While most people were watching playoff football, the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers played a spectacular game. The final score was 133-96, Nuggets get a munder. They were led by a triple-double from Nikola Jokic, he put up 17, 12, and 13. Bones Hyland had the most points of any Nugget tonight though, he put up a career-high 27 points and shot 6-7 from three with 9 assists. Jeff Green also put up a season-high 26 points. Tonight was a fantastic game from everyone, the Nuggets made 23 three-pointers as a team. That’s only the 10th time the Nuggets franchise has made more than 20 threes in a game. Davon Reed played some of the best defense I’ve seen all season and is proving his worth more than I ever expected.
LeBron led all Lakers in minutes played, they still needed more from him though. He put up 25, 9, and 2, the next leading scorer was Westbrook with 19. LA just struggled to score in the 2nd half. The Lakers had a lot of fans in attendance tonight, seems like a good time to bring back my favorite Coach Malone quote. “As long as their fans go home disappointed that’s all I care about... Lakers fans can come in here but take that L on the way out”.
The Nuggets opened up with Aaron Gordon defending Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green was guarding Lebron James. The Nuggets gave up easy baskets at the rim early, including just throwing the ball to the Lakers on an inbound as AG was not expecting the pass. The offense was still able to keep the Nuggets afloat though. No one player was shining for Denver early, it was a team effort. Halfway through the first quarter, each starter had at least 2 points but no one had more than 4.
The Nuggets defense was not good early on and Dwight Howard was taking advantage of it, the coaching staff elected to play in a zone to end the 1st as a result. Bones Hyland came into the game fairly early on, he hit 2 threes and had 8 points in the quarter. Bones showed extreme confidence going at LeBron on his first time being guarded by him. Davon Reed closes the quarter off with STELLAR defense on Lebron. It results in LeBron falling over causing a shot clock violation. 34-29 in Denver’s favor after one.
Davon Reed plays more great defense on Lebron, he stole the ball from him twice and hit a three as well as drew a foul on a layup. The Lakers call timeout and you know LeBron had some words for the officials. Bones started to heat up by making 2 threes in a quarter again, one being a deep three. The Nuggets went on a 25-9 run and were up by as many as 18. The whole roster was playing well during the run, Jokic even dunked again.
Westbrook and James decided to attack the rim more towards the end of the 2nd and brought the lead down to 10. The Lakers were doubling Jokic anytime he touched the ball after Howard got into foul trouble. That worked out well for the Nuggets as Jeff Green got a few open dunks as a result. The Nuggets shot 60% from the field and 69% from 3 in the first half as a team. 73-60 after the first half in favor of the Nuggets.
LeBron opens up the 3rd with a drive to the rim after both teams struggled to score coming back from halftime. Aaron Gordon hit a huge 3 to break a near 2-minute scoring drought, Monte Morris followed it up with a layup and the Lakers took a timeout. DeAndre Jordan checks in for Dwight Howard as he got into foul trouble. Monte Morris and Jeff Green both hit back-to-back 3s.
Westbrook then tries to muscle Aaron Gordon, it doesn’t work and then he decides to get in Gordon’s face and causes a skirmish. Both players are rewarded with a technical foul and play resumes, there was obvious tension between AG and the Lakers. Bones Hyland and Jeff Green continued to play great and the Nuggets were up by as many as 21. This experience for Zeke and Bones is incredibly valuable. Nuggets outscore the Lakers 29-19 in the 3rd and were up 102-79 to end the quarter as a result
Jeff Green and Zeke Nnaji hit back-to-back threes to start the 4th. Davon Reed steals the ball from Lebron again, all is good. LeBron gets a tough and-1 but Bones follows it up by hitting another deep 3. LeBron checks out with 6 minutes left after Jeff Green sets his new season-high in points. Nuggets up by 39 with 5 minutes left, officially garbage time. While Bones and Facu ended the game off still playing well, the game was long over.
The Nuggets will be back at Ball Arena to play the Utah Jazz in less than 24 hours. The game starts at 6:00 MST, can’t get much better than tonight though.