THE young Los Angeles showed grit after blowing another big lead early to hang on in a thrilling finish over the Denver Nuggets, 120-116, at the Staples Center on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time).
Nick Young led the Lakers with 23 points, 20 in the first three quarters, but Lou Williams and rookie Ivica Zubac led the fourth quarter comeback and D’Angelo Russell provided the finishing touch to help the Lakers end a three-game slide.
Williams had 13 of his 21 points while Zubac added eight of his career-high 17 markers down the stretch help the Lakers come out on top after losing a double-digit third quarter lead.
After five straight points by Gary Harris gave Denver a 111-108 lead, Williams and Zubac teamed up in 6-0 run to put the Lakers up 114-111 with 1:54 remaining. The Nuggets got within one on a Wilson Chandler drive but D’Angelo Russell gave the Lakers some separation with a clutch midrange jumper for a 116-113 edge with 43.8 seconds left.
Kenneth Faried came up with a split at the stripe on the other end, and Russell made a pair of free throws for insurance before another Chandler basket in the paint got Denver still within reach, 118-116, with 4.1 seconds to go.
Russell then slammed the door on a Nuggets comeback with another pair of charities to snap Denver’s three-game win streak.
The Lakers blew an 11-point first quarter lead and trailed by eight early in the third before holding the Nuggets to 0-of-9 from the field in a 16-6 start after the break to take control. The Nuggets, though, rallied back from a 15-0 point deficit to regain the advantage, 87-81, after a 14-0 blitz bridging the third and fourth quarters.
The game turned into a three-point shootout near the midway point of the period, with Williams particularly catching fire with two triples and a drive to tie the game at 103 at the 4:41 mark to set up the wild finish.
Russell finished with 22 points and a career-best 10 assists for the Lakers (17-34).
Chandler led the Nuggets (21-26) with 26 points off the bench, while Harris and Danilo Gallinari had 17 markers apiece. Faried had a huge double-double of 14 points and 17 rebounds.