L.A. Lakers 89, Denver 78
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 2 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant
may have seen his new man
in the middle emerge.
had a career-high 23 points with 12 rebounds while
Bryant scored 25 points to lead the revamped Los Angeles Lakers
to a 89-78 victory over the Denver Nuggets in the season opener
for both teams.
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One of the acquisitions in the trade of Gary Payton
Mihm is one of the handful of big men being asked to help fill
the void created by the trade of superstar center Shaquille O'Neal
The 7-footer jump-started Los Angeles in his debut with nine
points in the first six minutes and 19 in the first half,
helping the Lakers to a 50-31 lead.
Despite shooting just 5-of-14 from the floor, Bryant made
14-of-15 free throws and got his teammates involved with seven
assists. The new main man in Los Angeles also made his presence
felt on the defensive end with three blocked shots.
The Lakers never trailed, stretching their lead to as many as 23
points early in the third period.
Denver shot poorly in the first half, making just 11-of-44
shots. The Nuggets scored only four fast-break points after
leading the NBA with just under 20 a game last season.
The Nuggets cut the deficit to 58-48 with 5:24 left in the third
quarter with a 17-4 run fueled by Voshon Lenard
, who scored
seven of his 13 points during the run. Less than a minute later,
Lenard tore his left Achilles tendon, likely ending his season.
scored 20 points and Kenyon Martin
added 13 and
seven rebounds in his first game with Denver. Marcus Camby
grabbed 16 rebounds for the Nuggets.