The Los Angeles Lakers recent woes had seen them win just three of their last ten games before last night’s matchup with the talented Denver Nuggets.
With the Lakers without the injured LeBron James, who tried to continue a return from injury in the previous game, but limped off in the fourth quarter complaining of pain from it once again, it was their other superstar Anthony Davis that stepped up.
Davis’ 25 points were key as the Lakers got the better of the Nuggets in a low-scoring 93-89 win. A victory which moves the Lakers into sole possession of fifth spot in the Western Conference ahead of Dallas and Portland.
With LeBron James hurting, the Lakers star admits the team will only go as far as he can take them — and that whoever thought up the play-in tournament should be canned https://t.co/fcPnibg0yg
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 3, 2021
Rare Defeat For Denver
The Nuggets were 9-1 in their last ten heading into this game and though MVP favorite Nikola Jokic led the way with another 32 points, 5 assists and 9 rebounds, he could not inspire the team to victory.
After taking a four-point lead in the first quarter, the Lakers bounced back in the second to take a three point lead at the half, and in a tight second half they extended that to 14 points in the fourth quarter before the Nuggets rallied to close the deficit to two.
However, Davis’ block on Facundo Campazzo’s three point attempt was crucial and the Lakers saw out time leading by four.
It wasn’t all bad news for Denver on the night as with Portland losing, this means that the Nuggets are assured of finishing in the top six in the Western Conference and will avoid the Play In tournament.
And injured Lakers star LeBron James had plenty to say about that.
LeBron Takes Aim At The Play In
After testing the process in the bubble last year, the NBA announced at the start of the season that there would be a play in tournament for the teams finishing 7th to 10th in each Conference.
At the end of the regular season, the teams ranked 7th and 8th would play each other with the winner becoming the 7th seed. Then the teams finishing 9th and 10th would play each other to become the eighth seed.
It’s a system that hasn’t gone done well with LeBron, especially as his Lakers have slid down the rankings in the Western Conference.
“If we end up in the playoff, whatever that thing is – whoever came up with that sh*t needs to be fired.” He riled. “But, whatever.”
Predicated On Health
Despite his gripes about the new play in system, James realises that with injuries affecting many of the top players at the Lakers over the last few weeks, how well they recover from those injuries will be key in determining their success, or lack of it, this season.
Anthony Davis played his best game since his return from injury a few games ago last night, but LeBron is still struggling and guard Dennis Schroder is out indefinitely due to NBA Covid-19 protocols.
“I think our team is predicated on health,” stated LeBron.
“That’s the number 1 thing for our ballclub. We’re a team that we need to be healthy and we need to be full.”
“And if it’s not one thing, it’s the other. And then we show up today and the starting point guard is not in the line up, so it’s like another blow for us. That’s going to be the biggest thing for us down the stretch, more than the games we’re playing: just how healthy we’re going to be going into the stretch run.”
There were seven other games played yesterday in the NBA, with notable wins for the New York Knicks, who defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 118-104, and the Philadelphia 76ers, who were 106-94 winners over the Chicago Bulls and held onto top spot in the Eastern Conference as a result.
The Utah Jazz reclaimed top spot in the Western Conference with a 110-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs, while Portland’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks means the Nuggets are assured of a top six spot in the playoffs.
- Pistons 112-119 Magic
- Wizards 154-141 Pacers
- Pelicans 108-123 Warriors
- Hawks 123-114 Trail Blazers
- Grizzlies 104-118 Knicks
- Bulls 94-106 76ers
- Jazz 110-99 Spurs
- Lakers 93-89 Nuggets
There are a number of big games tonight including the Phoenix Suns hoping to go back to joint top of the Western Conference when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, while in the Eastern Conference there is a massive match up as the 3rd place Milwaukee Bucks take on second place Brooklyn Nets.