Gameday: Nuggets 99, Lakers 90

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Nuggets 26 21 25 27 99
by Play
Los Angeles Lakers 21 15 35 19 90

Gallinari scores 20 as Nuggets beat Lakers, 99-90

By Associated Press

Posted Jan 02 2012 12:11AM

DENVER (AP) Kobe Bryant reached another career milestone in a mostly forgettable performance by the Los Angeles Lakers star.

Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points, Ty Lawson had 17 points and 10 assists and the Denver Nuggets beat the Lakers 99-90 on Sunday night.

The Nuggets scored the final 11 points and avenged a three-point loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles less than 24 hours earlier.

Bryant scored 16 points to become the sixth player in NBA history to score 28,000 career points. He is first among active players and is 584 points behind former teammate Shaquille O'Neal.

Reaching the benchmark came on a night when Bryant was 6 of 28 from the field and 1 of 8 from 3-point range.

"We were trying to be aggressive on him and trying to make him take some bad shots," said Gallinari, who spent much of the game defending Bryant. "When you play defense against him he can make some tough shots. But we did a pretty good job."

Bryant came into Sunday needing just four points short of 28,000 but he didn't get it until he hit a free throw with 10:43 left in the third quarter.

He had a rough start to the night and it never got better. Bryant missed his first five shots and committed two offensive fouls before sitting in the final minute of the first quarter. He returned midway through the second, hit a 3-pointer but missed his next four.

"We've got tough defenders," Lawson said. "Kobe's a great player, he probably had an off-night tonight, but, still, we played great defense."

"He looked tired. I'm glad we were putting pressure on him and making him take tough shots," he said.

After a seesaw battle for most of the final period, the Nuggets closed strong to win it.

Gallinari had two fast-break layups to give Denver a two-point lead with 2:07 left. After Pau Gasol missed a short turnaround jumper, Lawson's layup gave the Nuggets a 94-90 lead with 1:20 left.

"It was big," Lawson said. "Getting easy layups, making free throws and getting stops. We needed that, especially after the last game."

The Lakers could have used a strong night from Bryant to complement the play of the Lakers' post players. Gasol had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 16 rebounds, but it wasn't enough against Denver.

"I think fatigue had a lot to do with this loss because we weren't playing very smart," Bynum said.

Bryant missed a 3-pointer from the top of the circle near the end and Al Harrington hit a 12-foot jumper to make it 96-90 with 49 seconds left.

The Lakers took a 90-88 lead on Bryant's layup with 2:47 left and didn't score again.

"He's got to continue to find his stroke," Lakers coach Mike Brown said of Bryant. "I told the entire team that we shot too many jump shots. We've got to drive the ball or get the ball inside, one of the two. We didn't do a good job with either today."

The Nuggets held a 26-5 edge in fast-break points.

"I feel they have size at every position on the court and I feel we have speed at every position on the court," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "The only way I know to incorporate it into a strategy is try to play fast and quick."

Trailing by 11 at halftime, the Lakers came out strong in the third quarter. Bynum scored seven points in the first four minutes, including a three-point play that tied it at 50.

Denver didn't hit its first field goal of the second half until Lawson's drive gave the Nuggets the lead back with 7:03 left. Gallinari followed with Denver's first 3-pointer of the game to make it 55-50.

NOTES: Denver was 2 for 18 from 3-point range. ... The Lakers have played six games in the first eight days of the season, including three in three nights to open the schedule. ... Lawson has scored in double figures in four of Denver's first five games. ... Denver came into Sunday second in scoring in the NBA but 24th in 3-point shooting.

Copyright 2012 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 Gasol 20, 8-15 FG
Rebounds Bynum 16, 3 OFF 13 DEF
Assists Bryant/Fisher 4
Steals Fisher 2
Blocks Barnes 2


Mike Brown:
On tonights game:

“Give them the credit, they did a nice job of winning the basketball game. But in the same breath I thought our guys, it starts with me as a unit, I did not coach a good game and our players did not play a good game. Too many mental mistakes as a unit and we also at times didn’t bring the necessary sense of urgency that you have to have on the road. We were kind of going through the motions, going through the motions, going through the motions and then the crowd got behind Denver and they got layup after layup after layup because we couldn’t understand that Gallinari is contesting shots then running down the floor. As a group we are watching the ball bounce off the rim because we just took a jump shot and they got layup after layup after layup.”

Derek Fisher:
On tonights game:

“Mental errors and mistakes; we had some shaky offensive possessions that led to a couple of run outs and they got some really easy baskets. We did some things better in the second half but we put ourselves in a tough spot getting behind in a tough game on the road.”

On Kobe’s shooting performance:

That’s what Kobe does for us. On the offensive end his mentality in terms of attacking when he’s out on the floor every minute so you don’t want that to change. But we have to do a better job as a group executing to put all of our players in a position to shoot high percentage shots. It would give us a better chance to make more of them when you take them.

