Kobe Bryant got his points, but the young Nuggets got the win.
Corey Brewer tied a career high with 27 points, Kenneth Faried had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and the Nuggets triumphed over another big night from Bryant to beat the L.A Lakers 126-114.
Bryant scored 40 points, extending his streak of scoring 30 or even more points towards 10 games. Even allowing for that the Lakers’ 5-game winning streak stopped.
“Tonight it appeared like we were just a step slow, looked like we were stuck in mud,” Bryant said. “We played old. They played with a lot of energy, plenty of youth, got up and back down. It just seemed we were in a lower gear.”
The Denver Nuggets seemed like they were turbocharged, although they had just 14 fast-break points. They ran constantly and pushed the pace, a tactic that helped them break out of their 3-point shooting woes.
A week after setting an NBA record for futility by missing all 22 of their 3-point attempts against the Portland Trail Blazers, they hit 11 of 15 in the second half against the L.A Lakers. Football odds
“It was just a matter of time,” Brewer asserted. “We stayed confident. We missed a lot of shots that went in and out the last few weeks.”
The Nuggets had 6 players in double digits, but Brewer set the pace, going 6-for-7 from 3-point range, all in the second half. Andre Iguodala finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Ty Lawson had 17 points, 14 assists and no turnovers in 34 minutes.
“We were just knocking down shots, and our big men were getting wide-open dunks,” Lawson said. “They helped me out with that.”
Faried, a 6-foot-8 forward, displayed boundless energy and fearless play. He secured his 12th double-double of the year halfway through the 2nd quarter.
Despite giving up 3 inches to Dwight Howard and 4 inches to Pau Gasol, Faried played near the rim and outworked them for offensive rebounds. The frustration boiled over when Howard delivered a tough foul on Faried with 5:02 left in the 3rd quarter. Howard was considered a Flagrant 2 foul and was ejected.
“He saw my eyes. I wasn’t going to back down, I wasn’t going to try to float it, I was going to try to dunk on him,” Faried related. “He saw it, that’s the reason why he put his hand straight in my face. That’s when I say, ‘Dang, I wish I would have jumped higher.’”
Faried hit one free throw that sparked the Nuggets on a 7-0 run that gave them an 84-72 lead.
“I was going for the ball and he kept going up, so obviously when you miss the ball and you hit part of someone else’s body … It’s going to look extremely bad,” Howard said. “I was stunned it was a Flagrant 2. I could see it being a flagrant foul because it’s a pretty hard foul, but for me to get ejected from the game; I don’t believe it was called for.”