Here’s hoping the beef between the Lakers and Nuggets lasts a long time

Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, right, attempts to move past Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Photo: Kelvin Kuo, AP

Well the Lakers got their revenge. After two wins in-a-row against Los Angeles, Nuggets fans (including myself), were feeling pretty high. Last night’s 112-103 loss at the Staples Center brought Denver back down to Earth. It was a tough pill to swallow, considering the Nuggets current fight for the playoffs, but for the larger picture, it showed the beginning of a beautiful rivalry, one that should get fans excited.

Now the Nuggets and Lakers already have earned the right to be considered a rivalry, with the height of the tensions coming from when the two teams faced each other in the 2009 Western Conference Finals. But ever since Carmelo Anthony left Denver and Kobe Bryant retired, the rivalry has cooled off, due to the teams being out of contention. Now, with both teams possessing a solid core of young players, it seems the rivalry is getting ready to heat up big-time again.

Let’s start by taking a look behind the beef between the two teams this year. It all started towards the end of Denver’s 113-100 win in L.A. earlier in the season. As Nuggets guard Jamal Murray was dribbling out the clock, he did this:

Not the most egregious offense by far, but it certainly got the Lakers angry. So much so, that when the two teams were set to meet again, Lakers fans were calling it a revenge game. Well, in a 125-116 win, the Nuggets and Jamal Murray got the best of them again. Towards the end of the game, Lakers coach Luke Walton had had enough of Murray’s antics, cursing him out towards the end of the game, and calling him “disrespectful.”

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball also had some choice words for Murray:

Of course, the Lakers were finally able to come up on top. And during last night’s win, the pettiness was on full display:

What all of this really means is that the Nuggets and Lakers don’t like each other. As it should be. What gets me excited is that the majority of these players getting into it (with the exception of Isaiah Thomas) are going to be with their respective teams for years to come.

We’ve talked a lot on this sight about the young core of the Nuggets. Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and Nikola Jokic seem to be bound for stardom, and whether or not they make the playoffs this year or not, the Nuggets future is looking bright.

The same can be said for the Lakers. They’re led by stellar rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. Brandon Ingram, their first rounder a year ago, missed the last two match-ups against the Nuggets, but is a legit baller. Now with the recent emergence of Julius Randle, this is definitely a team that’s trending upwards.

While right now, this is just some bad blood between two teams on the outside of the playoffs looking in, the future of both teams points to this rivalry meaning a lot more some day soon.

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Wednesday’s Nuggets: Links

It’s the middle of the week and you’re depressed over the Nuggets hear-wrenching loss to the Lakers last night. Nuggets had talked a lot of trash and that one hurt. It really did. But all hope is not lost. Take a look at some of the best Nuggets content from the day:

That’s it for today. Remember, the Nuggets aren’t out of it yet! Their next game is at home against the Detroit Pistons tomorrow night.

Jamal Murray is the type of personality Denver needs

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Cleveland Cavaliers
Jamal Murray celebrates a 3-pointer. Photo: David Richard, USA Today Sports

Jamal Murray was a hot subject of discussion following the Nuggets 125-116 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers last Friday night. Murray had a good game, scoring 22 points and adding eight assists and four steals. His performance was made more significant because of his antics on the court. Murray seemed to enjoy trash-talking with Lakers guard Lonzo Ball for most of the night, and towards the end of the game, Lakers coach Luke Walton had had enough:

After the game, Walton called Murray’s antics “disrespectful.”

You know what? He’s right.

And I absolutely love it. Trash-talking is a part of basketball. Nearly every star in the history of the game has done it. And the great ones did it well. Jamal Murray is playing the best basketball of his young career, and because of his success, his on-the-court swagger has started to shine through. It’s a personality that the Nuggets haven’t seen in a while.

For me, the golden age of Nuggets basketball, the 2000s, were full of outgoing, brash, hard-nosed personalities. I grew up watching guys like Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin, and Marcus Camby. All tremendous basketball players. And all guys that knew how to talk, and how to back it up.

As much as I like the guys on the current Nuggets roster, nobody really seems to play with that type of edge. Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris are two great players, but on the court, they’re both more of the quiet type. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you need a player with some swagger. A player like Murray that’s going to do things like this:

It’s funny to me that Lakers fans are getting so upset at Murray. You’d think a fan base so obsessed with the past would remember a guy by the name of Kobe Bryant. Kobe was one of the greatest trash talkers of all-time:

The greatness of Kobe’s trash-talking came from what it did to opponents mentally. He would wear people down and break them. It was methodical. Diabolical. Mental warfare. As a Nuggets fan, Kobe Bryant became my most hated NBA player because I saw what his personality, when combined with his talent, was able to do to the guys on my team, and to a fan base.

Don’t get me wrong, Jamal Murray is nowhere close to Kobe Bryant, either from a basketball or trash-talking ability standpoint. But he is only 21 years old. And what Murray is doing to the Lakers this season is certainly Kobe-esque. He’s got the players mad at him. He’s got the coach mad at him. He’s become one of the most hated people in L.A. And most importantly, he’s got the Nuggets winning games.

All eyes will be on Murray again when the Nuggets head to Los Angeles tomorrow night for the final time this season. We’ll see if Murray again heads into the game with that “Mamba Mentality.”

