Lakers avoid skid by holding off Nuggets

Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

DENVER -- The Los Angeles Lakers have made a vow to themselves that they will not lose two games in a row, and on Tuesday night they kept it.

The Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets, 105-96, improving to 18-3 this season, bouncing back from a loss to the Dallas Mavericks to open December.

Against the second best team in the Western Conference, a bruising defensive powerhouse that entered the night tied for the best defensive rating in the NBA, the Lakers scored 60 first half points and did enough the rest of the game to secure the win.

LeBron James scored 23 points and Anthony Davis scored 25. Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard also scored in double figures. The Nuggets were led by guard Jamal Murray, who scored 22 points.

The Lakers dominated the first half, grabbing twice as many rebounds as the Nuggets, and besting them in fast-break points, second-chance points and points off the bench.

But just like the Mavericks did on Sunday afternoon, the Nuggets came out of halftime on a mission. They outscored the Lakers 23-11 to start the third quarter.

A three-pointer by Paul Millsap gave the Nuggets a 72-71 lead, but the Lakers responded with a 7-0 run. Davis hit a three-pointer and James contributed two driving layups.

And where they let Dallas bury them on Sunday, on Tuesday the Lakers found the will to retake control.


Denver made a late push that energized their fans.

The crowd rose to its feet as James brought the ball up the court with the Lakers leading 97-96. He spotted Davis wrestling with Nikola Jokic, who was ultimately called for a foul. Davis made one of two free throws. At the other end of the court, the Lakers forced a miss by the Nuggets, and as Alex Caruso fought for the rebound, he was knocked to the ground by Will Barton. Caruso made both free throws to give the Lakers a four-point lead.

It was the first time since Nov. 15 the Lakers have kept an opponent under 100 points. On the road against one of the league's best, the Lakers kept their promise.

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