Dwight Howard was ejected in the third quarter after being called for a Flagrant… (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images )
Nuggets 126 - Lakers 114 (end of regulation)
The Lakers gave up 69 points in the second half to the Denver Nuggets, falling to 14-15 on the season. The Nuggets shot 54.5% from three-point range (12-22), led by Corey Brewer's 27 points in just 24 minutes.
Dwight Howard was ejected in the third quarter for a Flagrant 2, committed against Kenneth Faried. The Lakers never fully recovered, although a fourth quarter run nearly got the team within five.
Instead, Metta World Peace missed a lay-up and Danilo Gallinari hit a three-pointer to put Denver back up by ten.
The Lakers shot 49.4% from the field but the problem on Wednesday night was their inability to get stops. Six Nuggets scored double figures. Ty Lawson had 17 points and 14 assists. Faried scored 21 and grabbed 15 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant scored 40, topping the 30-point mark for the 10th straight game. Pau Gasol had 19 points with five assists and even hit a pair of three-pointers.
The Nuggets climb to 16-14, with a dominant 9-1 home record (best in the league).
The Lakers play again on Friday night at Staples center, hosting the Portland Trail Blazers. Flagrant fouls can be accompanied by suspension. Expect the league to make a ruling either way before the Friday.
Nuggets 96 - Lakers 87 (end of third quarter)
Dwight Howard was ejected seven minutes into the third quarter after he committed a Flagrant 2 foul, pushing Kenneth Faried in the face.
The Nuggets poured in 39 points in the third, finishing on Corey Brewer three-pointer at the buzzer to pull ahead by nine. The Lakers reduced a 13-point deficit to just four before Denver added a little separation with a late spurt.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 26 points. Brewer was the spark off the bench for the Nuggets with 18.
The Lakers shot 51.6% from the field but were out-scored by eight-points from the free throw line (giving up 27 free throws). The Nuggets shot 48.6% from the field.
Howard finished with 12 points and seven boards in 27 minutes.
Nuggets 57 - Lakers 54 (halftime)
Turnovers (eight) and missed free throws (7-14) hurt the Lakers but they managed to keep close to the Nuggets.
Pau Gasol scored 13, hitting a pair of three-pointers (a shot he said he's been practicing to fit into the offense). Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 15.
Steve Nash struggled with foul trouble, dishing six assists in 13 minutes before committing his third.
The Lakers had trouble staying in front of Ty Lawson who had 11 points and six assists. The Nuggets shot 43.4% from the field while the Lakers shot 46.7%.
Kenneth Faried had a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards in just 18 minutes.
Nuggets 29 - Lakers 26 (end of first quarter)
The Denver Nuggets dominated the offensive boards in the first quarter against the Lakers, taking an early seven-point lead. The Lakers quickly recovered, storming back to take a brief one-point before finishing the quarter down three.
Kenneth Faried scored 11 points with nine boards in 12 minutes of play to lead both teams. Kobe Bryant scored eight points.
The Lakers shot 45% from the field but missed five free throws (6-11). The Nuggets shot 46.4% from the field.
The Lakers (14-14) and Denver Nuggets (15-14) will get back to work on Wednesday after both played Christmas games in Los Angeles.
Upon beating the New York Knicks in the afternoon, the Lakers flew out to Denver while the Nuggets were losing, 112-100, to the Clippers.
The Nuggets are used to playing in the higher altitude of Denver and have younger legs. The Lakers are playing their best basketball of the season, but they're vulnerable on the second night of a back-to-back.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Nuggets.
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Email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.