By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports activities Author
DENVER (AP) — The sight of Anthony Davis limping off the court docket was laborious for the Los Angeles Lakers to shake.
They by no means actually recovered.
Nikola Jokic recorded his sixth triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets beat the Lakers 122-105 on Sunday night time in a recreation during which Davis re-aggravated his sore proper Achilles.
As soon as he exited late within the first half, the Nuggets turned an in depth recreation right into a runaway.
Now, the one thought for the Lakers is the results of Davis’ MRI on Monday for what the staff referred to as a pressure.
“I don’t need to fiddle with this kind of damage,” Davis mentioned. “Simply making an attempt to determine the very best steps.”
The highlight was on the showdown between Jokic and LeBron James, who’re each among the many favorites within the NBA MVP race. Jokic completed with 23 factors, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. James had 22 factors, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, however the Lakers’ seven-game win streak ended.
For his huge recreation, Jokic credited a brand new mindset.
“If I’m open, shoot it,” Jokic mentioned. “If I see somebody is coming, simply go the ball. Don’t overthink something.”
Los Angeles by no means bought again on observe after Davis limped to the locker room. He was banged up when he tried to drive round Jokic with 2:39 left earlier than halftime.
Davis hobbled to the free-throw line, made each after which was subbed out. He completed with 15 factors and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Coming into the sport, Davis was questionable with what was described as proper Achilles tendinosis. He missed two contests because of the ailment earlier than returning in a win over Memphis on Friday.
James now has some recommendation for Davis: Take on a regular basis he wants. Do not rush again.
“Simply need him to be wholesome and get again to full power,” James mentioned. “All I care is about his well being.”
Jamal Murray scored 25 factors for Denver in its third straight win. Zeke Nnaji had 16 factors, and fellow reserve Facundo Campazzo completed with 15.
“On this enterprise, you by no means know when your quantity goes to be referred to as,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned. “You higher be prepared when it is referred to as. That is what I am pleased with most.”
This was assembly No. 2 of the season between the groups that superior to the Western Convention finals final season. Within the first contest on Feb. 4, the Lakers trailed by 12 factors within the third quarter earlier than happening a giant run to take management. They outscored the Nuggets 68-35 within the second half for a a 114-93 win.
Solely this time, the third quarter wasn’t a difficulty. Denver outscored the Lakers 30-24 within the third to open a cushty lead and stretched it to as many as 21 within the fourth.
And whereas the Lakers have been in a position to rally from 20-point deficits of their final two wins, they could not storm again on this one.
“It’s undoubtedly deflating anytime you lose a giant participant — a giant man in your staff,” James mentioned. “We have now lots of issues that is in-built round A.D. and lots of different gamers. When he goes down, you must change up. That harm us.”
Lakers: F Kyle Kuzma scored 19 factors and grabbed eight rebounds.
Nuggets: Gary Harris (left adductor pressure), Will Barton III (private causes) and P.J. Dozier (strained proper hamstring) have been out. … F Paul Millsap did not play within the second half because of a sprained left knee. He had 10 factors.
Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been in a hunch since hitting 7 of 10 from 3-point vary on Jan. 21 at Milwaukee. He’s 9 of 36 from deep since that recreation, together with 1 of 4 Sunday.
“He’s simply not getting as many clear seems,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel mentioned. “It’s not something I’m fearful about.”
Campazzo had a no-look go within the first quarter that whirled previous the top of Kuzma and straight to Nnaji, who drained the 3-pointer.
For nearly as good because the NBA champion Lakers have been final season, Malone believes their additions of Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schröder and Marc Gasol takes them to a fair larger plateau.
“In my view, and no disrespect to any gamers that aren’t again … I feel they’re even higher this 12 months with the expertise they’ve introduced in,” Malone mentioned.
Lakers: At Minnesota on Tuesday. Beat the Timberwolves 127-91 on Dec. 27.
Nuggets: Start a four-game journey Tuesday in Boston.
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