The Denver Nuggets were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers 121-110 on Sunday night, dropping to 4-3 on the season. The Lakers improved to 1-6 and celebrated their first win at the expense of the Nuggets.

LeBron James scored 26 points and dished eight assists, hitting some high degree of difficulty shots. Anthony Davis scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, battling through a back injury that clearly hampered his movement but wasn’t a major issue tonight. Russell Westbrook scored 18 points in 32 minutes off the bench, playing his best game of the year thus far.

As a team, the Lakers shot 43.3% from three-point range, grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, and turned the ball over just eight times. It was a strong offensive performance from a team clowned for their offense to begin the season. The Nuggets allowed that to happen as a defensive unit, which should be rather embarrassing.

Nikola Jokić led the Nuggets with 23 points, though many of those came with the game already out of reach. Jamal Murray added 21 points of his own. Michael Porter Jr. dealt with foul trouble but still found his way to 17 points, albeit on 15 shots. Aaron Gordon contributed 18 points on 11 shots, hitting three three-pointers in the process and getting back on track with his outside jumper.

It wasn’t enough though, as the Nuggets bench surrendered leads in both halves. Bruce Brown and Jeff Green both struggled in their minutes, while Christian Braun struggled to find consistent minutes within Denver’s rotation.

Here are the three primary takeaways from the Nuggets’ matchup against the Lakers in LA:

LA nightlife is undefeated

The Nuggets spent Saturday night in Los Angeles before playing tonight. It’s a bit of a cop-out, but this was Halloween weekend. There are plenty of parties.

What’s clear is that the Nuggets didn’t provide the requisite effort and focus to defeat a winless team. The Lakers weren’t ever going to go 0-82, but the Nuggets made it easy for them to hang around by going through spurts of play throughout the game where the defense was completely unserious and the offense was rudderless.

Jokić, though not the problem, certainly wasn’t the solution on a night when the Lakers were throwing an ailing Anthony Davis and Wenyen Gabriel at him. Jokić attempted 16 shots and was great from two-point range, but he was 1-of-5 from three and couldn’t get his outside jumper to drop once again. He also wasn’t locked in defensively when the Nuggets needed him to be.

Bench falls apart without point guards

Bones Hyland was a late scratch from this game right before the opening tip with a hip sprain. That immediately threw a wrench in Denver’s rotation and placed Ish Smith in his first regular bench minutes of the season. After what seemed like a normal eight minute rotation from Smith, the veteran point guard sat out the second half with a calf strain.

With just one point guard available in Murray and Porter in foul trouble, the Nuggets ran an all-bench lineup at the end of the third quarter featuring Bruce Brown, Christian Braun, Davon Reed, Jeff Green, and DeAndre Jordan. It went even worse than one might expect.

Jamal Murray rises to the occasion

It took awhile this season, but tonight was the first night that Murray really started to look exactly like his old self. He controlled the tempo while he was out there and had the ball on a string. His two-man game with Jokić looked great throughout the evening, with the Nuggets generating open shots consistently.

Murray finished the game with 32 minutes, his most of the season so far. He had 21 points and 5 assists on 9-of-21 from the field and 3-of-7 from three-point range. He committed just one turnover. While the efficiency still isn’t at tip-top shape, the movement and plays were there. He looks good, and there’s no real way to blame Murray for tonight’s loss. The Nuggets were plus-13 in his 32 minutes. That means they were minus-24 when he sat.

Final Rotations