Playoff picture: Nuggets in for a wild finish in the West

Paul Millsap, Tobias Harris
Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, right, looks to pass the ball as Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, in Denver. Photo: David Zalubowski, AP

The Nuggets have fluctuated in and out of the playoff picture for the past few weeks, but with just 15 games left on the schedule, it’s time to get serious. According to playoffstatus.com, the Nuggets have a 46 percent chance of making the playoffs. With those near 50-50 odds, there are a slew of scenarios to examine. I know March Madness is reserved for NCAA basketball, but for Nuggets fans, this last stretch of the season is going to be as crazy as it can get.

As of today, there are eight teams in the Western Conference within four games of each other, from the third to the tenth seed. The Nuggets, sitting at the ninth seed with a record of 37-30, have the same record as the tenth-seeded Utah Jazz. The Los Angeles Clippers, just one spot ahead of the Nuggets, are 36-29, but hold the tiebreaker over Denver because of the season series. Because of how close the race is, all of this can and will change day-to-day for the rest of the season. For example, if the down-trending San Antonio Spurs lose tonight to the Houston Rockets, they’ll drop all the way to the tenth seed, and the Nuggets will bounce back up to eighth.

Let’s take a look at some of the most simple things the Nuggets must do in order to get into the playoffs.

Win the easy ones…

The next five games for Denver are going to be critical. They play the Lakers, Pistons, Grizzlies, Heat, and the Bulls. With the exception of the Heat, all teams with losing records. For the Nuggets, this is going to be the easiest stretch of their last 15 games, in terms of their opponents. After the game in Chicago, Denver’s last nine opponents will be against teams with winning records. If the playoffs are the goal, the Nuggets need to go at least 4-1 in their next five games, because it only gets harder from there. Besides, if the Nuggets lose to the tanking Bulls or Grizzlies, they don’t deserve the playoffs.

Win out at home…

Only six of Denver’s final 15 games are at the Pepsi Center, a troubling thought considering the Nuggets year-long struggle to win games on the road. If they can sweep their final home games, it could provide the team with some lee-way to afford a few losses on the road.

Get to 46…

A day ago, Cliff Rodriguez of FanSided’s NuggLove, wrote about how the Nuggets need to win 10 of their last 16 games to make the playoffs. The Nuggets got the job done against the Sacramento Kings yesterday, so all they need is nine more wins.

The Nuggets have the opportunity to control their own destiny in the playoff race. If they can do it, it will be Denver’s first playoff appearance since 2013. Buckle up, Nuggets fans.

 

 

 

 

Nuggets beat Lakers, stay alive in playoff hunt: Game thread

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Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) backs down Denver’s Paul Millsap (4) during the Nuggets 125-116 win in Denver Friday night. Photo: Isaiah J. Downing, USA Today Sports

The Nuggets pulled off the close win tonight, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 125-116. Paul Millsap had his best game since returning from injury, scoring 21 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocks. Jamal Murray added 22 points and Nikola Jokic added 21.

Take a look at the social media feed from tonight’s game:

Pregame

Forward Wilson Chandler ruled out for the night. Will Barton set to start in his place.

The newest Laker Isaiah Thomas was ready to go for his first game with a new number.

Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson and Lakers coach Luke Walton were college teammates at the University of Arizona. They spent some time catching up before the game.

Playoff implications were on the line tonight for both teams.

 

And of course, if the Lakers do make the playoffs, we all know who to thank.

First half

Things got personal between the two teams right away.

The threes were falling early on.

Millsap was playing angry.

It was a high-scoring first quarter as the Nuggets grabbed the early lead behind strong play from Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap. Earlier today, Millsap said Jokic should be the focal point of the team.

A run by the Lakers brought them back into the game.

But the Nuggets came right back, courtesy of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.

Then the Lakers went on another run to cut the Nuggets lead to three at the half.

Second half

The hot shooting continued for both teams.

The Nuggets just could not pull away in the third. Malone burning timeouts left and right.

Taking a quick break from basketball, we all got to meet the Nuggets number one fan! Everyone head to Twitter to #MakeGabbyFamous.

After an ugly stretch of basketball, the Nuggets were lucky to be down by just two heading into the fourth.

Guard Devin Harris was able to keep the Nuggets afloat with his strong play off the bench.

The last few minutes of action was back-and-forth, with both teams trading buckets.

The Jokic-to-Millsap connection was clutch.

The play of the night came from a Paul Millsap block. Orignally called a goaltend, the call was reviewed and reversed.

And Jamal Murray seals it with clutch defense and free throws. Lakers coach Luke Walton was seen angrily yelling at Murray as the game came to a close. It seems Murray has officially become the Lakers most hated player.

Post-game

Jamal Murray definitely rubbed some Lakers fans the wrong way.

There’s no love-lost between these two teams. Even the Nuggets play-by-play man Chris Marlowe was getting in on it.

Coach Malone praised the play of both Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic. He also addressed the incident between Jamal Murray and Luke Walton after the game.

It was ugly at times, but the Nuggets got the job done. They’ll need to keep the momentum up through this last stretch of the season if they’re going to make the playoffs. They’ll play the Sacramento Kings tomorrow, and then will head out to Los Angeles for a rematch with the Lakers.

Friday’s Nuggets: Links

It’s Friday. You’re ready to relax and enjoy the weekend. But your team, the Denver Nuggets, had a rough week and it’s all that’s on your mind. Don’t worry, we got you covered. Catch up on all of the latest Nuggets news and content with these links:

That’s it for today! Come back tonight for live coverage of the Nuggets must-win game against the Lakers.