By MICHAEL KELLY – Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Malik Monk had a career-best 41 points and Austin Reaves set career highs with 31 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 146-141 victory in overtime over the Denver on Sunday night Nuggets in what may have been Frank Vogel’s last game as coach.
ESPN reported after the game that Vogel, who led the team to the 2020 title in the Orlando bubble, will be fired as early as Monday.
“My reaction is that I wasn’t told anything and I’m going to enjoy the game tonight,” Vogel said when asked about the report. “Celebrate what these young lads have done in terms of scraping and scratching and get back into this game. We take care of tomorrow tomorrow.”
Monk said he has Vogel to thank for being on the team this season.
“He gave me a chance,” Monk said. “This was the only team that called me in the offseason. I can’t say anything bad about him. All credits to him. Without him I wouldn’t have had a chance to play basketball. I probably wouldn’t be here, so kudos to Frank.”
People also read…
Three MVPs and five All-Stars were inactive for a game that meant little. Los Angeles was eliminated from the play-in tournament on Tuesday, and the Nuggets secured a playoff berth on Thursday. Denver is the sixth seed in the Western Conference and plays Golden State in the first round.
“This is real basketball,” Denver’s DeMarcus Cousins said. “This is where talent has to come out. The regular season is one thing, you have to assert yourself somehow to get through it and be successful.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone seeded four of his five starters, including MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, despite Denver having a chance to win the Northwest Division and move up to fifth place. That bid ended with Utah’s victory in Portland.
“The season is over, nobody got hurt tonight,” Malone said. “We will focus on moving forward and preparing for the Golden State.”
Markus Howard had a career-high 25 points and Bryn Forbes scored 24 for the Nuggets.
The Lakers seeded LeBron James (ankle), Anthony Davis (right foot), Carmelo Anthony (non-COVID illness), Russell Westbrook (right shoulder) and Dwight Howard. Vogel said James didn’t make the trip because he was supposed to have an MRI on his right ankle.
James, Davis and Westbrook have only played 21 games together this season.
Denver led by as much as 17 points in the fourth, but Reaves scored five in the final 17 seconds to send it into overtime. Reaves put the Lakers ahead 139-17 with a turnaround jump with 1:40 to go, then made it a five-point game with a 3-point play in the last minute.
“Great experience for the guys that were out there,” Malone said. “Obviously a disappointing fourth quarter. Played no defense, lost 40 points.”
Lakers: Wenyen Gabriel had 14 points and 10 rebounds. … Mac McClung was activated from the G-League squad and scored nine points. The rookie had only played in one other game, on December 29 when he was with the Chicago Bulls.
Nuggets: Jokic was listed out with a wrist injury, while Aaron Gordon (left hamstring management), Monte Morris (left elbow pain) and Will Barton (right knee pain) also wore street clothes. … Seven players scored in double figures. Cousins had 17 points and nine rebounds. …Facu Campazzo got a flagrant 2 in the second quarter and was thrown out.
Lakers: Go to what is likely to be a busy off-season.
Nuggets: Open the first round of the playoffs at the Warriors on Saturday night.
More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.