November 20, 2017, 1:02 am
Denver came into the game the hotter team but the Lakers simply wanted this game more, outperforming them in nearly every facet of the game. The game started evenly until just after the four-minute point of the first quarter when Julius Randle drew a second foul on Denver star Nikola Jokic, on his way to a 3-point play and a 17-15 lead for the Lakers. From there on out it was all Los Angeles as they played one of their best games of the season defeating the Nuggets 127-109.
Brook Lopez came out motivated in this matchup with Jokic, accruing 10 points, three assists, two rebounds and one block with a game rating of plus-10. He carried the torch by himself while the game was in question and finished the game with 21 points, four assists, three rebounds, two blocks and a plus-8 rating in only 22 minutes.
The second player to have a strong positive effect on the game for the Lakers was Randle. As mentioned above, his first play in the game was an aggressive drive earning the second personal foul on Jokic, permanently swinging the game in the Lakers’ favor. He finished the half with 17 points, two assists, five rebounds and a monstrous plus-26 rating. Randle finished the game with a season high 24 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a plus-27 rating.
Jokic never regained his composure after his early foul trouble and was ejected along with coach Mike Malone in the second quarter for making very slight contact with an official following a non-call at the rim. Although the Lakers already held a 61-39 lead at the time, his ejection marked the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Nuggets.
This was simply not Denver’s night as Paul Millsap joined coach Malone and Jokic in the locker room due to an injured left wrist that he suffered in the second quarter.
Once Julius and Lopez set the tone for the Lakers, Lonzo Ball took the torch and ran with it. Ball started slowly but had a massive second quarter finishing the first half with nine points, seven assists, eight rebounds, one block and an impressive plus-23 rating. He played an aggressive game on both ends finishing the game with 11 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and a game-high plus-29. He played with confidence and asserted himself on the court – delighting Laker fans and leading his team to victory.
Ball had multiple highlight plays in the game that really affected the game, excited the home crowd and demonstrated his innate feel for the game. A few plays of note included two separate occaissons were he blocked a shot, controlled the rebound and threw the ball ahead for an easy score for the Lakers. He also had a beautiful one-handed tip finish on an alley-oop pass from Randle. The connection between the two players was strong on the evening as Randle completed Ball’s triple-double with a 3-pointer later on.
Everything went the Lakers’ way in this game and the stat line demonstrated as such. Two of the many Lakers to join the aforementioned players with strong games were Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram. Kuzma finished with 17 points, three rebounds and three assists on 7-of-11 from the floor. Ingram contributed 13 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Stats and Observations
- The Lakers doubled the assist total of their opponent with 36 assists compared to 18 for the Nuggets.
- Los Angeles shot 12-of-32 from 3-point range for 37.5 percent — long range shooting has been a clear barometer for Laker success.
- Corey Brewer and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each contributed four steals in the game. Brewer had a particularly dominant stretch getting all four of his steals in the second quarter and sparking the Lakers’ huge run in that quarter.
- Los Angeles had all of its starters score in double-digits and seven players overall.
- The Lakers had only 15 turnovers in the game compared to 21 turnovers for the Nuggets.
- This game marked his second triple-double in five games and he became only the sixth player in league history to have multiple triple-doubles in his first 20 games (He achieved this in his seventeenth game).
- Ball became only the second Laker to accomplish this feat — joining Magic Johnson
- Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons both have two triple-doubles this season. They are the first pair of rookies with multiple triple-doubles before their 20th career game in the same season (ESPNStatsInfo via EliasSports)
- Ball’s 16 rebounds were a season-high for a rookie on the year and the highest total for a rookie guard in 17 years.
The Lakers play the Chicago Bulls in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Bulls are currently 3-11 on the season and firmly in the midst of a rebuilding season. One of the bright spots in their season has been first-round draft pick Lauri Markkanen, acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade, who is averaging 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.5 3-pointers.
The matchup will be the only game played on that night and all eyes will be on the Lakers and Lonzo Ball as NBA fans tune in to see if he can repeat his legendary performance from Sunday.