GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Denver Nuggets 23 22 26 18 89
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 22 24 23 23 92


Bynum returns, leads Lakers over Nuggets

By Associated Press

Posted Dec 31 2011 3:31PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Andrew Bynum had 29 points and 13 rebounds in his season debut following a four-game suspension that carried over from the playoffs, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 92-89 Saturday.

Bynum shot 13 for 18, helping the Lakers win their third straight following the team's first 0-2 start since 2002-03.

The 7-foot center was suspended without pay for the first four games of the season because of a flagrant foul against Dallas' J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The original ban was five games, but was reduced on Dec. 23 as a result of a shortened schedule caused by the NBA lockout.

Bynum totaled 41 points and 23 rebounds in two preseason games against the Clippers.

Kobe Bryant, bogged down by foul trouble, had 17 points along with nine assists and 10 rebounds. The Lakers overcame 2-for-24 shooting from 3-point range.

Reserve forward Al Harrington had 21 points for the Nuggets, who have lost 25 of their last 29 road games against the Lakers.

The Lakers missed their first 12 shots from 3-point range - all of them in the first half - before Matt Barnes connected with 11:11 left in the third to put Los Angeles ahead 49-47. The Nuggets weren't much better from behind the arc, missing nine of their first 10 before finishing up 7 for 26.

Trailing 71-69 after three quarters, the Lakers tied it four times before Harrington's 3-pointer gave Denver an 85-80 lead with 5:29 to play. Bynum guided in a pass above the rim from Bryant and converted the ensuing free throw to narrow the gap to 89-87 with 3:23 left.

Derek Fisher, who fouled out with six points in his 500th consecutive game, missed a 3-point shot trying to beat the 24-second clock - but hustled all the way to the other side of the court to fall on the loose ball and get a timeout with 2:29 remaining and the Lakers still down by two.

Bryant tied it 89-all with a pair of free throws and Bynum blocked a layup by Nene with 2 minutes left before converting a layup at the other end for a 91-89 lead with 1:50 to go.

The Nuggets had a few opportunities to pull it out. But Gasol blocked a layup by Ty Lawson, who then missed two free throws the next time the Nuggets had possession. Danilo Gallinari had a chance to tie it, but blew an easy fast-break layup after a missed jumper by Bryant at the other end.

Bynum made four of his first five shots and finished the first quarter with 10 points. Bryant, who averaged 27.8 points through the first four games despite playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist, missed his first three shots and played more than 14 scoreless minutes before ending the drought on a floater that put the Lakers ahead 38-36 with 3:40 left in the second quarter.

Notes: The Lakers have played six times on New Year's Eve since coming to Los Angeles - all at home (5-1). Their rematch with the Nuggets on Sunday night will mark the first time the Lakers have played on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in the same season since 1959-60, when the franchise was based in Minneapolis. ... Bryant needs four points to become the sixth player in history to surpass 28,000. ... Fisher's consecutive-game streak is the NBA's longest active streak. Former Lakers forward A.C. Green, a teammate of Fisher's during the 1999-00 season, holds the league record with 1,192 in a row. "That's what's so amazing about what he was able to accomplish - especially as a big guy out there banging with the best of them," the 37-year-old Fisher said. "For him to be able to have done what it took mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically to be prepared to go to work every single day for all those seasons was a big-time example for me. It's not like I'm chasing any type of number, but I just try to bring the same mentality to work, whether it's 500 or 1,000."

Copyright 2011 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





View More Photos


Points Bynum 29, 13-18 FG
Rebounds Bynum 13, 6 OFF 7 DEF
Assists Bryant 9
Steals 6 Tied with 1
Blocks Bynum 2


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:
On team’s performance:

“I commend my guys for trying to play the game the right way in terms of getting stops and grinding it out. It was ugly but our guys figured a way to get it done.”

On Derek Fisher getting 50-50 ball:

“I don’t know how he got it, he was so far from it, but he got it. Then he had the presence of mind to take a timeout. But coming up with those 50-50 balls and not giving up on a play like that, that signifies a very good basketball team.”

On Andrew Bynum’s game:

“He’s had a good training camp and he’s a big fella that’s extremely skilled and he’s got some athleticism. He just knows how to play the game.”



Kobe Bryant:
On today’s game:

“We play hard-nose basketball around here. It’s going to get ugly sometimes.”

