The Los Angeles Lakers lost on Tuesday night, which would be a surprise if they had not lost the previous four games and 14 of the past 15 games.
Just as the Lakers helped the Orlando Magic snap their 10-game losing streak two games earlier, the purple and gold assisted the Denver Nuggets in snapping a six-game losing streak on Tuesday night. As has often been the case this season, the Lakers left it until late before allowing the game to completely slip.
The Lakers started Tuesday's game with a 7-0 run. From there, the lead would grow to 10 points before leveling out to a five-point differential at the end of the first quarter. Wayne Ellington got off to a fast start with 11 points in the opening 12 minutes, and rookie Jordan Clarkson likewise added five points and four assists in the early going.
In the second quarter, the Lakers would again build out a lead and grow their advantage to 12 points. However, closing quarters continued to be a problem, and the Lakers allowed the Nuggets to trim the lead to only three points by the halftime buzzer.
To that point, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson had been relatively quiet with only four points and six assists. In the second half, Lawson would take over. The 27-year-old point guard would tab 28 points and 10 assists in the second half to finish with a grand total of 32 points, which was a new season high, and 16 assists, which tied his previous season high.
For the Lakers, Carlos Boozer would finish as LA's top scorer and rebounder with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Even with Lawson slicing and dicing his way through the Lakers, the purple and gold managed to stay close. With 1:37 to play, Boozer's layup brought the Lakers within one point. Lawson would immediately answer with a long range jump shot, and Lakers coach Byron Scott lost his patience with his rookie point guard's defensive effort.
"It was the fact that [Clarkson] wasn't guarding [Lawson]," Scott explained why he pulled Clarkson at that late stage. "[Clarkson] was giving [Lawson] way too much space, way too much respect. And that's what I told [Clarkson] when I took him out."
With 1:11 on the clock and the Lakers trailing by three points, Jeremy Lin came in for the Lakers. After Lawson found Darrell Arthur for a bucket, Lin committed his fifth turnover of the night with a terrible pass that led directly to two points the other way.
"One pass that he tried to make, a cross court pass...I've told [Lin] before that pass--there's no way," Scott spoke about Lin's back breaking error late in the game. "I can intercept that pass. Can't throw it. Not in this league. Not with these guys."
"Just bad decisions," Scott summarized Lin's turnovers.
After Lin's late giveaway and the subsequent layup, the Lakers trailed by seven points with 46.5 seconds to play. They wouldn't score again, and a Lawson three-pointer would further distance the Nuggets from the Lakers to end the contest with a final score of 106-96.
Next, the Lakers play on Wednesday night in Portland.