The Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, bringing an end to the Lakers’ undefeated start. Carmelo Anthony went for 32 points in the winning effort, and Denver showed that they still have a bit of fight in that team. The Lakers started the season 8-0, and were leading the game against Denver heading into the fourth quarter. That eight-point lead vanished, though, and a cold night for Kobe Bryant may have been one of the big reasons that Los Angeles fell flat when the game was on the line Thursday.
Anthony was the star for Denver, giving the home crowd a nice show as he scored 32 points and ended up with 13 rebounds. Nene scored 18 points, and Ty Lawson chipped in another 17 points off the bench in order to push the Nuggets over the top. It was the bench play that really got the Nuggets back into the game during that fourth quarter blitz as well, with J.R. Smith knocking down some key shots that helped the Nuggets close the gap. The Nuggets would end up winning the game 118-112, stepping one game over .500 with a season record of 5-4 now. It’s peanuts compared to the Lakers at 8-1, but this could be an important turning point.
The Lakers can’t blame this loss on Pau Gasol, who ended up scoring 17 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in the losing effort. He also had two steals and a block to really flesh out his fantasy stats against Denver. Ron Artest had 18 points and Shannon Brown had 19 points off the bench, but the leading scorer was Kobe Bryant with 34 points. The problem with the output from Bryant, though, was that he shot 11-32 from the field, missing 21 shots (including seven three-pointers) as the Lakers failed to hit shots in the stretch. This is probably something that the Lakers will win with, as they hope he will win more games than he loses for them on the year.
The Lakers still leave Denver as the first-place team in the Pacific Division, but now they drop to having the second-best record in the Western Conference right now. The New Orleans Hornets are still undefeated at 7-0, continuing their extremely hot start and showing that this might be a team that Chris Paul sticks around to play with.
As for Denver, they remain buried in the tough Northwest Division, still trailing the Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz, and Oklahoma City Thunder in the standings. There is still a lot of basketball left in this 82-game season, so the fortunes of either team could still change. Denver’s win on Thursday night could be pretty big, though, and send this team in the exact direction they want to go.