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NUGGETS GIVE LAKERS THEIR THIRD STRAIGHT LOSS
Wed, 09 Jan 2013 01:30 AM EST

They were brought in to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to one more title, to add even more glitz and glamour to a star-rich town that is used to championships and winning streaks and Showtime.

Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are finding out that all those Los Angeles lights can cause quite the glare.

The Lakers’ loaded starting lineup dropped to 0-4 after the visiting Denver Nuggets dealt L.A a 112-105 loss at Staples Center.

Though Lakers starters Howard, Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace all scored in double figures, the group remains winless. While Nash missed the majority of the early part of the season with a leg fracture and only recently came back, things have not looked far better for the team since his return.

“It’s a combo of everything,” Nash said. “There are moments we will be able to play smarter, where we will be able to play better defensively … When you add it all up, we’re struggling. At times, we’re finding different ways to lose the game. At times I think we are getting better, but we have nothing to show for it.”

After L.A outplayed Denver 34-26 in the 2nd quarter to tie the game at the half, 60-60, the Nuggets fell behind by four midway through 3rd quarter. Denver then held L.A to just 5 points in the final 6 minutes of the 3rd, seizing a 6-point lead going into the 4th quarter.

Though the L.A Lakers (15-18) cut the deficit to as few as 3 points, the Nuggets took advantage of late turnovers to send Los Angeles to its 3rd straight loss.

After Bryant hit a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, Denver forward Danilo Gallinari scooped up a rebound after a Howard blocked shot and hit a back-breaking 3-pointer. Bryant responded with an off-balance 3-pointer, but the Lakers were forced to foul Denver twice, and the Nuggets (20-16) hit all 4 free throws.

“Our defense was not good for most of the game, but as the game went on, it got a little better,” Denver coach George Karl said. “They were making a lot of shots, but I believed we got better fighting, and that has not been the case almost all of the year. We have been kind of an average 4th-quarter defensive team, but tonight, as the game went on, we were given a bit more confident and a little better defending their ‘A’ stuff.”

Ty Lawson had 21 points and 10 assists to guide Denver, which had 6 players score in double figures. Gallinari finished with 20 points, and JaVale McGee added 17 off the Denver bench.

The Nuggets outscored the Lakers 60-38 in the paint and 25-14 in fast-break points.

Bryant had 29 points on 11-of-26 shooting and added 7 assists. World Peace had 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Howard tied a career-high with 26 rebounds and added 14 points, but he had just 4 points in the second half. Gasol scored 11 points, and Nash gave 10 points and 13 assists, though he turned the ball over 5 times. Vegas odds


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