Sports

L.A. ends 2022 on optimistic word by beating Nuggets


There no option to sugarcoat it: The 2021-22 season has been essentially the most disappointing season in Los Angeles Lakers historical past.

With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony all out on Sunday versus the Denver Nuggets, L.A. needed to not less than come out and stand robust within the season finale.

It did way more than that.

After a high-scoring first half that ended with a 69-69 tie, the Lakers fell behind within the third quarter, as they’ve about 17,792 occasions over the course of this season.

Trailing by as many as 17 at one level, it appeared there was no cause for them to even try an actual comeback.

But L.A.’s younger gamers carried out as if their pleasure was on the road, and so they proved one thing by making a livid comeback to say an additional time victory within the Mile High City, 146-141.

Several of these younger gamers performed very nicely, as they did on Friday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, and so they have offered a glimmer of hope for subsequent season.

Believe it or not, the Lakers do have a pathway again to title competition as quickly as subsequent season. It received’t be simple to get there, however they definitely can.

Austin Reaves: A+

Reaves got here out very aggressively in a number of aspects of the sport. He had eight rebounds within the first quarter alone, 4 of them on the offensive boards.

His passing was additionally robust tonight. In the second quarter, he arrange Malik Monk for a spectacular one-handed alley-oop jam.

The undrafted rookie struggled offensively, however he did job of drawing fouls, and he capitalized on the free-throw line, making all 14 of his foul pictures.

With 17 seconds remaining in regulation, Reaves made a 3-pointer to carry L.A. to inside two, then he made a steal and scored a layup on the following quick break to drive additional time.

In the additional interval, he took management with seven factors, a rebound and a blocked shot.

In all, he completed with 31 factors, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, an outstanding option to finish a season during which he emerged as a diamond within the tough.

Tonight, he actually lived as much as his nickname, “Hillbilly Kobe.”

Stanley Johnson: A-

Johnson made 5-of-9 pictures from the sector, and at occasions he confirmed some capability to interrupt his man off the dribble to get to the rim for layup alternatives.

He additionally bought eight rebounds and two assists to go together with a strong complete of 15 factors in 46 minutes.

Wenyen Gabriel: A-

Gabriel had one other robust sport with 14 factors on 6-of-13 taking pictures from the sector, and he additionally had 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocked pictures in 38 minutes.

At occasions, his lack of elite power was clearly seen. He had hassle guarding DeMarcus Cousins down low, and a few occasions he bought stuffed on layup makes an attempt close to the basket.

But Gabriel’s capability to efficiently contest pictures, and his total vitality and energy make him a promising function participant for the rapid future.

Kudos to the Lakers’ entrance workplace for figuring out his expertise, bringing him in and signing him to a normal NBA contract.

Talen Horton-Tucker: B-

Tucker bought off to an honest begin tonight, making 3-of-8 pictures from the sector and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe (he missed all three of his 3-point makes an attempt although) whereas getting three assists, one blocked shot and one rebound.

Unfortunately, he suffered a sprained ankle within the second quarter, forcing him to exit the sport after simply 13 minutes of motion.

But in the previous few weeks of the season, Horton-Tucker confirmed that regardless of having a disappointing season, he nonetheless has the potential to grow to be an excellent, well-rounded participant.

Malik Monk: A+

Monk went after it tonight like a hungry wolf, and he bought notably scorching within the second half.

He threw down a number of robust dunks, and because the sport wore on, his perimeter sport bought as scorching as Los Angeles throughout a September warmth wave.

With the Lakers down by double digits within the fourth quarter and seemingly on their option to a loss, Monk saved coming on the Nuggets with a number of perimeter pictures and drives to the ring.

He was a giant cause L.A. got here again to win this one, ending with 41 factors, which is a brand new career-high for him, on 14-of-25 taking pictures from the sector, 7-of-14 from downtown and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.

The Lakers have to do no matter they’ll to signal him to a brand new contract, as they’ll want him if they’re to return to elite standing subsequent season.

Wayne Ellington: A

Ellington bought scorching tonight and gave L.A. a carry off the bench. He made 4-of-8 pictures from 3-point vary and 6-of-10 total to complete with 18 factors in half-hour.

It is probably not a nasty thought for the Lakers to maintain him on a veteran’s minimal contract, if for nothing else than insurance coverage in case of accidents.

D.J. Augustin: C-

Augustin scored simply two factors in quarter-hour off the bench and missed all 4 of his shot makes an attempt, however he did notch two assists and seize one rebound to assist the Lakers’ trigger.

Mason Jones: B

Jones, a latest call-up from the G League, confirmed some potential for the second sport in a row. The guard went 1-of-3 from the sector, however he drew fouls and made all however one among his eight free throws.

He completed with 9 factors, 5 rebounds, three assists and one steal in 24 minutes.

Mac McClung: B-

McClung, one other call-up who had been the G League Rookie of the Year, bought 22 minutes and went 2-of-5 from the sector and 1-of-3 from downtown. He had six factors, three rebounds, one help, one steal and one block, though he was additionally whistled for 5 fouls.

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