The short-handed Los Angeles Lakers honored LeBron James as he passed Michael Jordan in all-time scoring but they couldn’t overcome a large deficit versus the Denver Nuggets on March 6.
James passing Jordan for fourth on the all-time scoring list was one of the few bright spots for the Lakers after the 115-99 defeat to the West’s No. 2 seeded Nuggets.
At the 5:38 mark in the second quarter, James drove and converted a layup that secured his place over Jordan in all-time scoring. James finished the game with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 31 points.
“You guys have no idea what M.J. did for me and my friends growing up,” LeBron said about his gratitude for Jordan after the historic night.
James did his best to describe what it meant to pass Jordan on the all-time scoring list after the loss.
“What made him the guy for everyone?” James said about his admiration for Jordan via the post-game presser. “He was everything. Name it he was everything.”
James thanked Jordan for what he meant to him as a kid from the inner-city in the post-game press conference as well as by wearing, “thank you” on his special Jordan brand shoes.
“M.J. had a lot to do with me making it out [of inner-city Akron, Ohio],” James added about Jordan’s impact on him. “…Mike had no idea what he was doing for a kid that was growing up a 45-minute flight away from Chicago.”
Otherwise, the Nuggets finished with all players in double-digits scoring including a 26-12 run to end the game after the Lakers’ brought it within two.
“It’s not going to be easy for 48 minutes,” Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said about how his team finishing the game. “We have to understand why we built the lead and not get comfortable with success.”
Part of that success included Denver’s 33 assists to only eight turnovers.
“That’s an unbelievable ratio on the road,” the Nuggets head coach said after the victory.
Will Barton led the pack in scoring with 23 points, 4 rebounds and five assists.
“We never panicked,” Barton said after the win. “I never felt like we were gonna lose.”
Nikola Jokic also added 12 points and 17 rebounds. He was a big reason for the Nuggets 24-6 advantage in second chance points.
Not to mention, L.A. killed themselves at the free throw line too. They shot 12-of-23 from the line for the game.
L.A.’s fight back
L.A. came back from a large deficit but it wasn’t enough versus the Denver Nuggets who finished with a 115-99 win over the Purple and Gold on March 6.
Denver led by as much as 23 with 8 minutes left in the third quarter before a JaVale McGee alley-oop dunk finally gave the Lakers some momentum. After that, LeBron scored his own running layup. L.A. would go on 9-0 run before Gary Harris answered for the Nuggets.
“Win or lose, that’s how we need to play.” Walton said about the comeback.
L.A. would end the third quarter down, 85-78, thanks to McGee’s six points in the third. McGee finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes.
The Lakers also got a spark from some unlikely names.
“We’re looking for guys who are gonna play the way we need to play.” Walton said about the unexpected characters stepping up in the second half.
Moritz Wagner scored five of his 11 points in the third. That was one-point shy of his career high.
Alex Caruso and Jonathan Williams took advantage of expanded roles too. Caruso finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. He brought the Lakers within 10 after free throws with two minutes left in the first.
Williams hit his own highlight, reverse-layup to bring the Lakers within six at the 11 minute mark in the fourth. He added eight points and two rebounds in 15 minutes.
On the next Lakers posession, Lebron James would come back and hit a shot to bring them within four. L.A. would get as close as 87-85 with ten minutes remaining.
However, it was all Nuggets after that. Millsap hit a shot to stretch the lead to four. There was a technical foul on that play but it didn’t matter as the Lakers missed the free throws.
Nuggets Took Control
Again, the Lakers couldn’t tie the game after Josh Hart missed an alley-oop with seven minutes left. LeBron missed the follow up too.
After that, Gary Harris took over for the Nuggets with 11-straight points in the fourth. The Nuggets shooting guard finished with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists.
It’s really cool to see him back,” Jokic said about Harris finding his rhythm versus the Lakers. “Just to see him aggressive, confidence, taking good shots and finishing strong.”
Harris started the Nuggets’ re-surge as he hit a three to make the game 92-87. James answered with a three and Harris came right back with an answer.
The Nuggets guard banked a shot from the post and got fouled later in the fourth. Harris converted the free throw and answered a Lakers’ miss with another shot that made the game 100-91. L.A. wouldn’t get any closer.
Ultimately, the Lake Show could not overcome an early deficit. The first quarter ended with the Lakers facing an 18-point deficit. L.A. turned the ball over four times in the first while the Nuggets only lost the ball once. Plus, Denver outscored L.A. 7-0 in second chance points in the first period.
The Boston Celtics travel to Los Angeles for a game on Saturday, March 9, at 5;30 P.M. PST. Que the Kyrie Irving re-uniting with LeBron James in L.A. rumors.