Lakers 107, Nuggets 97: Jan. 21 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening road game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center as the Lakers looked to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss in Dallas, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: C. Billups, A. Afflalo, C. Anthony, K. Martin, Nene

FIRST QUARTER
10:10 It was a poor start for the Lakers, with Andrew Bynum missing two good looks at the rim on one end, and Carmelo Anthony’s and-1 with Arron Afflalo’s three quickly putting the Nuggets up 6-0. Bynum was playing with a large wrap around his right elbow after he suffered a funny bone injury against Dallas on Tuesday.

3:00 Bynum missed two more good looks near the rim, so it’s not unfair to conclude that his elbow was causing some discomfort, or at least affecting his usual rhythm. Meanwhile, the Nuggets were aggressively double-teaming Bryant and turning him into a passer, though when they left Afflalo on him without help, he turned for a 17-foot jumper that brought L.A. to within four at 21-17. Denver had built their lead in part from the three-point line, where Afflalo hit twice and Billups once.

0:00 Both teams shot the ball poorly in the first, with LAL checking in at 39.1 percent and Denver 37.5 percent, due mostly to Anthony’s 2-for-8 field goals. Denver did hit four free throws to

SECOND QUARTER
7:15 Back-to-back hoops from Bynum and Odom capped a solid start to the second for the Lakers, who used an 11-2 run to open a 33-27 lead. Steve Blake, Shannon Brown and Luke Walton (plus Bynum) would then add a bucket a piece to get the Lakers up to 41 points, the bench production that was absent against Dallas on Wednesday coming through in the early goings.

2:27 With Denver’s defense focused on him, Bryant had taken only three shots, making one, while falling to a team-worst -8 in plus/minus, at least until a driving layup off a hesitation dribble made it 45-42 Lakers. Anthony, meanwhile, continued his shooting struggles at just 3-for-12.

0:00 After giving up 12 threes to Dallas, the Lakers conceded five in the first half to Denver, Afflalo’s fourth hit thanks to Anthony’s penetration and a missed rotation making it 52-49 for the home team at the break. Gasol joined Artest with nine points, while Odom tallied eight off the bench, with Bryant reaching just four points on 2-of-4 FG’s.

THIRD QUARTER
10:20 Some good execution in the half court saw Kobe hit a jumper, Artest drain his fifth shot in six attempts after Bryant found him out of a double team, and Bynum lay in next to the hoop for a quick 6-0 run that put the Lakers up 55-54.

6:31 L.A.’s best stretch of the game saw a three-point halftime deficit turn into a 5-point lead, thanks in large part to Bryant’s six points and assist in the first half of the third quarter. Denver did get Afflalo’s fifth three-pointer of the game to keep the margin close, then cut LAL’s lead to just two on Anthony’s alley-oop moments after Bynum (11 points, six rebounds) picked up his fourth foul.

3:16 More Kobe. He added another field goal to reach 5-of-6 in the quarter, then an assist to Odom and two free throws after getting J.R. Smith to bite on a pump fake, and he was suddenly up to 16 points with five dimes after the 4-point, 2-assist first half. His terrific run of efficiency on offense of late (55 percent shooting in last five games) was continuing, his FG total rising to 8-of-13.

Bryant would finish the period with 14 points to reach 18 on the game, along with six boards and six dimes after a dominant effort that turned his team’s halftime deficit into a 10-point lead after three at 82-72.

FOURTH QUARTER
10:16 Despite back-to-back buckets to open the quarter from Brown and Odom, producing a 14-point lead, Phil Jackson couldn’t have enjoyed seeing Ty Lawson get an and-1 off a screen from Martin. After all, screen/roll D with Lawson in particular was one of Jackson’s chief pregame concerns, and in this case preceded an Al Harrington bucket that cut L.A.’s lead quickly back to single digits.

7:10 The Bynum-Odom combination dominated the early portion of the fourth quarter, with Odom scoring six points and Bynum four over a five-minute stretch, Bynum’s power move over Nene opening a 94-79 lead for the visitors. This also allowed Bryant some quality rest before he checked in to try and see the game through after a Lawson reverse layup.

5:15 Nene, frustrated perhaps that Bynum had converted seven straight field goals after missing his first four, gave L.A.’s seven footer an extra shove after fouling him hard on an inside catch. Bynum sprang right up to look down in the face of the Brazilian, but no technicals were given. Instead, ‘Drew calmly hit two free throws before checking out with 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, putting the Lakers up 98-82, their biggest lead of the night.

2:14 Bryant took over the third, Bynum and Odom the start of the fourth, and Artest continued an excellent all-around game by first hitting his seventh field goal in 10 attempts (16 points), then grabbing consecutive rebounds to allow the Lakers to trim an extra minute off the clock, preserving a 13-point lead for L.A. and all but sealing the deal.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
58 Points in the paint for the Lakers, who found ways to effectively penetrate Denver’s defense throughout the contest.

20 More rebounds grabbed by the Lakers (47) than the Nuggets (27). Denver grabbed only 12 more total rebounds than L.A. had on the offensive glass (15).

19 Season-high points reached by Ron Artest, who finished an excellent all-around game with a corner three at the 35-second mark. He helped limit Carmelo Anthony to 10-for-24 FG’s, blocked two shots and came up with two key offensive rebounds in the final minutes.

14 Points in a dominant third quarter performance from Kobe Bryant, who added four assists and four boards in the period. The 33-20 Lakers edge in that quarter was the difference in the ball game.

5 Lakers in double figures, showing the balanced attack that kept Denver off balance defensively throughout the game. Artest (19) and Gasol (19) led the way, while Bryant (18), Odom (18) and Bynum (17) joined ‘em.