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Talen Horton-Tucker (5) of the Los ...
AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
Talen Horton-Tucker (5) of the Los Angeles Lakers works against Bryn Forbes (6) of the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter on Sunday, April 10, 2022.

Austin Reaves treated Ball Arena like his personal practice gym as the Lakers stormed back and stunned the Nuggets late Sunday night in overtime.

The Nuggets blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead, then couldn’t muster any offense in overtime, falling 146-141 to the Lakers.

“Very disappointing fourth quarter, played no defense, gave up 40 points,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, whose postgame press conference ended in 58 seconds. “… But the season’s over. No one got hurt tonight and we’re focused on moving forward and preparing for Golden State.”

The only solace to be taken among the loud Lakers cheers was that the result ultimately didn’t matter. As the Lakers’ season ended, the Nuggets’ second season was just beginning.

By virtue of Utah’s win over Portland, and Golden State’s victory over New Orleans, the No. 6 Nuggets were locked into a first-round matchup against the No. 3 Warriors.

That series will start in San Francisco on Saturday night.

Back in Denver, Nikola Jokic observed Sunday’s proceedings sporting a blue suit with loafers from the Nuggets’ bench. Officially listed as out with wrist soreness, Jokic was joined on the bench by Will Barton (knee), Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and Monte Morris (elbow) as starters who got the night off.

But it was an undeniably sour ending to Denver’s regular season, which ended at 48-34. The look of disgust on Malone’s face throughout the overtime was unmistakable.

Reaves finished the game with a 31-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist triple-double, and Malik Monk poured in 41.

Among those who did play, Jeff Green scored 16, DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points and nine rebounds, and Bryn Forbes knocked down five 3-pointers en route to 24 points.

“No loss is fun,” Forbes said. “But also, bigger picture.”

Without LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook active, the Lakers still managed to upend the Nuggets. Markus Howard’s 14-point fourth-quarter onslaught momentarily gave the Nuggets some life. He finished the night with 25 points.

The other downside of the night came several minutes into the second quarter when Facu Campazzo was ejected after shoving Wayne Ellington during a scramble for a rebound. It was an unceremonious end to a frustrating regular season for the team’s third-string point guard.

Bones Hyland was a two-way menace throughout the third. He registered three blocks to help engineer a 22-11 run to start the third, then bolstered the lead with a handful of buckets. The Nuggets extended their lead to double-digits, going deep into their bench with guys like Zeke Nnaji, Vlatko Cancar and Howard. The 39-point quarter propelled the Nuggets to a 108-95 lead going into the fourth.

It was Nnaji’s first game since March 9 due to bilateral knee soreness, and it was Cancar’s first since Jan. 3 when he suffered a foot fracture. Both had encouraging moments, topped by Cancar’s no-look, fastbreak pass to JaMychal Green for a dunk late in the third.

Though unlikely to be staples of the playoff rotation, it’s at least comforting that they’d returned from injury in time for the first round.

Malone spent at least 10 minutes with Jamal Murray at the end of Saturday’s practice checking in and evaluating his star guard.

“One thing I told him, because you guys are in there, you see him out there dunking the ball, and I’m sure you guys are probably saying, ‘Well, he looks really good,’” Malone said. “… There’s gonna be no rush, there’s gonna be no pressure. That continues to this day.

“‘Hey Jamal, if you want to play, you wanna go out there and play a couple of minutes in a game where there’s no huge implications (vs. Los Angeles), great,” Malone continued. “If you’re not ready to do so, great.’ I owe that to him, and I think he appreciates the honesty and transparency that he’s gotten from me and Tim Connelly all the way through. Obviously, he’s not there yet. That’s a really big mental hurdle to make. It’s just one where he has good days, and he has other days that are not as good, and that’s been very challenging for him mentally.”

Murray and the Nuggets will have nearly a week to re-evaluate his status before the postseason begins.

But first, they needed to play out the end of the regular season against the lowly Lakers. Sunday’s game was tied at 69 going into halftime. The Nuggets were hardly polished, and defense was mostly an afterthought.

Jeff Green (12 points), Forbes (11) and Cousins (10) paced the offense with most of their damage coming from the paint. It was such a laidback affair that the wave started midway through the first half.

Typically locked in and engaged, Malone even shook hands with a courtside fan during game play.

The dual reviews associated with Campazzo’s ejection and a Stanley Johnson flagrant foul may have inadvertently bought the Nuggets a few precious minutes of real time. As such, they were the last of the relevant games to enter halftime.