Andrew Bynum:
On tonights game:

"I put the onus on me on that being a little tired and not getting down the court. If I get down the court first I have to get the ball. I need to make that happen in order to get the ball. ”

On his conditioning:

It is just tough to play here. I’ll get better later in the year.

George Karl:
On defensive game plan against Kobe:

We didn’t trick it up tonight until the end of the fourth quarter down there when we went to double. I think the theme of our training camp has been to control the ball, attack the ball and don’t worry about your man so much. Play team defense. I can’t deny that Danilo was better on him than I thought he was going to be. He felt confident. Arron was good on him too and then Andre. I think the one thing that Andre gives us is that acute help all the time. His ability to jab in and jab out, freeze a guy, confuse a guy without ever giving up a difficult shot; an easy shot by his roaming. Everybody is into it. We are hitting the ball a lot we are getting a lot of steals. [We’re] trying to control and crowd the ball more than maybe cover your man. We are still not perfect at it. We had our breakdowns but it was good. I think they are searching for their offense too.

On play of newcomers:

“I think their roles are getting clearer and clearer. I think everybody understands what we’re trying to do and we’ve been working hard with a few challenges here and there.”

Danilo Gallinari:
On defending Kobe:

“We were just trying to play aggressive on him all the time and try to make him tired, tried to make him make tough shots. It is tough when you play against him because he can make shots. I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Lakers-Nuggets Preview


Posted Dec 31 2011 9:16PM

Andrew Bynum had a stellar season debut in leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a victory over the Denver Nuggets in the opener of a home-and-home set.
He knows building on that performance won't be easy with the series shifting to Denver.

After closing out 2011 with three straight victories, the Lakers look to ring in the new year with a sweep of the Nuggets on Sunday night.

Bynum was a spectator for Los Angeles' first four games while serving a suspension for a flagrant foul against Dallas' J.J. Barea in Game 4 of last season's Western Conference semifinals. The 7-foot center returned to action Saturday against Denver and made an immediate impact, finishing with 29 points on 13 for 18 shooting and 13 rebounds in a 92-89 victory for the Lakers (3-2).

"They were looking for me a lot. I was a focal point early in the offense, so I knew the quicker I got down the court, the better it was," said Bynum, who made four of his first five shots and finished the first quarter with 10 points. "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. I wanted to get it down low, and when I got it, I made shots."

Bynum also blocked two shots and the Nuggets, who were outrebounded 50-36, had no answer for slowing him down.

"His power around the basket - we haven't seen it yet," Denver coach George Karl said. "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."

Although Denver was overpowered by Bynum, simply facing the Lakers at the Pepsi Center on New Year's Day could work in its favor. The Nuggets have won four of five meetings in Denver, and because Bynum's conditioning is not yet up to speed, the short turnaround and drastic change in elevation could impede his game.

"I was winded like crazy. First game… I couldn't breathe in the first six minutes," Bynum said. "It's only going to be a little bit worse (Sunday) because of the altitude."

Despite Bynum's big game on Saturday, victory was still well within reach for the Nuggets (2-2).

The Lakers missed 22 of 24 shots from 3-point range, and Kobe Bryant was plagued by foul trouble and finished with a season-low 17 points. He averaged 27.8 points in the first four games despite playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist. The 13-time All-Star, however, did contribute Saturday with nine assists and 10 rebounds and scored seven of his points in the fourth quarter."

Denver also had several chances late to pull it out, but couldn't make a shot. Up 89-84 with 3:40 to play, the Nuggets missed their final seven field goal attempts and all three free throws.

Danilo Gallinari blew an easy fast-break layup, Nene missed a dunk and Bynum and Paul Gasol each blocked layups.

Reserve forward Al Harrington led the Nuggets with 21 points on Saturday, while Ty Lawson, who averaged 22.3 points in the first three games, was held to nine.

"We get three layups and a couple of free throws in the last three minutes, and we miss all of them," Karl said. "Our offensive confidence is a little short right now. We're not making shots and we kind of have to build our confidence to get the momentum going the right way."

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

  #9 Barnes 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.


Game 1: 12/31 - DEN @ LAL W 92-89
Game 2: 01/01 - LAL @ DEN
Game 3: 02/03 - LAL @ DEN
Game 4: 04/13 - DEN @ LAL


The Lakers lead their season series with Denver 1-0 after dropping last season’s series to Denver (1-2) as well as the 2009-10 series (1-3), marking only the second time the Lakers have lost consecutive season series to the Nuggets (1977-78, 1978-79). The two teams have met 147 times in the regular season with the Lakers leading the all- time series 96-51. The Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 regular season meetings with the Nuggets. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 19-4 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 54 career regular season games including 45 starts against the Nuggets, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.3 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).

With 17 points December 31st vs. Denver, Kobe Bryant (27,996) moved to within 4 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, 131 days old on Sunday, January 1 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 (1,108 games played thru 12/31/11) 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.


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. (Associated Press)


The Lakers victory over Denver on December 31st marked Derek Fisher’s 500th consecutive regular season game. Entering the Lakers January 1st contest at Denver, Derek Fisher has now played in 500 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 378 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.


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 (27,996) 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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