LeBron-less Lakers earn gritty victory over Denver Nuggets

SCUFFLING the past week, the Los Angeles Lakers (LA) grinded out a 93-89 victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets on Monday at the Staples Center.

Playing without their two primary distributors in LeBron James and Dennis Schröder, the Lakers played with renewed energy. Anthony Davis had his best game since returning a week ago from a right calf strain, finishing with 25 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

Davis came up with a key block at the end of the game on a Facundo Campazzo attempted three-pointer to seal the win.

With the victory, the Lakers (37-28) moved back into the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks and a game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The loss ended Denver’s five-game winning streak, as the Nuggets (43-22) dropped back into a tie with the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 3 seed in the West.

Alex Caruso, who started in place of Schröder, contributed 11 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Marc Gasol added 10 points apiece.

Nikola Jokić paced the Nuggets with 32 points and nine rebounds. Michael Porter, Jr. contributed 19 points. On the night he received his NBA championship ring for playing with the Lakers last season, JaVale McGee scored 10 points.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said Schröder will miss the next 10 to 14 days due to the National Basketball Association’s health and safety protocols, so he’s likely out for the rest of the regular season. Schröder missed four games earlier this season for the same reason. The Lakers are now 1-5 with Schröder out.

James also did not play in the second game of a back to back, resting his sore right ankle. Vogel said James is day to day. Kyle Kuzma started in place of James, finishing with six points and four rebounds.

Nuggets guard PJ Dozier left the game with right hip tightness on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter and did not return.

Denver took a 24-20 lead after the first quarter. However, the Lakers used an 11-3 run at the end of the second quarter to grab a 45-42 lead at half. The Lakers upped that lead to five points, 70-65, at the end of the third quarter.

Los Angeles extended its lead to as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter and appeared in control. However, the Lakers turned it over 20 times in the game, and the Nuggets took advantage of LA’s miscues late, cutting the lead to two points with 1:37 left. — Reuters

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