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Ron Artest keeps Carmelo Anthony in check in Lakers' win

Artest scores 19 points and harasses the Nuggets star into 10-for-24 shooting.

January 22, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers forward Ron Artest drives against Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony in the first quarter Friday night.
Lakers forward Ron Artest drives against Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony… (Rick Giase / EPA )

Reporting from Denver — For all the recent complaints about Ron Artest, for all the hand-wringing done by Lakers fans as the 12-year veteran got off to the slowest start of his career, there was a three-hour reminder of why the Lakers acquired him two years ago.

Artest outplayed Carmelo Anthony in the Lakers' thorough victory Friday against Denver, harassing, frustrating and generally annoying the NBA's ninth-leading scorer into 23 points on 24 shots, a stat line to be accepted by the Lakers with open arms every time.

Artest was infinitely more efficient than Anthony while scoring a season-high 19 points, making eight of 12 shots in a 107-97 Lakers victory.

Miracles do happen, apparently.

Artest was as surprised as anybody else to hear that Anthony was six for 19 at one time.

"Wow," he said. "I didn't even realize he was playing that bad. I was locked in on what we were doing as a team."

Artest played well in the first quarter but didn't play a minute of the second quarter after picking up his second foul late in the first. Luke Walton did a passable job up to halftime on Anthony, who started out two for 10 and was four for 13 when the third quarter began.

Artest was there in the third quarter, on both sides of the ball, as the Lakers overcame a three-point halftime deficit and took control of the game.

On one play, Artest poked the ball away from Anthony, leading to a dunk by Kobe Bryant at the other end.

On another, he fought through a double team of Chauncey Billups and Nene, scoring on a 15-footer.

Finally, his two offensive rebounds kept alive a late possession as the Lakers led by 13.

Artest wasn't perfect, Anthony spinning off him for an alley-oop dunk in the third quarter, but it was the exception, not the norm.

"Artest is a strong defensive player," said Anthony, who came into the game averaging 23.5 points. "He has quick hands. I think as a whole the Lakers just do a great job just shifting the court, and especially now with [Andrew] Bynum and [Pau] Gasol down there. With Artest on the ball, he can take a lot of more chances now, just scrambling around out there."

Anthony made only 10 of 24 shots.

"Man, I've been shooting like that the last couple of games," Anthony said, smiling. "I missed some shots that I normally make. It is what it is."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

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