After Monday night’s stinker, the Denver Nuggets recovered tonight with a solid 110-99 win over the winless Los Angeles Lakers.

Nikola Jokić dominated the game with 31 points, controlling the tempo and being precise on both ends of the floor. He outmatched Anthony Davis, who had 22 points on 19 shots but attempted just one free throw. Along with Jokić, Bruce Brown, Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Jeff Green each reached double-digit scoring.

“We got the win, but more importantly, we got the win playing how we need to play,” Michael Malone stressed to media postgame. “Defending, ball is flying, getting out and running off of our defense. So, it’s something to build upon.”

The Nuggets scored 35 fast break points tonight, a season high. They pushed the pace all night long and took advantage of a lackadaisical Lakers defense. Jamal Murray kicked things off early in the game with an explosive dunk, which got Ball Arena rocking early.

Here are the three primary takeaway’s from Wednesday’s primetime matchup against the Lakers:

Nikola Jokić gets back on track

After an odd game from Joker on Monday night in Portland, there was an expectation that he would be more aggressive against the Lakers. He wasn’t quite forcing things, but he was certainly more intentional tonight. He looked to score more and used that extra attention to create shots for others. He was aggressive on the glass, in passing lanes, and doing just about everything the Nuggets needed from him. He finished the game with 35 minutes, 31 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 steals.

“I mean, nobody can guard him,” Bruce Brown declared. “It’s just that simple.”

As Michael Malone noted pregame, he’s not Dikembe Mutumbo at the rim, but he doesn’t have to be. Rather, he has to stay engaged, make plays with his hands, and dominate the glass. He did that tonight.

“They went at him early, picked up that quick foul on AD,” Malone said postgame, “and I think after that, Nikola did a really good job of being active. Four steals. He’s got some of the best hands I’ve ever been around. His anticipation, he breaks up so many plays.”

Defense showed some good signs

It might have been the Lakers, but the Nuggets defense generated their first “Munder” of the season. LeBron James scored 19 points on 21 shots and also gave away 8 turnovers. The Lakers scored just 45 points in the second half, and much of it came in garbage time. Denver’s defense was spotty at times, but they locked in during the second half and made things difficult for the Lakers.

“We can be really good. We just don’t talk as much as we should,” Brown said of Denver’s defense. “We need more communication out there, but we go through every rotation in practice. Once we click, we’ll be good.”

As a result of their defense, the Nuggets scored 35 fast break points tonight. Everything is connected with this group, with Denver rebounding and pushing the tempo, collecting some steals, and even pushing the ball up the floor after makes.

“The message was simple at halftime: take away the paint,” shared Malone.

Message received. The Nuggets may have allowed 56 points in the paint, but it took the Lakers 52 shots from that area to get those numbers. The contests were good, and the Nuggets did a good job of defending without fouling for the most part.

The Lakers are terrible

There’s no way around this: the Los Angeles Lakers are an awful basketball team.

Missing Russell Westbrook tonight, the Lakers started Austin Reaves, Patrick Beverley, and Lonnie Walker IV along with LeBron and AD. Many thought that removing Russ would help LA’s chances, but if anything, it put even more pressure on LeBron. They were easier to game plan for than ever before, and the Nuggets took advantage of that. Denver was able to go to their garbage time lineup with roughly three minutes remaining.

Unless the Lakers make a midseason trade, there’s a zero percent chance they will make the playoffs…okay, 0.1%.

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