The Los Angeles Lakers had Anthony Davis and LeBron James and the Denver Nuggets didn't down the stretch of Wednesday's showdown, but Nuggets head coach Mike Malone believed his team's 120-116 overtime loss was about more than just that.
"Very un-Nugget-like down the stretch," Malone said when asked to assess how his team played with the game on the line, per Katy Winge of Altitude TV.
While Malone was unhappy with the late execution, James and Davis deserve plenty of credit.
The former finished with 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds while directing the offense as a de facto point guard in crunch time. He scored his team's first basket in overtime and then drew multiple defenders before finding Davis for two critical three-pointers to help secure the win.
Davis stuffed the stat sheet as well with 33 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks for a Lakers squad that is now a Western Conference-best 41-12 on the season.
Still, Denver had an opportunity to win.
A Jamal Murray three-pointer and Gary Harris jumper gave the home team a six-point lead with less than five minutes remaining, but defensive breakdowns allowed the Lakers to answer with a quick 6-0 run to set up the back-and-forth finish to regulation. James even had a clean look from mid-range to win the game in the fourth quarter, but it just rimmed out.
From there, Denver didn't score in the final three minutes of overtime. Nikola Jokic forced the issue multiple times and committed a key turnover instead of pulling the trigger when he had an open look, and the James and Davis combination was enough for Los Angeles to pull ahead for good.
Denver will try to play more "Nugget-like" when it returns to the court after the All-Star break on Friday, Feb. 21 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.