Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening road contest at Denver, the Lakers looking to win their second straight and third overall road game, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: T. Lawson, A. Afflalo, D. Gallinari, Nene, T. Mozgov
10:55 In his pregame media session, Nuggets coach George Karl called Andrew Bynum the league’s “best paint player,” and Bynum responded with back-to-back hoops from the paint to get L.A. off to a 4-0 start. It was his first game after being named to his first All-Star game as a starter, something he was eager to back up.
5:27 More Bynum. The second of two big dunks came off a pretty alley-oop from Kobe (three assists), getting L.A.’s center to 4-of-4 from the field for nine points. L.A.’s lead was 17-10 heading into the first time out, and in that huddle, Mike Brown emphasized the importance of his players sprinting back to the paint, not necessarily their man, in transition.
0:00 The Lakers were terrific to start the game, but after taking a 23-12 lead with 3:05 to play, allowed a 9-0 Nuggets run to close the quarter leading by only two. Al Harrington hit the final bucket, from three, reminding of his big game off the bench against L.A. back on New Years Day.
9:55 The Lakers finally got something out of Denver’s immediately doubling Bynum, the center first splitting the double to get a layup and stop an 11-0 run, then finding Jason Kapono in the corner for a long two started a quick 7-0 run to make it a 32-25 L.A. lead. Two straight makes came from Andrew Goudelock, the second round pick who has scored in double figures in three of the last four games.
4:00 The teams traded buckets for the next five minutes, until Afflalo’s wing three tied the game at 34. L.A. had missed three consecutive jump shots well short (Bryant, Gasol, Murphy), suggesting some early fatigue. The road team hadn’t played since Tuesday’s blow out win over Charlotte, so the legs were there, but sometimes it takes a bit to get one’s game legs back after a longer-than-usual lay off.
0:00 L.A. must have been pleased to hold Denver to only 41 points in the half, despite allowing six in the final minute, since they average a league-best 105 points per game, and took a 44-41 lead on a Goudelock floater (which he told me pregame he’s been taking and practicing since high school).
10:01 The Nuggets took their first lead of the evening on a Gallinari three, the team’s 3rd, and a Mozgov layup, though may have lost their Russian center for the evening as he rolled his left ankle coming down from the layup. Bryant continued his slow shooting night, missing twice to fall to just 2-of-12 from the field, and this after his 6-for-28 shooting night on New Years Day in this building.
2:20 Led by an effective defense, L.A. re-opened the lead it enjoyed for most of the first half, getting its first three-pointer from Troy Murphy (they’d been 0-for-7) and then another from way downtown, Goudelock hitting his first of the evening to put L.A. up 66-60. Denver would chop off two points before the break, but L.A. held a four-point lead nonetheless.
5:17 A bizarre stretch for L.A. saw two bad calls on the sideline result first in a lost possession, then a T on Barnes for swinging his elbows on offense, with the ball, even though no contact was made with Rudy Fernandez. Denver cut the lead to as few as two when Harrington hit a three, but Bynum responded with consecutive dunks.
4:15 Make that back-to-back Harrington 3′s, the second cutting L.A.’s lead to just one at 84-83. The Lakers had controlled the entire game, and just when it was trending the other way, who but Metta World Peace (who’d just missed his third and fourth FT’s of the game) would answer with a three?
0:47.2 Stay with us here, folks: L.A. made the key plays it needed down the stretch, getting two stops around a corner two from Fisher that kept the lead at four with 47.2 seconds left, when World Peace came up with a key steal in the final minute. But just when it appeared L.A. had the game wrapped up, Bynum getting a low post catch from Bryant after Denver overplayed No. 24, nothing was called when Nene hit Bynum’s arm, and Denver was awarded possession after the ball went out of bounds off L.A. Regardless, World Peace played great D on Al Harrington, trying to tie the game for the Nuggets when down two, and Matt Barnes secured the rebound with under a second to play. He made two foul shots at the other end to make the final score L.A. 93, Denver 89, a tough road win for the Lakers to start off the 6-game Grammy trip.
We’ll see you in Utah tomorrow night.