The Denver Nuggets — who are ravaged by injuries — entered the Pepsi Center preparing to take on the Los Angeles Lakers without three of their starters. Paul Millsap, who had surgery on his left wrist to repair ligament damage, Nikola Jokic, who is recovering from an ankle sprain two days earlier, and Wilson Chandler, who has been dealing with a sore lower back, all missed the Nuggets’ matchup with the Lakers.
Because of all the injuries that the Nuggets had to deal with, they need extra production from everyone else on the roster; specifically Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Jamal Murray.
From the get-go, Murray came out firing. He hit three separate three-pointers and had 11 of the Nuggets’ first 18 points. He was hitting shots from deep, getting into the paint, and getting to the foul line while actively looking for his teammates. Murray became the engine that drove the Nuggets in the first quarter and you could almost see Murray’s confidence growing in live time. He finished the first quarter with 14 points on seven shots while going 3-5 from beyond the three-point line.
Then, a surprising contributor appeared. In his first six minutes of playing time, Trey Lyles managed to score 10 points, including two three-pointers, in just 13 minutes of action in the first half.
Unfortunately, the Lakers came out in the second quarter and stole the lead back. The Nuggets did bounce back but still ended up with a deficit of four points into the second half by a score of 59-55. Murray paced the Nuggets with 16 points and Harris also contributed 11 points of his own. The Nuggets also shot an obscene 19 threes and made eight of them in the first half alone.
The Nuggets fought back in the third quarter as they outscored the Lakers 23-21 in the frame but they still ended up heading to the fourth quarter down by two to the tune of an 80-78 score. Faried did help the Nuggets climb back into the game thanks to 12 points and four rebounds in the third quarter alone.
The fourth quarter did not start the way Denver envisioned. The Lakers continued to feast in the painted area and there was really nothing that the Nuggets could do to stop them. Eventually, the Nuggets did climb back into the game after being down by as many as eight points. The Lakers lead shrank to just one point thanks to two free-throws from Lyles with 5:48 left in the game.
The rest fourth quarter was a fight to finish. The tone of that fight was set by the physical play of Mason Plumlee, who just so happens to be dealing with a core strain. Plumlee played great defense, was setting strong screens, rebounding with tenacity, and even hitting shots. His play was the catalyst for the Nuggets who proceeded to tie the game with just under five minutes left.
Behind the defense of Harris and the timely scoring of Barton, the Nuggets retook the lead. The Nuggets — without three of their starters — refused to roll over and quit. The Nuggets fought tooth and nail every play to finish the game and it was that desire and obsession to secure a victory that carried the Nuggets to their second straight win.
The Nuggets escaped with a win over the Lakers by a score of 115-100 and improved to 13-9 on the year thanks to 28 points from Murray and great team-defense to end the game.
Tune in below for a full recap of the Nuggets’ win…