Bryant, Lakers hold off NuggetsNov 2, 2008 - 6:20 AM By Patrick Chavez PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
DENVER (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant scored 33 points as the Los Angeles Lakers continued their recent dominance over the Denver Nuggets with a 104-97 victory on Saturday.
Pau Gasol collected 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Lakers, who swept the Western Conference first-round series between the teams last season, demoralizing the lackluster Nuggets in the process.
"It's a good win for us," Gasol said. "I think we made it a little too hard on ourselves by not playing most of the game with intensity and concentration required."
Derek Fisher and Vladimir Radmanovic scored 11 points apiece for Los Angeles, which outscored Denver by 13 in the second half to seal the victory.
Carmelo Anthony scored 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting in his return from a season-opening, two-game suspension for the Nuggets, who have lost two of their first three to start the campaign.
The well-rested Lakers were coming off a 116-79 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday and faced Denver, which needed overtime Friday night to defeat Clippers, 113-103.
It was the Nuggets, however, that looked like the more-rested team in the first half. They led, 52-46, at halftime behind 16 points - 14 in the second quarter - and four assists from point guard Anthony Carter.
The Lakers led by two points after one quarter, getting 11 in the period from Gasol. The Nuggets outscored the Lakers, 29-21, in the second to take the lead into the locker room. Los Angeles was led by Gasol, who netted 13 points in the half.
Anthony, who played his first game of the season after serving the aforementioned two-game suspension handed down by the team for an April DUI offense, was held scoreless in the first half on 0-of-5 shooting.
"It's good to get that one under my belt," Anthony said. "I thought we played a good job on the defensive end at least for the first three quarters."
The second half saw both teams shoot well - as the clubs each hit better than 50 percent in the third quarter, with the Lakers outscoring the Nuggets, 30-24, in the period to tie the game at 76-76 at the end of the third.
Anthony hit his first shot of the game with 9:38 to go in the third and finished with two points in the quarter and 13 for the game, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
However, the final period belonged to Bryant, who scored 14 points in the final 12 minutes.
"In a game like tonight where we struggled and shot only 37 percent, it's my responsibility to get it going," Bryant said.
The Lakers put the game away with an 18-6 run in the last 5:07 of the game to provide the final margin and improve their season record to 3-0 while the Nuggets fell to 1-2.
Carter scored 20 points but only netted four in the second half, while Kenyon Martin added 18 for the Nuggets but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter, playing just three minutes in the period before sitting out the rest of the game with a left hamstring strain. He is considered to be day-to-day.
LA LAKERS 104
DENVER 97 FINAL
Nov 1 10:40 PM
LA LAKERS 76
DENVER 76 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 1 10:03 PM
LA LAKERS 23
DENVER 21 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 1 9:44 PM
LA LAKERS 46
DENVER 52 HALFTIME
Nov 1 9:19 PM
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