Lakers Gameday | 11/01/08 | Lakers 104, Nuggets 97
Western Conference Standing : 1
Northwest Division Standing : 1
Western Conference Standing : 9
Northwest Division Standing : 4
|Injury Report||Injury Report|
---Francisco Gomez, Lakers.com
|Los Angeles Lakers||Denver Nuggets|
Kobe scores 33 in Lakers' win over Nuggets
DENVER(AP) This was not exactly the new look Carmelo Anthony was talking about.
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and the Los Angeles Lakers nearly became the first team in three years to hold Anthony to single digits in a 104-97 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Anthony, who declared last month, "You will see a different me,'' this season thanks to a focus on defense, finally found his rhythm in the fourth quarter, but that's when Bryant scored 14 points to fend off the fatigued Nuggets.
"We were stuck in the mud, and it's my responsibility to get it going,'' Bryant said.
It was the Nuggets who looked like they were stuck in quicksand by game's end. They had gotten in late following an overtime win over the Clippers at the Staples Center - a game the well-rested Lakers watched from their Denver hotel rooms Friday night.
"I guess they were a little bit tired,'' Pau Gasol said.
And 'Melo was more than a little bit rusty.
Coming off a two-game suspension, Anthony scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. He made two 3-pointers with under a minute left to extend his NBA-best streak of consecutive games in double figures to 208.
"I was a little rusty out there,'' Anthony said. "Good to get that one game under my belt.''
Anthony, who ditched his trademark cornrows for a close-cropped cut, was held to a single bucket until sinking consecutive baskets to help the Nuggets slice it to 93-91 with 4 minutes left. He fired up an airball from beyond the arc on Denver's next possession, and Bryant responded with a basket at the other end to make it 95-91.
Denver (1-2) never got closer as the Lakers, who trailed most of the game before taking control in the fourth quarter, improved to 3-0.
"I'm not going to worry about the offensive game for myself. I can do that with my eyes closed,'' Anthony said. "I'm not really worrying about that; that will come around.''
Anthony Carter scored 20 points to lead the Nuggets, who also got 18 points from Kenyon Martin before he departed in the second half with a pulled left hamstring.
Anthony hasn't been held below 10 points since Nov. 28, 2005, when he played just 1 1/2 minutes against New Jersey before leaving with a sprained ankle after scoring just two points.
His franchise-record streak makes him the most consistent offensive player in the NBA since 2005, and it's 90 games longer than second-place LeBron James' 118-game streak.
The Nuggets have been focusing on defense since camp started, and they limited the Lakers to 38 percent shooting, but now it's the offense, of all things, that the Nuggets are struggling with. That, and offensive boards. They had just three of them against Los Angeles, only one by a starter.
"There are some things we need to work on. I think we forgot that we're a scoring basketball team, a running basketball team,'' Anthony said. "We spent so much time on defense in training camp, which is not a bad thing. It's going to take time on the offensive end to get clicking.''
Anthony, who sat out the first two games of the season as punishment for his April 14 arrest on a drunken driving charge, was scoreless in the first half. He did, however, have a nifty assist on Carter's 3-pointer that ignited a 14-7 run that gave Denver a 52-46 halftime lead.
Anthony's first shot to fall was a 17-foot jumper with 9:39 left in the third quarter.
"There was one point in time in the third quarter I was like, 'OK, nothing's going to go in for me today.' I tried to get my teammates involved, trying to get guys open shots, play defense because I knew on the offensive end it wasn't clicking,'' Anthony said.
"I haven't had that feeling for a long time. I tell you what, I won't have it again. I'll tell you that.''
Notes: Martin is day to day with the first hamstring injury of his career. ... The Lakers have beaten Denver eight straight times.
Copyright 2008 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
by Mike Trudell, Lakers.com
While in Denver, local sports broadcaster Chris Lewis - who spent four years in Orlando covering the Magic - joined us to break down the Denver Nuggets.
Chris and I talked about the differences in expectations from last season for the Nugs, looked into why defense in Denver is like snow in South Beach and examined Saturday's home opener/Carmelo Anthony's season debut against the Lakers.
By MATT BEARDMORE, STATS Writer
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers have already caused plenty of headaches for opponents this season.
The Denver Nuggets nearly felt their second migraine of the season on Friday.
