Saturday, February 28, 2009
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Nuggets end skid against Lakers with 90-79 win

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[February 28, 2009]  DENVER (AP) -- J.R. Smith scored 22 points and the Denver Nuggets beat Kobe Bryant and cold-shooting Los Angeles 90-79 on Friday night to end a nine-game losing streak against the Lakers.

The Nuggets got solid performances from reserves Smith and Chris Andersen, who tied a career high with seven blocks, pulled down 12 rebounds and chipped in 11 points.

The Lakers has their second-worst shooting night since the franchise moved to Southern California from Minneapolis - 29.8 percent. They were on pace for their worst night ever when Jordan Farmar's breakaway layup with 5.1 seconds left allowed them to beat the old low-water mark of 29.4 percent set against Utah in 2004.

Bryant scored 29 points but he needed 31 shots to do it, sinking 10 of them.

The Lakers had won six straight.

Carmelo Anthony had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, and Chauncey Billups scored 22. But it was the reserves that ended Los Angeles' hex - the Lakers had won five straight regular-season games plus a four-game sweep in the playoffs last year when the Nuggets became the first 50-win team to get shut out in the postseason.


Four nights after suffering a 38-point blowout by Boston at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets hung tough with the Lakers, leading 46-40 at halftime and 66-63 after three quarters before pulling away.

Andersen led the way, pulling down a key rebound and rejecting a shot at one end and making two nifty layups at the other to help the Nuggets stretch their lead to 74-63.

Denver center Nene returned from a two-game absence with a bruised right knee. He didn't start but he did enter the game sooner than the Nuggets had hoped because Johan Petro picked up his third foul less than 3 minutes into the game.

The Nuggets had missed Nene's toughness in the paint, getting crushed by Boston and edging a short-handed Hawks team by a point on Wednesday night.

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Los Angeles made just six of 23 shots in the first quarter but led 19-16 thanks to eight offensive boards. The Lakers never found a rhythm and lost to the Nuggets for the first time since 2007.

Bryant's free throws made it 52-50 with 8 minutes left in the third quarter, L.A.'s first lead since the 10:53 mark of the second, and Derek Fisher followed with a fast-break 3-pointer to cap a 15-4 second-half start for the Lakers.

Notes:@ The Nuggets' last win against Los Angeles came on April 9, 2007, when they beat the Lakers 115-111 at the Pepsi Center. ... The teams were a combined 2-for-19 from 3-point range in the first half. Overall, L.A. was 2-for-21 and Denver 3-for-21 from long range.

[Associated Press; By ARNIE STAPLETON]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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