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.