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Nuggets beat struggling Lakers 112-105

6:59 AM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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JaVale McGee scored 17 points for the Nuggets, who showed no signs of weariness after a home win over Utah one night earlier. Despite two last-minute 3-pointers by Kobe Bryant, Denver maintained a lead throughout the fourth quarter of its second win in 12 days over the Lakers.

Bryant scored 29 points and Dwight Howard had 14 points and a career high-tying 26 rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost three straight and four of five.

Los Angeles' star-studded roster dropped to 15-18 with another mediocre performance featuring 18 turnovers, intermittent defense and little structured offense down the stretch.

Denver beat the Lakers at Staples Center for just the fifth time in 26 meetings. The Nuggets hung on to their lead with big late baskets from Andre Miller and Lawson, whose layup put Denver ahead by eight points with 1:18 to play.

Bryant's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left cut Denver's lead to 105-102, and Howard emphatically blocked a layup attempt on the Nuggets' next possession - but the ball went straight to Gallinari, who immediately drained a 3-pointer with 13.8 seconds left.

Bryant hit another 3-pointer with 11.2 seconds left, but Miller hit two free throws before Bryant missed another desperate 3-point try.

Andre Iguodala had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Nuggets, and Miller finished with 12 points and 10 assists.

Howard had an impressive game on the boards despite an injured right shoulder, matching his career high in rebounds in the final minutes. But he took just seven shots - making all of them except for a 3-point attempt - and went 2 for 6 on the free-throw line.

Steve Nash had 10 points and 13 assists for the Lakers, while Pau Gasol had 11 points and five rebounds before leaving with a bloody nose with 1:05 to play in a collision with McGee.

The Nuggets missed their first nine shots, but quickly moved past the Lakers with uptempo offense that didn't make a turnover until the second quarter. Los Angeles caught up with better defense and balanced scoring, and Bryant limited his shots while assuming the playmaking role that usually foreshadows the Lakers' better performances.

Denver reclaimed the lead late in the third quarter during a 14-3 run stretching into the fourth, going ahead 92-83 on Corey Brewer's 3-pointer.

When Gasol had to leave the game with a bloody nose, Denver coach George Karl chose seldom-used Earl Clark off the Lakers' bench to shoot Gasol's free throws with 1:05 to play. Clark coolly made both shots to trim the Nuggets' lead to 105-99, kick-starting the Lakers' late comeback attempt.

Antawn Jamison, who scored 33 points against the Nuggets in their previous visit to Staples Center on Nov. 20, got just four minutes of playing time, scoring two points.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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