Lakers forward Lamar Odom tries to steal the ball from Nuggets guard Raymond… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
They had won 14 consecutive games at Staples Center, the Lakers' last defeat coming Feb. 3 to the San Antonio Spurs on a last-second tip-in by Antonio McDyess.
"That's two months? Wow! We've been working hard, man," Ron Artest said. "We've just been into the game."
The Lakers had been so tuned in to the game, so tuned in to one another that they had produced a 17-1 record after the All-Star break.
They had produced a nine-game winning streak in the process.
Lakers' loss to Nuggets is a real eye-opener
But that all came to a halt Sunday, the Lakers losing to the Denver Nuggets, 95-90, at Staples Center.
And as fate would have it, a tip-in late in the game played a part in the Lakers' loss.
They trailed, 92-90, when the Nuggets' Nene went to the free-throw line for two shots with 11.3 seconds left.
He made the first free throw but missed the second, the ball rolling off the rim.
Lamar Odom had inside position on Kenyon Martin and Artest was next to the Nuggets forward.
Somehow, Martin got the offensive rebound, pushing his way past Odom, tipping the ball in for a 95-90 Nuggets lead.
"We're going to keep going," Artest said. "We're not stopping. We're not stopping today. We don't like to lose, give people good stories and the fans hate it. We're moving on."
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The good vibes in Lakerland had stopped.
The winning streak was over.
"We're going to try to do one more of these streaks," Artest said.
Well, it can't be nine straight because the Lakers have only six regular-season games left.
"But if we can win nine in a row in the playoffs," Artest said, "that would be good too."
The loss left the Lakers 2½ games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA.
The Lakers are one game behind the Chicago Bulls for the second-best record in the league and two games ahead of the Miami Heat for the third-best record.
The Lakers have three more games this week.
They host the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, then travel to face the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Wednesday and to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on Friday.
"We have no choice but to move on," Shannon Brown said. "We're going down the stretch and we're still going for home court. We've got to play well. We've got to build our momentum back up going into the playoffs. So this game, we've got to put it behind us and learn from our mistakes."
The Lakers turned the ball over 20 times against the Nuggets.
They allowed the Nuggets to shoot 41.2% from three-point range.
The Lakers made just 22.2% (four of 18) of their three-point shots.
"We definitely feel like we could have won," Brown said. "But we've got to put this behind us and learn from our mistakes and keep pushing."