Lakers power forward Pau Gasol reacts to a missed shot although he was fouled… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Lakers 122, Nuggets 103 (final)
Dwight Howard hit a late three-point shot with a smile. Why not? The Lakers were on fire from long distance, hitting 17 of 33 (51.5%) three-pointers in a relatively easy 122-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
When the Lakers get bench support, they're very difficult to beat. When Antawn Jamison pours in 33 points and Jodie Meeks adds 21 on a combined 20-of-28 shooting (71.4%), the Lakers are nearly unstoppable.
The Lakers shot 54% from the field as a team while winning the battle of the boards, 44-38.
Howard dominated with 28 points and 20 rebounds. Jamison also had a double-double with 12 boards in easily his best game with the Lakers.
Denver was led by Danilo Gallinari's 19 points while Andre Iguodala added 14.
The Nuggets shot 46.5% from the field but never recovered after an early four-point lead turned into a 10-point deficit. Even with five double-digit scorers, Denver lost by 19 points.
Kobe Bryant didn't shoot the ball particularly well but led both teams with eight assists to go along with his 14 points.
The Lakers improve to 8-8, overtaking the Nuggets (8-9) in the Western Conference standings.
Lakers 97, Nuggets 82 (end of third quarter)
Antawn Jamison's scoop shot with 0.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter gave the Lakers a 15-point lead over the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant tallied his eighth assist of the game while helping Jamison score his game high 22nd and 23rd points.
Bryant scored 14 on five-of-14 shooting, behind Jamison, Howard (21) and Meeks (15).
The Nuggets shot 49.2% from the field through three quarters, led by Danilo Gallinari's 16 points and Andre Iguodala's 14. The Lakers shot 55.2% from the field.
Both teams shot well from three-point range, the Lakers nailing 12 of 24 (50%) while Denver hit eight of 18 (44.4%).
Lakers 71, Nuggets 57 (halftime)
Jodie Meeks gave the Lakers a huge boost, hitting his first five shots against the Nuggets, all three-pointers. He went into the half with 15 points in only 10 minutes.
Howard led the Lakers with 16 points but a blow to the face caused a cut over his left eye that could not be sutured. Trainer Gary Vitti was able to stop the bleeding and Howard returned near the end of the quarter.
The Lakers shot 60% from the field, hitting nine of 18 from three-point range. Uncharacteristically they hit a strong percentage from the free-throw line (72.7%) while turning the ball over just five times.
The Nuggets, who shot 52.5% from the field, were led by Danilo Gallinari with 13 points.
Lakers 34, Nuggets 27 (end of first quarter)
Dwight Howard had a tremendous first quarter against the Nuggets, scoring 16 points in 12 minutes on seven-of-nine shooting with five rebounds.
After Denver took an early four-point lead, Howard helped the Lakers climb ahead by 10. Antawn Jamison hit a pair of three-pointers off the bench, scoring eight in the quarter.
The Nuggets, who shot 55% from the field, were led by Andre Iguodala with seven points.
The Lakers made 58.3% of their shots from the field, including four of eight from three-point range.
The Lakers (7-8) have fallen back under .500 after losing to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. On Friday night they'll get to face the Denver Nuggets (8-8) at Staples Center.
The Nuggets gave the Lakers a challenge last season in the first round of the playoffs. Since then the Lakers have swapped out Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard in a four-team deal that brought Andre Iguodala to Denver.
Iguodala is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. The Lakers are playing without point guards Steve Nash (leg) and Steve Blake (abdominal strain), which should give Denver's Ty Lawson the advantage.
The Lakers would jump the Nuggets in the standings with a victory but it won't come easy.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Nuggets.
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You can email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.