Kobe Bryant scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol each logged double-doubles and rookie guard Andrew Goudelock continued to impress with 13 points off the bench.
And still, it almost wasn't enough. After trailing by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, Denver had a chance to win before Al Harrington's step-back three-pointer missed, with Matt Barnes grabbiong the rebound and getting fouled with two-tenths of a second left, securing the Lakers' second consecutive road victory.
The Lakers helped the Nuggets rally by being called for a pair of fourth-quarter technical fouls, one on Bynum and another on Barnes. Gasol also committed a late turnover on a behind-the-back pass that eventually led to a dunk by Nene that pulled the Nuggets to within 91-89.
Bynum was involved in another controversial play when he missed a layup with 12 seconds left but indicated he was fouled by Nene. Video replays appeared to show Nene hitting Bynum on the arm without touching the ball, which went out of bounds to the Nuggets, setting up their final play.
"We made it tough on ourselves down the stretch," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "The missed call [on Nene] was tough to swallow. We didnt' execute well, but we got a clean dunk but didn't get the call."
Said Bynum: "I can just let it go. It really wasn't that bad."
In his first game since becoming an All-Star for the first time, Bynum had 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. Gasol finished with 13 points and a season-high 17 rebounds. Derek Fisher also was clutch for the Lakers, making a jumper to give them a 91-87 lead and making a steal in the final minute.
Goudelock made six of 10 shots and has averaged 11.8 points in his last six games.
"He's found his niche," Bryant said. "He comes in off the bench and he lights it up."
The Lakers improved to 3-7 on the road and will go for a third consecutive road win on Saturday against Utah in Salt Lake City, where they pulled out a triumph in overtime last month.
"I've been telling everybody we're going to be fine," Bryant said. "I mean, it's the start of the year and it's tough to kind of get out on the road. We've had some very tough opponents to start the season on the road. We're kind of getting used to everything with no practices. We're going to be A-OK."
--Ben Bolch in Denver
Photo: Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov tries to cut off the drive of Lakers power forward Pau Gasol in the first half Friday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Credit: Jack Dempsey / Associated Press