Would the Lakers win their sixth consecutive game to get their second winning record of the season?
Is Nash going to keep up his high-level of play since coming back?
Let’s find out.
Morris is getting the start at the two again, but he only played seven minutes last time, so we’ll see how much he plays tonight. The Lakers’ first basketball comes from a Bryant floater in the lane, and was then followed up by a beautiful fast-break oop from Morris to Howard. Lakers go through a short phase of bad defense and turnovers that gave the Nuggets a 12-7 lead. D’Antoni calls a timeout at the 6:03 mark after back-to-back dunks from Javale McGee. Poor defensive effort has put them in an early 16-9 hole. Steve Nash hits his first shot of the game off a pick from Howard, and then Bryant hit a wing three on the next possession. Lakers just had one of their best fast-breaks on the season. It was finished with a Hill dunk off a pretty Nash pass, and then soon after Hill finishes another fast-break with a dunk to give the Lakers their first lead of the game (24-23). It’s very nice to see Hill getting the minutes he deserves after it looked like he would never see minutes. Faried is killing the Lakers early by simply giving more effort than them. He has nine points and seven boards with two minutes left in the quarter. The quarter ends on Bryant driving down the paint and putting up a shot where it seemed he clearly got fouled, but no whistle blew. Nuggets lead 29-26 led by Faried’s 11 points and nine boards. Bryant had eight points, one rebound, and one assist for the Lakers.
Bryant furious about not getting a call at rim as time expired. Ref Dan Crawford wasn't giving it. LAL played well for about 3 of 12 min.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 27, 2012
Metta World Peace makes his presence known for the first time this game by draining a three, and then forcing a turnover on the other end. He has been an enormous part of the Lakers’ success, and they need him to have a good game for them to win tonight. After recently finding some success from the line, Howard is struggling early by missing three of his first four. After a timeout, Lakers find themselves down 35-32 with 8:38 left to play in the quarter, but should be lucky it is only three. It seems like there was a wet spot on the floor, as Gasol turns the ball over from having his feet slide apart. The turnover was turned into another fast-break dunk for the Nuggets who now find themselves up 40-32. Nash and Kobe come back into the game after the timeout, and then Gasol hooks up with Howard on an and-one oop. Bryant hits a deep three from the wing as the shot clock was running down to move the Lakers within two (40-38). Gasol got the ball right on the three-point line and attacked the rim just like he did at the end of the Lakers-Knicks game on Christmas. Nuggets lead 44-42. Faired hits a layup as the shot clock ran out, but Gasol answered with a three on the Lakers trip back. Nash gets his third foul of the game with 4:22 left to play on a Lawson break-away layup. He now takes a seat on the bench for the rest of the half, and right after Gasol hit his second three of the game. Lawson gets another layup after a Bryant shot. No one has been able to slow him down tonight. The last score of the half came from a Howard shot in the paint. Lakers find themselves down 57-54 at the half, but it could be much worse. Lakers were out-boarded 31-21, missed seven free throws, and did not match the energy of the Nuggets.
Both teams playing second night of post-Christmas back-to-back set. Sloppy. Halftime: DEN 57, LA 54.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) December 27, 2012
Notable Halftime Stats
Kobe Bryant: 15 points (5-11), three assists, and two blocks.
Pau Gasol: 13 points (5-7), four rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
Dwight Howard: 10 points (4-5), six rebounds, and two assists.
Steve Nash: Six points (3-3) and six assists.
