The Los Angeles Lakers entered Monday's game with the Denver Nuggets tied for the sixth and seventh seeds in the Western Conference with the Portland Trail Blazers. A loss and a Blazers win would have dropped them into the play-in tournament for the moment.
Thankfully, some good luck went the Lakers' way.
The Trail Blazers lost to the Hawks in Atlanta, the Lakers beat the Nuggets 93-89 – without LeBron James – and because of that, the Lakers wake up Tuesday morning as the fifth seed, even ahead of the Dallas Mavericks.
Just a half-game separates them from the Mavericks, and one entire game separates them from the Trail Blazers, but for a team that had lost six out of seven games before Monday night, moving up in the standings feels great.
The Lakers got a nice boost off the bench from Marc Gasol, who hasn't been playing much. He had 10 points and seven rebounds and knows that for the Lakers to play well down the stretch, everyone has to be on board.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 25 points. It was Denver's lowest-scoring game in more than two years.
“I think we have to start thinking more as a team, instead of mentioning guys,” Gasol said. “It’s more who we are as a team and who we’re going to be, everyone tied to one another regardless of your situation. You play zero minutes, you play 20 minutes, the team success is everyone’s success.
“So, when you go out there, you try to do as best as possible to help the team, because if you help the team, more times than not, we’re going to win a lot of games. So, I think we have to kind of forget about the players and situations and individual guys and feel more as a whole of who we’re going to be as a team moving forward.”
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