Nuggets halt streaking Lakers
DENVER, Colorado (AFP) –
Corey Brewer came off the bench and drained six three-pointers as the Denver Nuggets defeated Los Angeles 126-114 and snapped the Lakers’ NBA winning streak at five games.
Brewer led the Nuggets with 27 points. Kenneth Faried added 21 points and 15 rebounds and Ty Lawson chipped in 17 points and 14 assists for the Nuggets, who bounced back from a 112-100 Christmas Day loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
To do so, the Nuggets had to overcome 40 points from Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.
Pau Gasol added 19 points for the Lakers — who were coming off a 100-94 victory over the New York Knicks in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Dwight Howard scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Lakers before he was ejected in the third quarter when he was whistled for a flagrant foul after making contact with the head of a driving Faried.
Howard clearly felt the ejection was an over-reaction.
“It was a hard foul, that’s all I know,” Howard said. “I’ve been fouled harder than that before and nobody ever got kicked out of the game for it, but I get penalized for fouling people hard.”
Leading by just one point early in the second half, Denver used a 14-2 scoring run to establish a double-digit lead.
Faried’s three-point play sparked the surge, and Danilo Gallinari capped it with a three-pointer that made it 73-60 with 7:51 remaining in the third quarter.
Gallinari finished the game with 19 points and Andre Iguodala added 17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals for Denver.
The Lakers answered with a 12-5 run to trim the deficit to six points, but Howard’s ejection inspired Denver to a 6-0 spurt.
The Lakers pulled within four points late in the third, but Denver scored the final five points of the period — including Brewer’s three-pointer as the quarter ended — to take a 96-87 lead into the fourth.
Brewer drained another three-pointer early in the fourth to stretch Denver’s lead to 14 points, and the Lakers didn’t get closer than seven the rest of the way as Denver posted their seventh straight win at home.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was reluctant to call the defeat a setback for a team that had point guard Steve Nash back for just the third game since he missed 24 contests with a broken leg.
But Gasol, who was sidelined himself for several games with tendinitis in his knees, admitted the loss was “a little bit of a setback” for a Lakers team that had appeared to be rounding into form after the slow start to the season that lead to the departure of former coach Mike Brown.
“We’ve got to think about the next one, which is Portland on Friday, and go from there,” Gasol said. “We have to analyze our losses and understand why it happened so we can prevent it from happening again.”