On Andrew Bynum’s return:

“He’s ready, he’s very well prepared. Watching for a few games, and through training camps, and stuff like that, he knew exactly his spots on the floor.”

On Derek Fisher’s hustle play:

“That’s Derek, that’s how you win championships, by making plays like that.”




Steve Blake:
On blocking Danilo Gallinari’s lay- up:

“Yeah, I was in the deep corner, opposite of him and the shot went up, and I saw him contest and take off, so I just took off too. I just happened to get there in time to maybe change his shot just a little bit…I didn’t want to foul him because I figured if he makes it and I foul him and he gets the free throw we could lose the game. So, I just wanted to get in front of him, make him see me, and just try to make him change his shot.”




Andrew Bynum:
On his first game back:

“They’re looking for me a lot and I’m a focal point early in the offense and obviously late Kobe takes over. So you figure out who is on the court at the end of the day. I was winded like crazy today. First game… I couldn’t breathe in the first six minutes. It’s only going to be a little bit worse tomorrow because of the altitude. I think I’m going to do well again, coming in, get low, and try to go to work with the ball defensively.”

On Mike Brown’s coaching style::

“That’s the biggest difference. I like it so far. He’s definitely a lot more in our zone and he’s coaching. That’s what I need coming out of high school, you know, where you get too much coaching people expect you to know things but he slows it down a beat and lets you know.”




George Karl:
On Andrew Bynum’s size:

“His power around the basket --- we haven’t seen it yet. We’ll have to make some adjustments on him --- there’s no question. They hurt us rebounding the ball and they hurt us with Bynum’s power underneath the basket.”

On Lakers’ defense:

“They’re very good at playing an aggressive style of disrupting and guys coming at you in pick and rolls. I think we got a lot of shots off early, but as the game went on, we didn’t get as many shots. I thought in the first half we had a lot of open shots we didn’t make. Our offensive confidence is a little short now --- we’re not making shots and we kind of have to build our confidence to get the momentum going the right way.”

On team not being able to capitalize in final minutes:

“We get three layups and a couple free throws in the last three minutes of the game and we miss all of them. I thought we made enough stops in the fourth quarter, but we didn’t rebound the first shot. We gave them too much hope because of that --- from Bynum and that loose ball from Fisher --- and we never got that defensive confidence because we didn’t rebound the ball.”




Ty Lawson:
On the end of the game:

“It’s tough man we really should have won that game. It’s on us. I missed two free throws and there’s a lot of things down the stretch we could have done better.”

On the loss:

“We played terrible and were still in the game against one of the best teams in the league. Like I said, we knock down a few more shots with a little more practice and we’ll be one of the top teams in the league.”




Arron Afflalo:
On defending Kobe Bryant:

“It’s a team effort. Some time he makes shots sometimes he doesn’t. It’s kind of hard for one player to take credit trying to stop him. He did a good job facilitating for his team tonight. It’s good competitiveness. To make your stamp on the defensive end is always fun.”

On being out rebounded by 14:

“They’re a huge team. I did a poor job rebounding today. I think the guards need to do a better job rebounding, but they’re a huge team and they take advantage of their size.”




Nene:
On the loss:

“It was a great game. I think we played better but they won. We had bad luck in the last two minutes. This game only one game, we still have two more against the same team.”

On making adjustments before tomorrow’s game:

“I think the adjustment is going to be the altitude. We have young players and we’re going to try and push the tempo.”






Nuggets-Lakers Preview

By JUSTIN EINHORN

Posted Dec 30 2011 12:04PM

The Los Angeles Lakers already may be getting the hang of new coach Mike Brown's defensive-minded system. Having Andrew Bynum back could make them even tougher at that end of the floor.

Bynum returns from suspension to make his season debut Saturday in the opener of a home-and-home series with the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.

The league banned Bynum for five games - later reduced to four due to the lockout-shortened 66-game season - for knocking down Dallas' J.J. Barea in the second round of the playoffs. Bynum is coming off a fairly pedestrian season with 11.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, though both averages went up in the playoffs and he looked strong in two preseason games with 41 points and 23 boards.

The 7-footer should play a key role in Brown's defense, having finished sixth in the NBA last season with 2.0 blocks per game.

