They say revenge is best served cold, but Denver's excellent shooting and the Lakers' inability to generate traction defensively stopped them from avenging their Western Conference Finals elimination. This postseason series fight resumed Tuesday night with a 119-107 defeat.
Lakers struggled to stay in this game after falling down early. Lakers recovered from 14 points behind in the first quarter and 18 in the second before halftime. Anthony Davis' spectacular kick and Lakers' great defense trimmed Denver's halftime advantage to nine.
Even with Denver riding the euphoria of their home fans on the night they raised their championship banner, the Lakers fought throughout the third and used another late surge to stay within striking distance. D'Angelo Russell and LeBron James led the Lakers to a 9-0 third quarter.
After LeBron's 4th-quarter performance, Lakers appeared done. LeBron scored nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter on halfcourt elbow rim attacks and open-court shots. The Nuggets took a timeout after LeBron's three-pointer pulled the Lakers within three at 92-89.
Unfortunately, the Lakers never got closer. After the break, Denver would stop every Lakers surge with brilliant play, as they had all game. A 16-7 surge by the Nuggets in the following four minutes put the Lakers on their heels.
Nikola Jokic, who finished with a 29-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple double, stabilized his team by scoring or assisting on 12 of its 16 points, putting the Lakers away.
His Lakers debut saw Prince score 18 points, three rebounds, and an assist on six of eight shots (4-6 from outside the arc). Prince was the lone perimeter player with range as guards struggled. Denver's perimeter size and pressure tested Russell (4-12), Vincent (3-8), and Reaves (4-11).