Nuggets snap Lakers’ nine-game winning streak

Posted: 04/04/2011 in NBA
Nuggets top surging Lakers, clinch playoff spot
Danilo Gallinari led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds, as the Denver Nuggets snapped the Los Angeles Lakers’ nine-game winning streak and clinched a playoff berth with a 95-90 victory at Staples Center. Kenyon Martin finished with 18 points and eight boards, while Raymond Felton supplied 16 points off the bench for Denver, which has won six straight and 10 of its last 12 overall. The Nuggets are in fifth place in the Western Conference.

“Our big guys fought great and our little guards made good basketball decisions,” Denver head coach George Karl said. “We’re a young team and some of our guys were a little nervous, but our defense kept us in the game.”

Kobe Bryant ended with a game-high 28 points and Lamar Odom contributed 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a reserve role for the Lakers, who are still an impressive 17-2 since the All-Star break. They trail San Antonio, which defeated Phoenix earlier Sunday, by 2 1/2 games for the top spot in the West.

Pau Gasol posted a double-double with 16 points and 12 boards, while Andrew Bynum grabbed a game-best 16 rebounds to go with eight points in defeat.

“They didn’t do anything that we shouldn’t be able to handle,” Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. “It’s about execution. It’s part of the game and we didn’t do a very good job today.”

Trailing by a point, 83-82, with 4:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Felton hit from long range to put the Nuggets in front and spark nine in row. Martin, who came up huge in the closing minutes capped the run with a putback dunk to give Denver a 91-83 advantage with 2:12 to play.

Odom’s triple with 15 seconds on the clock drew LA to within two at 92-90. Forcing to foul on the inbounds pass, the Lakers put Nene at the line. After making the first, he missed the second, but Martin wasn’t blocked out and came in for the putback lay-in to make it a five-point game and essentially seal the victory.

The Nuggets held a slim 21-20 lead after the opening quarter and were ahead by five after Al Harrington drained a three-pointer with 7:13 before the half.

Los Angeles got a turnaround jumper from Bryant to even the game 35-35 a short time later and it would go back-and-forth for the next several minutes.

Bryant finished off a 10-3 run to close the half and put the Lakers in front 47-40 heading into the break.

LA led by six nearly five minutes into the third, but Nene’s finger roll and jumper capped a string of six in a row to tie it at 56-56 and the contest would stay tight throughout the quarter.

Bryant’s free throw finished out the scoring in the closing seconds to make it a 69-69 game after three quarters.

– Steve


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