The Denver Nuggets entered Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers riding high. Two days earlier, the Nuggets blasted the New Orleans Pelicans on national TV. But after the ball tipped in Los Angeles, it didn’t take long for those good vibes to dissipate.
The Nuggets slogged through a disastrous first half — highlighted by Michael Malone’s and Nikola Jokic‘s ejections — and lost 127-109.
With 6:20 remaining in the second quarter, referee Rodney Mott threw Malone and Jokic out of the game. Both were protesting what they believed to be a missed call against Jokic. Malone ran onto the court and into Mott’s path. Jokic also complained, but why he was thrown out was less clear.
At the time, the Nuggets trailed by 18 points. They gave up 70 points to the Lakers, who entered the game as the third-worst offensive team in basketball, in the first half alone. Denver committed 13 turnovers in the first two quarters and went into the break down 22 points. Los Angeles made 29 field goals in the first half. Meanwhile, Denver made just 15.
Lonzo Ball recorded his second career triple-double as he finished with 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. He outplayed Denver’s duo of young point guards. Jamal Murray missed his first six shots of the game and didn’t make a field goal until early in the fourth quarter. He went 2 for 11 after going for 31 points against the Pelicans. Mudiay made only 2 of 9 shots.
Gary Harris was one of the few bright spots in the loss. He made 4 of 6 threes and had a team-high 20 points.
Denver played the second half without Jokic and Paul Millsap, who was held out with a left wrist injury.
The Nuggets (9-7) face the Sacramento Kings (4-12) at 8 p.m. Monday.