The Nuggets can match their victory total from last season when they visit the Lakers for a matchup of division leaders.
Denver has won seven of its last 10 games and needs one victory to equal its total from last season’s 17-65 campaign.
“This team is totally different from last year,” said Marcus Camby, who blocked seven shots and scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting in Wednesday’s 99-98 victory over Seattle. “We have veteran leadership through free agency. It’s a better ballclub.”
The Nuggets are tied with Minnesota atop the division, percentage points ahead of reigning NBA champion San Antonio.
Carmelo Anthony scored 14 points and made a layup off an inbounds play with six seconds left in Wednesday’s game.
“I saw the opening,” Anthony recalled. “Everybody told me, `Don’t lay it up. Dunk.’ I always lay it up in practice, but it worked. I went to the hole real hard and it went in.”
Andre Miller barely missed a triple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The Nuggets will head into Staples Center to face a rested Lakers squad that has lost two straight games. Los Angeles had its streak of 27 consecutive regular-season home victories end last Friday night against Dallas, then went on to lose in Portland on Saturday, 112-108.
Bryant may miss Friday’s game as he will be at a hearing in Colorado for his rape case that is expected to take all day.