Los Angeles (2-2) got off to a shaky start without him, losing to Chicago and Sacramento, but has bounced back to beat Utah and New York. The Lakers held those two opponents to averages of 76.5 points and 31.8 percent from the field.

"It's just communication, activity, understanding where we need to be when certain situations come up," forward Pau Gasol said of the improved defense. "It's just being active and continuously working."

Gasol ranks among the league leaders with 2.5 blocks per game and is averaging a team-high 9.0 rebounds along with 16.8 points.

Kobe Bryant has gotten off to a strong start despite the team playing its first four games in five nights. He's scored at least 26 points in each despite playing with a torn wrist ligament.

"Kobe be lying. Kobe ain't hurt," New York's Carmelo Anthony said with a laugh after a 99-82 loss to the Lakers on Thursday.

Bryant helped hold New York's starting backcourt to 4 of 15 from the field. The eight-time member of the NBA's All-Defensive first team has chipped in six steals this season.

"Everybody has a job, everybody has assignments," Bryant said of the defensive system. "You can hold everyone accountable in terms of where the mistakes are being made and who's making them. From that standpoint, everybody has a responsibility to one another to protect each other."

The Lakers haven't done so well on defense against Denver (2-1) recently. The Nuggets have averaged 104.0 points while going 5-2 in this series since losing to Los Angeles in the 2009 Western Conference finals. They even won the only meeting since trading Anthony to New York, 95-90 at Staples Center on April 3.

Denver has been getting worse on defense with each game this season, culminating with a 111-102 defeat at Portland on Thursday as the Blazers made 51.9 percent from the floor. The Nuggets had won their first two games, holding Dallas to 93 points and 42.1 percent shooting before letting Utah score 100 and hit 48.1 percent. However, the Nuggets have forced at least 20 turnovers in each game and are averaging a league-best 16.0 steals.

Another area, though, in which Denver has dropped off is 3-point shooting, going 4 for 20 on Thursday.

"We had a lot of open shots and we didn't knock them down - simple as that," said Ty Lawson, who had 25 points and eight assists.

Danilo Gallinari missed all five of his 3-point tries and is 2 for 12 this season.

These teams also square off Sunday in Denver. The Lakers have lost the last three meetings in which Bryant has scored more than 20 points.



Copyright 2011 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

Probable Starters
  Lakers    
  #3 Ebanks SF #8 Gallinari  
  #16 Gasol PF #31 Nene  
  #17 Bynum C #25 Mozgov  
  #24 Bryant SG #6 Afflalo  
  #2 Fisher PG #3 Lawson  



Lakers Kobe Bryant
(torn lunotriquetral ligament, right wrist) is probable.
Matt Barnes
(bursitis, left hip) is probable.
Derrick Caracter
(torn lateral meniscus, left knee) is out.
Pau Gasol
(sprained right shoulder) is probable.
Josh McRoberts
(sprained left big toe and left thumb) is probable.

N/A



Game 1: 12/31 - DEN @ LAL
Game 2: 01/01 - LAL @ DEN
Game 2: 02/03 - LAL @ DEN
Game 2: 04/13 - DEN @ LAL


GAME NOTES

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers dropped last season’s series with Denver (1-2) after losing the 2009-10 series (1-3) as well, marking only the second time the Lakers have lost consecutive season series to the Nuggets (1977-78, 1978-79). The two teams have met 146 times in the regular season with the Lakers leading the all-time series 95-51. The Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 regular season meetings with the Nuggets. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 18-4 against the Nuggets all-time (7-3 in their last 10). In Denver, the Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 road games at Pepsi Center but snapped a four-game losing streak in their most recent visit on January 21, 2011 (107-97), posting their first regular season victory there since November of 2008. In the postseason, the Lakers and Nuggets have met five times with the Lakers advancing on each occasion, most recently defeating Denver 4-2 in the 2009 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers are 17-4 overall against the Nuggets in postseason games (9-2 home, 8-2 road). Additionally, the Lakers won 11 straight playoff games against the Nuggets from 5/17/85 – 5/19/09, the 2nd longest postseason win streak against one team in NBA history behind the Lakers 12-game win streak versus Seattle from 1980-89. In 53 career regular season games including 44 starts against the Nuggets, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.5 points. Bryant established the series record for points in a game (51) in February of 2003 but was tied by Allen Iverson in 2007-08 when he scored 51 points in the Lakers 111-107 victory at Pepsi Center on December 14, 2007. Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo attended high school locally at Compton Centennial and played collegiately at UCLA while Denver guard Rudy Fernandez played for Spain internationally along with Pau Gasol. Fernandez was on the 2008 Olympic silver medal team with Gasol while both also played together on the gold medal winning Spanish 2006 FIBA World Championships team. Nuggets head coach George Karl (senior) and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak (freshman) played one season together at the University of North Carolina (1972-73).


