The Los Angeles Lakers, who had lost seven consecutive games to the Denver Nuggets, came into the Pepsi Center and cruised by Denver to end their losing streak. The Lakers won 111-103, but the score did not indicate how lopsided this game really was.
Kobe Bryant led the way for the Lakers, as he recorded a triple-double, his second of the year. Bryant finished with 23 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting from the field. Unfortunately, he had nine turnovers as well.
The Lakers came out sizzling hot in the first quarter, shooting 66.7 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from three. They took an early lead of 12, but the Nuggets crawled back into it and cut the deficit to four to end the quarter.
However, the Lakers continued their hot shooting in the second quarter and pushed their lead to 20 at one point before ending the half with a 16-point advantage. The Lakers were adequately moving the ball around. They had 19 assists on 25 made shots in the first half and finished with 31 assists on 40 made shots.
The Nuggets were choosing to throw hard double teams on Kobe, but Bryant was doing a great job of getting rid of the ball before the double could come, while his teammates were doing a phenomenal job of moving and hitting wide open shots.
Denver struggled from the field in the first half, shooting just 37.2 percent. They were missing some quality looks from beyond the arc. In addition to Denver’s miserable shooting, they lost Wilson Chandler for the second half, as he did not return to the game due to a knee contusion.
The Lakers’ domination resumed in the third period, as they expanded the lead to 23, their largest of the game. But the Nuggets were able to reduce the lead to 12 to end the third.
The Nuggets made a late spurt in this game, as they cut L.A.’s lead down to five with 4:03 remaining in regulation, but that was the closest they would get. The Lakers were able to hold on to their lead and win.
Aside from Kobe, a bevy of other Lakers had solid games. Carlos Boozer put in 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench on 8-of-14 shooting. Ronnie Price scored a season-high 18 points and dished out four assists. Wesley Johnson poured in 16 points and hit 4-for-7 from downtown, while Jordan Hill quietly put in 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Wayne Ellington also had a pleasant game, finishing with eight points and four assists. Nick Young was the only one who struggled, as he only put in four points on 2-of-7 shooting.
Byron Scott continued to limit Kobe’s minutes, as Bryant registered 32 minutes for the second straight time. The minute’s restriction seems to be working since Kobe seems energized late in games.
Ed Davis sustained a broken nose in this game when he was hit in the face by Nate Robinson, but he played through it.
For Denver, Ty Lawson and Jusuf Nurkic led the way with 16 apiece. Lawson also added nine assists and four rebounds. Timofey Mozgov and Arron Afflalo had 11 points each, while Robinson chipped in with 13 points and six assists off the bench.
The Lakers played a well-rounded game, with exquisite ball movement and player movement. The only negative they will take away from this game was the turnovers, as they committed 20 miscues. Denver only had 11.
After the game, Kobe Bryant discussed his big night. “I’ve got to evolve, focus more on the all-around stuff and setting up guys,” Bryant said. “I just don’t have the legs to be in aggressive mode to score the ball for 48 minutes or whatever the case may be. I’m a natural scorer, but it doesn’t mean I can’t evolve,” Bryant added.
“It’s about damn time he shot the ball,” Bryant jokingly said about Ronnie Price. “I sit out and he makes everything under the sun in Golden State.”
“Move the ball and you get open shots,” Jeremy Lin added.
The Lakers, who also ended their three-game skid, improve to 10-22, while the Nuggets drop to 13-19.
The Nuggets will head to Chicago for their next game to play host to the Bulls on New Year’s Day. The Lakers will look to continue their fine play at home on Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies.