Denver Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay, left, drives as Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, center, is screened by Darrell Arthur during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in Ontario, Calif.
Despite sitting most of their starting lineup, the Denver Nuggets blew past the Los Angeles Lakers 122-104 Wednesday night in Ontario, Calif.
Here are seven takeaways from the dominant win to push Denver’s preseason record to 3-0:
1. Starters Nikola Jokic (right elbow sprain), Paul Millsap (rest), Gary Harris (right shoulder strain) and Wilson Chandler (right hip soreness) sat out, opening opportunities for Trey Lyles, Juancho Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee and Will Barton to get the game’s first minutes. Veterans Jameer Nelson, who sustained a toe injury in the first training camp practice, and Darrell Arthur, who is coming off a knee injury, both made their preseason debuts. Young players Torrey Craig and Malik Beasley also got first-half minutes for the Nuggets, and first-round pick Tyler Lydon and second-rounder Monte Morris got minutes in the fourth quarter. Jamal Murray, who finished with 20 points and went 5 of 6 from 3-point distance, started at point guard after Emmanuel Mudiay held that role in Monday’s game against Los Angeles.
2. The Nuggets started hot from beyond the arc, making six of their first 10 shots from 3-point distance to dash out to an early double-digit lead. That advantage ballooned to 22 points when Hernangomez knocked down a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer; and to 30 points late in the third quarter. Overall, the Nuggets shot 54.4 percent overall and 50 percent from deep, reached 74 points at the half and eclipsed the century mark late in the third quarter.
3. Lyles, who did not play Monday against the Lakers, made an early impact, scoring 12 points in the first half and drilling three 3-pointers. But fellow power forward Kenneth Faried was terrific off the bench with a game-high 25 points on 11 of 13 shooting and seven rebounds. A three-point play that put Denver up 48-35 in the second quarter was arguably Faried’s biggest highlight play. Faried and Lyles are competing for the backup spot behind Millsap, and it will be interesting to see how coach Michael Malone distributes their minutes in the Nuggets’ final two preseason games.
4. Malone classified the Nuggets’ defensive performance as “poor” in his postgame radio interview with Altitude 950, emphasizing his team allowed too many points in the paint and in transition. The Lakers shot 51.9 percent overall and outscored Denver 29-19 in the fourth quarter.
5. Mudiay was the first Nugget off the bench, following an inconsistent outing in Denver’s first game against the Lakers. He finished with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds in 21 minutes but also turned the ball over five times. Mudiay even played a short stretch in the first quarter alongside Murray, who shifted to shooting guard.
6. Plumlee flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes.
7. The Lakers were also missing key pieces because of injury, as No. 2 overall draft pick Lonzo Ball sat out with a sprained ankle and Brandon Ingram (head) also did not play.