LOS ANGELES — The best wines are stored away, left to become fermented and complex, and dusted off at just the right time.
Perhaps there was something to that for Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews on Monday night, playing the most minutes they’ve seen in weeks, but surely they’d like a little more time off the shelf.
The veterans helped galvanize a fourth-quarter run that turned a challenging on-paper matchup against the MVP favorite and his Denver Nuggets into a rousing success for the Lakers. Without LeBron James and Dennis Schröder, the Lakers still found a way to hold off the visitors, 93-89, despite Nikola Jokic’s 32 points in a rematch of last fall’s Western Conference finals on Monday night at Staples Center.
It was also a big step up for Anthony Davis (25 points), after two weeks of tentative play since his return from a right calf strain that cost him two months. Charging toward the rim more with an eye to finish, Davis looked aggressive and scored a decisive basket with 41.8 seconds left to give the Lakers a four-point lead.
And while Davis authored Denver heartbreak with a 3-pointer once upon a time, on Monday night it was with a blocked shot – he swatted pint-size Nuggets point guard Facu Campazzo’s long 3-point attempt with 7.5 seconds left and recovered it to keep them from having a chance to even the odds.
The Lakers, who led by…