This game against the Nuggets was the first of multiple contests against competitive strong oppositions for the Lakers over the course of the next 10 days. To Denver, they brought with them their seven-game win streak and their impeccable league-best 12-3 road record.
After a promising first-quarter offensively, something they've been eager to fix over their recent games, it all fell apart late in the first half. To make matters worse, Anthony Davis limped back to the locker room just before halftime after straining his right Achilles, and from there, the Lakers never recovered.
They eventually lost 122-105 to a Nuggets squad that were missing three key rotation players in Will Barton, Gary Harris, and PJ Dozier. MVP candidate Nikola Jokic led from the front, recording his sixth triple-double of the season, with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Jokic leads game-changing run
After both sides were tied at 33 after the first 12 minutes, the Nuggets pulled away in the middle two quarters and that's when Jokic did most of his damage.
In the middle two quarters, Nuggets outscored the Lakers 70-52, which included a 28-10 run over the final seven minutes of the first half.
Things you love to see:- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 15, 2021
This ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/U8Kjp0OAM5
Over the middle 24 minutes, Jamal Murray scored 17 of his 25 while Jokic scored 11 and dished out eight dimes that resulted in 20 points.
Sombor Shufflin' pic.twitter.com/qbxCUAoi2r- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 15, 2021
The Serbian outplayed the Lakers' MVP candidate in LeBron James, who finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.
Nuggets' bench duo steals the show
With some of the regular rotation players missing this game, a couple of bench players for the Nuggets took full advantage of the additional minutes.
Facundo Campazzo averages 11.8 minutes this season but played 26 in this one, finishing with 15 points, four assists, and two steals. The Argentinian, easily, had the highlight of the game:
Just as pretty from the courtside angle 😍 pic.twitter.com/Vw2dnPP5Bj- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 15, 2021
"Facu's got a big heart. He plays hard. ... He's not afraid," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said of the 29-year-old NBA rookie.
The other reserve to steal the show was Zeke Nnaji, who finished with 16 points in 23 minutes (season average of 4.0) on 4-of-5 shooting from long distance. Neither of them turned the ball over as the Nuggets outscored the Lakers by nearly double digits when both these players were on the floor.
Among bench players from both teams, Kyle Kuzma was the top scorer with 19 points but clearly, the duo of Campazzo and Nnaji were the difference makers.
Latest on Anthony Davis' injury
Anthony Davis suffered a right Achilles strain, probably after he collided knees with Jokic.
"It's a part of the game, it's more so frustrating that I'm not able to go out there and play," Davis said postgame. "... I don't want to mess around with this type of injury."
Anthony Davis has a right Achilles strain; he will not return tonight, and will undergo an MRI tomorrow.- Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 15, 2021
According to The Athletic's Bill Oram, AD will undergo that MRI in Minneapolis, where the Lakers travel to next.
"Just overall safety and (his) health," LeBron James said of Davis postgame. "That's my only concern … want him to get back to himself."
When he left the game, Davis had recorded 15 points, four rebounds, and an assist in 14 minutes.
After finishing their four-game homestand with a 3-1 record, the Nuggets travel East for a four-game road trip, which begins with a game in Boston in a couple of days. On the other hand, the Lakers will travel to Minneapolis to play the Timberwolves in a couple of days.
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