan Fournier contributed some quality minutes. Darrell Arthur had a rough game, going 0-4 from the field. He was -16 in the nine minutes he played.
- Pau Gasol led the way for the Lakers with 27 points, but both Jordan Farmar and Ryan Kelly had 24 off the bench. Kelly messed around and got a double-double with 11 rebounds also.
- The Lakers apparently had some internal discussions regarding the state of the team after the Clippers game last night. Clearly it didn't help very much. For what it's worth, the Lakers have used 29 different starting lineups in the league this season, most in the league.