Lakers work hard to defeat Denver
Lakers 95, Nuggets 89 (final)
The Lakers and Denver Nuggets know they have a rivalry.
They met last season in the Western Conference finals, the Lakers wining the series in six games.
The Lakers had lost the first two games this season to the Nuggets, but .LA. pulled out a hard-fought, intense game this afternoon at Staples Center.
The Lakers and Nuggets meet in April at Denver for the last regular-season game. L.A. now leads Denver by 5 1/2 games for the best record in the Western Conference.
The Lakers had to dig down on defense to get this win.
Once down by 13 point, they took their first lead since the first quarter on a running left-handed bank shot by Lamar Odom (20 points, 12 rebounds) as he was moving to his left early in the fourth quarter.
But the game was for from over, as both the Lakers and Nuggets pushed each other to the end.
When official Courtney Kirkland called Carmelo Anthony for an offensive foul against Ron Artest's tough defense, Anthony had fouled out with 2:13 left and the Nuggets trailing, 93-89.
Kobe Bryant (14 points, 12 assists) and Odom ran over to Artest and rubbed him on the head. Artest threw his hands in the air.
Anthony finished with 21 points on seven-for-19 shooting; Artest knowing did the job on Anthony.
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest slaps the ball from Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter Sunday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times