Kuzma Hits Game-Winner, Nuggets Lose 124-121 to Lakers

The Denver Nuggets lost a heartbreaker to the Lakers Monday night at the final buzzer.

Jerami Grant, alongside Gary Harris and Will Barton, was sidelined with right knee soreness Monday night as the Nuggets took on the first-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers, whose offense has struggled thus far in the NBA restart, shot an efficient 57 percent from the field during the first period. But the impeccable Michael Porter Jr. carried the Nuggets during the opening 12 minutes, scoring 11 points while shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field. Denver trailed Los Angeles 25-31 at the end of one.

Denver started the second quarter on a 10-1 run, taking a 35-32 lead before the Lakers took their first timeout with 9:48 remaining. Out of the timeout, LA’s offense found their footing once again, scoring eight quick points to take a three-point lead (39-42) with 7:34 remaining.

Despite Herculean efforts from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Nuggets trailed by just five (64-59) heading into the half. Davis lead all scorers with 17 points through the first two quarters, and James chipped in 13 points and 5 assists. Porter Jr. totaled 13 points on 5-5 shooting, and Paul Millsap scored 11 points while also shooting 100 percent from the field.

Jamal Murray started the second half hot, scoring six points while shooting 3-3 from the field, forcing the Lakers to take a timeout up one (72-71) with 7:17 remaining.

For the next four minutes, neither team could take more than a four-point lead. But Murray continued his stellar play, scoring four more points, dishing out two assists and corralling two rebounds before taking a breather with 3:06 to play in the third.

Denver’s bench finished the quarter on a strong note, going on a 8-1 run and entered the fourth with the game tied at 88.

With LA’s starters on the floor, Denver’s starters sat the entire fourth quarter—but that did not stop the Nuggets from controlling most of the period. Every Lakers’ basket was reciprocated with a Nuggets’ one, and a Keita Bates-Diop three-pointer pushed the Nuggets’ lead to three (116-111) with 2:30 remaining.

With 4.8 seconds remaining, Denver’s P.J. Dozier drew a blocking foul on Kyle Kuzma and was sent to the line for two. Dozier split his attempts at the line, but tied the game at 121. On the ensuing possession, the Lakers inbounded the ball to Davis, Kuzma got an open look from the left corner and drilled a game-winning three with 0.4 seconds remaining. Denver failed to convert on their final possession and the Nuggets lost a heart breaker 124-121.

Denver had eight players score in double figures, including a career-high 18 points from Dozier off the bench. Monte Morris added 14 points and four assists off the bench and Mason Plumlee totaled 11 points and five assists.

As a team, Denver shot 58 percent from the field and 56 percent from three, but the performances from James, Davis and Kuzma were too much to handle, as the trio scored a combined 81 points for Los Angeles.

Next: Grading the Nuggets' performance against Lakers

The loss puts Denver 1.5 games back of the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who the Nuggets play tomorrow at 9 p.m. EST, and just one game ahead of the fourth-seeded Houston Rockets.

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