Nuggets beat slumping Lakers 137-115
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES — Nate Robinson knew he would get a technical foul for hanging on the rim long after his dunk. He stayed up there to underline a point.
After a miserable month, the Denver Nuggets are having fun again — this time at the expense of the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
Ty Lawson had 20 points and 12 assists, Timofey Mozgov added 20 points and seven rebounds, and the Nuggets beat Los Angeles 137-115 Sunday night for their second straight win after an eight-game skid.
Robinson scored 21 points, while Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried added 17 apiece as the Nuggets dropped 77 points on the Lakers in the second half. Robinson defiantly rubbed it in with 2:37 to play, clinging to the rim after his dunk put the Nuggets up by 24 points.
“We just found our niche and found our energy,” said Robinson, who scored 12 during the Nuggets’ 44-point fourth quarter. “We had a tough month, you could say. It’s just that time to turn a new leaf, and just continue to play like we did tonight, and hopefully we can have a snowball effect and we can go streaking again.”
With an overwhelming second-half performance, Denver earned a win for coach Brian Shaw in his first game back at Staples Center to face the Lakers as a head coach. The longtime Lakers guard and assistant coach was passed over for the top job in Los Angeles after Phil Jackson’s departure.
Shaw believes the last few days have been cathartic for the Nuggets, who frayed at the seams during their skid. They played their third straight game without point guard Andre Miller, who is on personal leave until Monday after clashing with Shaw on the bench Wednesday night.
“Stress, grieving, whatever it is, if you hold it in, it will eat you up from the inside,” Shaw said. “I thought we aired out a lot of things, and that clarified for everyone where they stood. … Two-game win streak, but it’s night and day from what it was prior to those last two games.”
Seven Nuggets scored in double figures in their fifth consecutive win over Los Angeles, scoring the most points by any Lakers opponent this season. Denver easily took control with a 17-2 run early in the fourth quarter, remaining unbeaten against the Lakers since November 2012.
The Nuggets outrebounded Los Angeles 58-38 and hit 12 3-pointers, while the Lakers went 3 for 21 on long-distance shots.
Pau Gasol had 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists amid another round of trade rumors with the injury-battered Lakers, who have lost seven of eight.
The 7-foot Spaniard has been sought by Cleveland in recent days for what essentially would be a money-saving move by the wealthy Lakers, and he acknowledges the uncertainty isn’t helpful. Gasol said he played with “just a love for the game and a sense of pride and loyalty to my teammates and myself..”
Fourth-string point guard Kendall Marshall had nine points and a career-high 17 assists in his second straight start for the Lakers, who are without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar due to injury. Marshall set a franchise record with 32 assists in his first two starts for Los Angeles.
“I think we kind of unraveled a bit, and they kept coming and kept scoring and kept hitting difficult shots,” Marshall said.
At 14-20, Los Angeles’ chances of a playoff run are already waning in the continued absence of Bryant, who expressed dismay about the latest uncertainty around his 7-foot Spanish teammate before the game.
Los Angeles has lost seven of its last nine games at Staples Center, but will play just one home game in the next 22 days.
“It’s tough. There’s no sugarcoating it,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’re in a hole, and we put ourselves in this hole. We’ll get guys coming back (from injury). We just have to keep playing hard, keep your head down, go through it.”
NOTES: Dozens of Auburn football fans watched the game from Staples Center’s lower bowl on the night before the BCS championship game at the Rose Bowl. A luxury suite full of fans chanted slogans and held up an orange banner reading “War Eagle.” … Lakers C Robert Sacre needed five stitches to close a cut on his lower lip late in the first half. … Eddie Murphy, Jessica Alba and Mark Wahlberg attended the game.
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