When these Western Conference foes meet at the Pepsi Center on Saturday night, Bryant and what could be the most balanced team of his career face a Nuggets squad looking forward to the return of high-scoring Carmelo Anthony.
As expected, Bryant leads the Lakers (2-0) with 19.5 points per game - but with Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Trevor Ariza, Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum also scoring in double figures, the defending Western Conference champions have, somewhat unexpectedly, coasted past Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers by an average of 29 points.
"I'm surprised (by the scoring margin),'' Bryant said following Tuesday's 96-76 opening-night victory over the Trail Blazers.
After Wednesday's 117-79 dismantling of the Clippers, so was his Hall of Fame coach.
"We have to say it's a surprise, (but) our team is playing at a high level,'' Phil Jackson said. "Our next game is on the road (at Denver), so it's a team that has a lot of animosity I'm sure from last year's playoffs. We'll see how we do when we go to their place.''
If last season is any indication, the Lakers will be fine. They went 7-0 against the Nuggets in 2007-08, including three wins in Denver. Los Angeles defeated the host Nuggets 111-107 on Dec. 5, 2007, despite 51 points from Allen Iverson, then won Games 3 and 4 in Denver as it swept the first-round playoff series.
On Thursday, the Lakers took a step toward ensuring future success by signing Bynum to a four-year, $57.4 million deal.
"This has been a fantastic week for me so far: turning 21 (on Monday), winning our first two games of the season, and now getting this new contract signed,'' Bynum said. "This gives me and my family financial security, and more importantly, cements my future with the Lakers, which in my opinion is the best organization in all of professional sports. I couldn't be happier.''
Denver will be thrilled to get Anthony - and his 25.7 points and 7.4 rebounds from 2007-08 - back in the lineup after a two-game suspension due to an offseason DUI arrest.
The Nuggets needed Anthony's scoring in their 98-94 loss at Utah on Wednesday, and trailing 55-37 at the half on Friday against the Clippers, they could have used his offensive punch. But Iverson rallied Denver (1-1) with nine points in the final 3:35 of overtime as the Nuggets pulled out a 113-103 win and recorded the second-largest halftime comeback in team history.
"I've been struggling, as far as my offensive rhythm, and I was getting really frustrated,'' said Iverson, who finished with 25 and has scored a team-high 43 in Anthony's absence. "But I was trying not to be so tough on myself, being that I didn't get a chance to play as much as I wanted to in the preseason. I didn't have any time to waste with two games on the road. Fortunately, my rhythm came back at the right time.''
Nene had 22 points and 11 rebounds, J.R. Smith had 17 and 10, and Kenyon Martin added 13 points and 13 boards as Denver outrebounded the Clippers 60-50.
Prior to last season, the Nuggets had won five of the previous six regular-season matchups with the Lakers in Denver. Bryant has a career 32-11 regular-season record against the Nuggets, including 13-9 in Denver.
Lakers play against the Nuggets this Saturday at the Pepsi Center, Denver CO. Tip off at 6:00pm catch it live with TV: KCAL HD | Radio: AM 570 KLAC, ESPN 1330.
OPPONENTS UNDER 80
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Lakers swept last season’s series with the Nuggets 3-0 for the first time since
2002-03. This will be the teams’ 136th meeting with the Lakers leading the all-time series 90-45. The two teams also met in the First Round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs with the Lakers defeating Denver 4-0, improving to 13-2 against the Nuggets in postseason games and 4-0 in playoff series. The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 overall meetings with the Nuggets but have won their last three straight and are 23-11 against Denver since the 1999-00 season. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 15-2 against the Nuggets all-time and 9-1 in their last 10. In Denver, the Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 road games. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 21-9 versus Denver. In 43 career games including 34 starts against the Nuggets, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.1 points. Bryant established the series record for points in a game (51) in February of 2003 but was tied by Allen Iverson last season when he also scored 51 points in the Lakers 111-107 win at Pepsi Center on December 14, 2007. Last season, Bryant (2nd/28.3), Allen Iverson (3rd/26.4) and Carmelo Anthony (4th/25.7) finished second, third and fourth respectively among league leaders in scoring. Nuggets guard Chucky Atkins played one season with the Lakers in 2004-05, averaging 13.2 points and 4.4 assists in 35.4 minutes while shooting .387 from three-point range (176-455), coming up seven three-point field goals shy of Nick Van Exel’s single season franchise record of 183..