On Tuesday night at Staples Center, D'Angelo Russell and Ivica Zubac both had career nights as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets, 120-116.
Russell, who is a second-year point guard, recorded a new career-high with 10 assists, to go along with 22 points and seven rebounds. Zubac, who is a 19-year-old rookie center, set a new career-high with 17 points.
In the first quarter, the Lakers welcomed Russell back, and the point guard provided a missing spark to the offense. Russell scored seven points, collected three assists and pulled down a rebound in the first quarter, but most importantly, the 20-year-old did not record a single turnover.
However, Denver's Kenneth Faried lived up to his nickname of "Manimal" and attacked the Lakers on the glass and in the paint. Faried used his superior athleticism to nearly record a double-double only 10 minutes into the game.
When Faried went to the bench after 10 minutes, the Nuggets' forward had already scored 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Eventually, Faried finished the game with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Faried's early influence on the boards played a major part in the Nuggets taking a 59-54 lead into the halftime intermission. At that stage, the Lakers trailed the Nuggets 31-20 in rebounds.
Seemingly, though, Lakers coach Luke Walton fired up his team in the locker room, and the Lakers cleaned up on the glass to start the third quarter. LA out-rebounded the Nuggets 14-10 in the third quarter and rode the hot hand of Nick Young to a five-point lead at the end of three quarters.
Young scored 10 points in the third quarter to bring his total to 20 points through the first three quarters, as the 31-year-old guard seemed to flourish with his backcourt-mate, Russell, back in the lineup. Young eventually finished with 23 points for game-high honors.
The fourth quarter started with the Nuggets immediately hitting a trio of three-pointers to help open the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run. Suddenly, the Lakers had an uphill battle staring them in the face, as Denver hit its first six three-point attempts in the quarter.
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However, Denver's defense did not exactly shut down the Lakers at any point on Tuesday, so LA managed to hang around and trailed by only two points entering the timeout just past the six-minute mark. Despite the Nuggets hitting seven of their first eight three-point attempts in the fourth quarter, LA took a three-point lead with four minutes remaining in the game when Young hit a long range bomb from the corner.
Young's three-pointer resulted in Russell's ninth assist, which set a new career-high for the second year point guard.
When the Nuggets responded and re-assumed the lead, LA looked to their 19-year-old rookie center. Zubac had scored nine points through the first three quarters. He scored eight in the fourth quarter alone, including big buckets down the stretch to help LA to a 120-116 victory.
Notes: Julius Randle missed the game due to pneumonia