Kenneth Faried led all scorers with 29 points while Danilo Gallinari set a season high in three pointers made hitting 7 of 14 from deep while finishing with 27 points as the Denver Nuggets defeated the crestfallen Lakers of Los Angeles 119-101.
Denver raced out to a 27-13 lead in the first quarter, but once their shots started falling, the team stopped playing defense and allowed for a 28-10 Lakers run that had the Nuggets trailing by 4 in the second quarter. Denver's bench only scored 8 points in the first three quarters and allowed the best stretches of LA offense in the first and fourth quarters, but Denver's starting played so well, especially in the third quarter, that it made no difference.
After a halftime ceremony honoring Nuggets great, Fat Lever, Denver played inspired defense causing 6 turnovers while holding the Lakers to 17 points while scoring 35 points in a quarter for the second time tonight. Great defense lead to great offense and the game was out of hand heading into the final period.
That didn't mean the fourth quarter wasn't worth watching. Rookie Gary Harris flashed what is to come from the young Spartan, shooting 4-6 including an authoritative slam over Robert Sacre. Will Barton shot too many jumpers off the dribble, but his hustle on the fast break - both offensively and defensively - lead to highlight jams and an impressive block.
Any night when Gallo is setting the nets on fire is a great night to be watching Nuggets basketball. When you add an on-target Randy Foye and an aggressive Manimal, the combination is deadly for any opponent. Melvin Hunt coached his players up at halftime while Byron Scott (or the Laker front office) coached their team down. We should all expect to see the same style and effort come the fall of 2015 when the games matter once again.