Nuggets Host Lakers

By: AP
By: AP

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets have two of the league's top scorers, but it hasn't helped with either team's consistency much recently.

Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony face off for the second time this year as their teams meet Wednesday night in Denver.

Bryant and Anthony are among the league's top five scorers at 27.2 and 25.3 points per game, respectively. Anthony's teammate, Allen Iverson, is among the top 10 at 23.5 points.

However, despite the impressive scoring averages from their stars, both Denver (11-7) and Los Angeles (10-8) have been inconsistent. The Lakers had dropped two straight and five of seven before a 116-95 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

Bryant, weakened by the case of the stomach flu, scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half. He played 29 minutes before sitting out much of the fourth quarter with the game already in hand.

The shooting guard refused to go to the hospital before the game to get treatment.

"It's tough, but as the leader of this ball club you have to come out and play through that," he said. "Set the tone early, and I was able to do that."

Bryant scored 13 points on 4 of 6 shooting in the first quarter, and finished 6 of 12.

"I made a point to come out and be really aggressive. Kind of set the tone a little bit," Bryant said. "No matter if we're short-handed or not, we have to come out here and take care of business."

Center Andrew Bynum missed the game after spending part of the day at a Minneapolis hospital to receive IV fluids because of the same stomach problem plaguing Bryant. It was not known whether Bynum, who had started eight straight games and is averaging 10.9 points and 10.1 rebounds, would be available Wednesday.

With the win, the Lakers snapped a three-game road losing streak and improved to 4-4 there. Los Angeles, though, has lost three straight and six of its last eight trips to Denver.

Since getting routed 127-99 by the Lakers at the Staples Center on Nov. 29, the Nuggets have bounced back with consecutive victories, including a 115-89 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday. Anthony scored 30 points, Kenyon Martin added a season-high 20 and Marcus Camby pulled down 21 rebounds as Denver jumped out to a 37-17 lead after one quarter and cruised thereafter.

The Nuggets held Miami to 37.5 percent shooting and scored 24 points off 16 Heat turnovers.

"That's the way we want to play, especially at home," said Martin, who reached double figures for just the sixth time in 16 games. "We want to use the altitude to our advantage."

Denver is 8-2 at home, and the two losses were by a combined seven points. The Nuggets are outscoring opponents by an average of 15.0 points at home, scoring 111.4 points per game.

In the first game between the teams, Bryant scored 24 points but sat out the fourth quarter while Sasha Vujacic scored 19 of his career-high 22 in the final period - including seven in a game-breaking run - as the Lakers outscored the Nuggets 46-24 in the last 12 minutes.

The Nuggets have won three of the last four games between the teams.


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