Kenneth Faried: 13 points (6-8) and 11 rebounds
Ty Lawson: 10 points (4-10) and six assists
Bryant starts the second half with an aggressive drive to the rim to give him 17 points. After another Bryant bucket, Nuggets kill the Lakers on transition and Faried makes a three-point play. Lakers have not played good transition defense all night. Nuggets lead 62-58 with 9:48 left in the quarter. Bryant has 21 points already after hitting another long jumper. He looks very good tonight, and it seems like his streak of consecutive 30+ points will be pushed to ten. Iguodola hits the Nuggets’ second three of the game, and then Lawson followed up with a pair of free throws to push the lead to 70-60. D’Antoni calls a timeout after Gallinari hits a three making it a 9-0 run for the Nuggets, who now lead 73-60 with 7:51 to play. Metta World Peace comes out of the timeout with a three to stop the bleeding for the Lakers, and then follows up with another score on a fast-break. Nash is now 5-5 after knocking down a three and a jumper. Nuggets lead 78-72. Shockingly, Howard gets ejected from the game after committing a flagrant two foul on Faried with five minutes to play in the quarter. Faried went up for a layup and Howard pushed him in his upper body. Personally, I didn’t believe it was anywhere near eject-worthy. Howard leaves the game with 12 points and seven rebounds. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can battle back and win a game without their star center. After hitting a technical free throw, Nash makes another three (3-3), and is now 6-6 for the game, but like always, the Nuggets come right down and answer within seconds. Nuggets lead 87-78 with under three minutes to go. Bryant drills a three from the top of the arch as the shot clock expired, but you probably know what happened after that, the Nuggets came right back down and answered with a three-point play of their own. Nuggets have rarely been stopped on the night. After another Bryant bucket (26 points) and a pair of Gasol free throws, Lakers find themselves down six with over a minute left to play. Iguodala has a pretty looking twisting layup with seconds left. The Lakers would turn the ball over with three seconds remaining, and in those three seconds Brewer sprinted down the court and put up a three that magically went in. Nuggets lead 96-87 led by Faried’s 19 points and 12 rebounds. Bryant has 26 points, five assists, and two rebounds.
I wonder if Lakers ever heard of defense.
— Kobe Bryant Fans™ (@Team_KB24) December 27, 2012
The Nuggets come out hot and making shots to push the lead to 14 (101-87). Metta World Peace finishes off a three-point play to give him ten points, and also cut the lead to only 10 points. After some free throws from Bryant, he gives himself 31 points to extend his streak of consecutive 30+ to ten games. Six minutes remaining in the game, Bryant just hit another three to make it a 111-102 lead for the Nuggets. Meeks goes on a 4-0 run of his own to cut the lead to only seven. They must decide to show up defensively if they want to win. They have made shots all night, but have not made stops. Back-to-back buckets for the Nuggets make it a 118-106 lead for themselves with 3:15 to play. It looks like time might be running out for the Lakers in this game. It will take a magnificent effort to win this game now. Metta World Peace fouls out for the second straight game with just about two minutes to play after trying to get an offensive rebound. It was a rough game for Metta World Peace who finished with only ten points on 4-13 shooting. Brewer continues his hot night with a three to make it a 126-111 game with less than a minute to go. Bryant put in one more three of his own that would give him 40 points on the night, but that was it for the Lakers. Nuggets win 126-114. They played well offensively, and had to do it without Howard for most of the second half, but it’s impossible to win games when you give up 126 points.
Final: 126-114 Nuggets. Kobe added a late 3 towards 40 pts, but Brewer hit 6 of 7, DEN 12 of 22 from 3. LAL 5-game win streak snapped.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 27, 2012
Kobe Bryant: 40 points (13-24), six assists, four rebounds, and two blocks.
Pau Gasol: 19 points (7-11), six rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.
Steve Nash: 15 points (6-8), eight assists, and two rebounds.
Dwight Howard: 12 points (4-6), seven rebounds, and three assists.
Metta World Peace: 10 points (4-13) and six rebounds.
Corey Brewer: 27 points (9-16) and three rebounds
Kenneth Faried: 21 points (9-13) and 15 rebounds
Danilo Gallinari: 19 points (6-10), three rebounds, and two assists.
Ty Lawson: 17 points (6-15), 14 assists, and four rebounds.
Andre Iguodala: 17 points (5-15) 11 rebounds, and seven assists