Nuggets roll to biggest win over Lakers with 117-85 romp
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have never been better against the Lakers.
Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley scored 20 points apiece, and the Nuggets rolled to their most lopsided victory ever over Los Angeles, a 117-85 rout on Tuesday night.
The 32-point margin surpassed a 29-point win in 1993.
“I thought we came out and just took it to them,” Millsap said. “Our halfcourt defense was tremendous. We were not allowing them to get any shots. We could have done a little better job of shutting them down in the paint but overall I think we did a really good job of coming in and establishing what we wanted to do, paying attention to the game plan. And it completely took them out of their game.”
Nikola Jokic added 14 points and Juancho Hernangomez had 12 for the Nuggets, who won their fourth in a row.
Kyle Kuzma scored 21 points for Los Angeles, while LeBron James and Brandon Ingram added 14 apiece.
The Lakers, who handed the Nuggets their first loss of the season in late October in Los Angeles, struggled to find their shooting touch against Denver’s defensive pressure.
The Lakers were outshot 48.5 percent to 39.5 percent and finished just 5 of 35 (14.3 percent) from 3-point range. And for the 10th time this season, the Nuggets held an opponent to under 100 points.
“I’ve thought we were a defensive team in my head for a while now but this year it is our identity,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “It speaks to the buy-in and commitment and the fact that our guys realize that regardless of the offense, when we defend, we are a team that can beat anyone. We have done that against really good teams and really good players. Tonight was another example of that.”
Up by eight at the half, the Nuggets stretched their lead to 89-71 with a strong third quarter. Jokic started the Nuggets’ third by hitting a pair of 3s and Mason Plumlee’s tip-in just before the quarter ended put Denver in front by 18 points going into the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets kept the pressure on in the final period, outscoring the Lakers down the stretch 28-14.
“We stayed in it as much as we could, stopped the dam from running over,” James said. “At one point it broke open because we couldn’t make shots.”
Denver led 58-50 at the half, getting a boost from Millsap, who converted a three-point play and then hustled down the floor for a soaring block of Ingram’s attempted layup in the last 39 seconds of the second quarter. Millsap had 16 points in the first half.
Lakers: G Rajon Rondo remains sidelined with a broken right hand. He’s missed the last six games but is making progress. He has been cleared to take part in non-contact basketball activities.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed a second consecutive game with left ankle soreness. Torrey Craig again started in his place. ... Millsap also had 11 rebounds, giving him his fourth double-double of the season. ... Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders watched the game from courtside seats.
Lonzo Ball, who had seven points in just over 18 minutes, missed most of the second half after spraining his left ankle earlier in the game.
“He sprained his left ankle pretty good but he wanted to give it a go,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “The way he was moving out there, it just didn’t feel right to leave him on the court so we got him out there.”
His playing status going forward was uncertain.
“We’ll probably get a better idea of what we’re dealing with after this flight and into tomorrow,” Walton added.
Lakers: Opens four-game homestand against Indiana on Thursday night.
Nuggets: Kick off a five-game road trip at Portland on Friday night.