Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon’s wild dunk over LeBron James shouldn’t have counted

The Nuggets rolled past the Lakers 119-107 after their ring ceremony to celebrate last year's championship in Denver

Denver Nuggets big man Aaron Gordon threw down a wild dunk on a lob from Jamal Murray in their season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

It shouldn’t have counted.

Midway through the third quarter at Ball Arena in Denver, Murray caught a pass on the left wing during a fast break. After one dribble, he lobbed the ball up for Gordon — who caught it with one hand and threw it down over LeBron James.

Immediately, James knew something was off. He started motioning to officials looking for a call, but it never came. Play continued on as if nothing had happened.

A closer look at the dunk, however, clearly showed that Gordon’s right hand had grabbed the rim ahead of time.

That’s a clear violation, as a player can’t “assist himself in an attempt to score by using any part of the rim … to lift, hold or raise himself.”

But officials missed it in the moment, and the dunk stood.

"It was a bad pass. It was a really bad pass," Murray said postgame. "I was thinking about putting it on myself at the time it was moving up."

Aaron Gordon threw down a wild dunk on Tuesday night, but officials clearly missed a call that would have voided it.
Aaron Gordon threw down a wild dunk Tuesday night, but officials clearly missed a call that would have voided it. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

In the end, the missed call didn’t matter much. The Nuggets held on after the Lakers mounted a bit of a push in the fourth quarter and cruised to the 119-107 win, which came after their ring ceremony to celebrate the title they won in June. Nikola Jokić had a triple-double with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, and Murray had 21 points and six assists. Gordon finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. The Nuggets have now won six straight games over the Lakers, including their four-game sweep in the Western Conference finals last season.

James dropped 21 points and eight rebounds in the loss for the Lakers, who opened last season losing five straight and 10 of their first 12 games. Taurean Prince added 18 points, and Anthony Davis finished with 17 points (all in the first half) and eight rebounds.

The Nuggets will be back in action Friday in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The Lakers will host the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, which will be James' first regular-season game against Kevin Durant since Christmas Day 2018.