LOS ANGELES — Lamar Odom scored
nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, Pau Gasol had 15 points and
14 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame an 11-point
third-quarter deficit to beat the Denver Nuggets 95-89 on Sunday.
Kobe Bryant was just 3-for-17 from the
field, finishing with 14 points and 12 assists. The two-time scoring
champion was 1-for-9 during the first three quarters — the only field
goal coming on a layup with 5:37 left in the opening period.
Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points for
Denver before fouling out for the second time this season with 2:13 to
play and the Nuggets down by four. The loss was their first in three
meetings this season with the defending NBA champions, who beat them in
last year's Western Conference finals. Denver has blown double-digit
leads in nine of its 20 losses this season.
Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who picked
up two fouls 57 seconds apart during the first 2 minutes of the game and
went to the bench, didn't get his third until he fouled Chauncey
Billups behind the 3-point line with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game.
Billups made all three free throws to tie the score at 82. But the
Nuggets did not make a field goal over the final 4:10, ending their
three-game winning streak.
Kenyon Martin missed his first seven
shots in his return to the lineup and finished 3-for-11 with six points
in 36 minutes. He missed Friday night's 107-102 win over Detroit because
of a bruised left knee, the same one that forced him to miss two games
earlier this month because of tendinitis.
Ron Artest scored 17 points for the
Lakers, who gained a half-game on idle Cleveland in the overall
standings and trail the Cavaliers by one game for the league's best
record. They lead Denver by 5 1/2 games for the Western Conference lead.
Martin committed three fouls and two
turnovers before making his first field goal with 8:37 left in the third
quarter to give the Nuggets a 54-50 lead after the Lakers had rallied
from a 13-point deficit in the first half.
Bryant received his 11th technical
foul of the season with 1:13 left in the first quarter for turning
around and yelling at referee Ken Mauer about a non-call while play was
going on, after a pass from Odom was slapped away from Bryant by J.R.
Smith near the Lakers' basket with Denver leading 25-21.
Nuggets reserve guard Ty Lawson left
the game with 5:53 left in the first half because of a bruised left
This was the first meeting in which
both teams had their regular starting lineups intact. On Nov. 3 at
Denver, the Nuggets ended a six-game winning streak by the Lakers.
In the second meeting on Feb. 5 at
Staples Center, Billups compensated for the absence of the injured
Anthony by equaling a career high with 39 points in a 126-113 win that
snapped an eight-game winning streak by the Lakers.
Denver coach George Karl, who
missed Thursday's game at Golden State to undergo treatment for throat
and neck cancer, doesn't expect to miss another one until March 10 at
Minnesota. He also is doubtful for the game at New Orleans two nights
later, and possibly another one during Denver's five-game trip at the
end of the month. "I'm not going to miss treatments. So when we're on
the road during the middle of the week, I'm probably going to miss those
games," said Karl, who received good wishes and a warm handshake from
Jack Nicholson at courtside. "I'm going to be tough, but I'm not going
to be stupid-tough. The radiation and the chemotherapy treatment will
get harsher and more difficult in weeks to come, but putting off the
treatment would not have made any sense."