BRYANT 49 POINTS SHY OF 28,000 FOR HIS CAREER
With 28 points December 29th vs. New York, Kobe Bryant (27,979) moved to within 21 points of 28,000 for his career. Bryant, the youngest player in league history to score 23,000 – 27,000 points, will be 33 years, 130 days old on Saturday, December 31 when the Lakers face Denver. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, currently the youngest player to score 28,000 points in league history, reached the milestone back on April 13, 1982 when he was 34 years, 363 days of age. Wilt Chamberlain (34 years, 109 days), Michael Jordan (34 years, 333 days), the only guard in NBA history to score 28,000 points, Karl Malone (35 years, 212 days) and Shaquille O’Neal (37 years, 319 days) round out the top five. Additionally, in reaching 28,000 points, Bryant (1,107 games played thru 12/29/11) would become just the 6th player in NBA history to do so and should become the 5th fastest in terms of games. Chamberlain was the fastest to reach 28,000, doing so in 825 games, followed by Jordan (886), Kareem Abdul- Jabbar (1,008), Karl Malone (1,070) and Shaquille O’Neal (1,154).

Last season, Bryant reached the 27,000 point milestone with his 28th point January 30 vs. Boston. In doing so, Bryant became the youngest to 27,000 points in NBA history (32 years, 160 days), surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (32 years, 202 days) who reached the milestone back on March 11, 1969. Additionally, Bryant became the 8th player in NBA history to score 27,000 points and the 5th fastest to do so (1,069) in terms of games. Chamberlain was the fastest to reach 27,000, doing so in 780 games, followed by Jordan (852), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (965) and Karl Malone (1,035). The youngest player in league history to accumulate 18,000 – 20,000 and 23,000 – 27,000 points, Bryant was the 16th fastest to 18,000, 15th fastest to 19,000, 15th fastest to 20,000, 12th fastest to 21,000, 12th fastest to 22,000, 11th fastest to 23,000, 9th fastest to 24,000, 9th fastest to 25,000, 8th fastest to 26,000 points and 5th fastest to 27,000 points in terms of games.


LAKERS REMARKABLE DEFENSIVE EFFORT
A game after holding the Jazz to just 32.2 percent shooting from the field in a 96-71 victory on December 27th, the Lakers held the Knicks to just 31.3 percent shooting from the field in a 99-82 victory at STAPLES Center. In doing so, it marks the first time that the Lakers have held their opponents to making less than one-third of their field-goal attempts in consecutive games since the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960. The last time that the Lakers did such a thing came in November of 1959 when they held the Pistons to 28.6 percent shooting and then, in their next game, limited the Cincinnati Royals to 31.3 percent shooting from the field.*


FISHER TO PLAY IN 500th STRAIGHT GAME
Entering the Lakers December 31st contest with Denver, Derek Fisher has played in 499 consecutive regular season games dating back to April 15, 2005, the longest consecutive games streak among all active NBA players. Fisher moved into the top position after Portland’s Andre Miller (632) missed the Blazers game against Phoenix (12/7/10) due to NBA suspension. Additionally, Fisher has started 377 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season’s worth of games. Former Laker A.C. Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192 dating from 11/19/86 – 4/18/01 while a member of the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.


BRYANT NEARING SHAQUILLE O’NEAL FOR 5th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Last season, Kobe Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Moses Malone (27,409) 3/8/11 at Atlanta, Elvin Hayes (27,313) 2/27/11 at Oklahoma City, Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28/11 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7/11 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4/11 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10/10 at Chicago on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant (27,951) are Shaquille O’Neal (5th/28,596), Wilt Chamberlain (4th/31,419), Michael Jordan (3rd/32,292), Karl Malone (2nd/36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st/38,387). Among the top six scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform. Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. In 2009-10, he passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West’s retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).






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