Denver Nuggets big man Aaron Gordon threw down a wild dunk off a lob from Jamal Murry in their season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
It shouldn’t have counted.
Midway through the third quarter of the game at Ball Arena in Denver, Murray intercepted a pass on the left wing during a fast break. After one dribble, he threw the ball up to Gordon, who caught it with one hand and threw it over LeBron James.
James knew immediately that something was wrong. He began waving to officers looking for a call, but it never came. The game continued as if nothing had happened.
However, a closer look at the dunk clearly showed that Gordon’s right hand had grabbed the rim prematurely.
This is a clear violation because a player “cannot support himself in an attempt to score a goal by using any part of the rim to lift, hold, or lift himself.”
But the officials missed it at the moment and the dunk stood.
In the end, the missed call didn’t matter much. The Nuggets held on after the Lakers applied some pressure in the fourth quarter, earning a 119-107 victory that came after their ring ceremony celebrating the title they won in June. Nikola Jokic had a triple-double with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists and Murray had 21 points and six assists. Gordon finished the game with 15 points and seven rebounds. The Nuggets have now won six straight games against the Lakers, including a four-game win in the Western Conference Finals last season.
James dropped 21 points and eight rebounds in the loss to the Lakers, who had lost five straight and lost 10 of their first 12 games last season. Taurean Prince added 18 points and Anthony Davis finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Nuggets will be back in action on Friday in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The Lakers next host the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, which will be James’ first regular season game against Kevin Durant since Christmas 2018.