The Denver Nuggets were one of the hottest offensive teams in the NBA when they made their first trip to Staples Center. Since then, they’ve been one of the coldest.
The Nuggets look to snap out of their offensive funk when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday in a matchup of two of the NBA’s highest-scoring teams.
Denver (9-6) took a six-game win streak into Los Angeles when it faced the Clippers on Nov. 21. The Nuggets shot 50.3 percent in winning those six games by an average of 20.8 points, but shot just 39.1 percent and lost 101-90 to the Clippers.
That was the first of four straight games in which Denver has shot worse than 40.0 percent from the field, with the Nuggets dropping three of those contests.
On Tuesday, the Nuggets gave up the first 15 points and trailed 21-3 against Indiana before rallying to get back into the game. They led by as many as seven late in the third quarter, but eventually fell 112-110.
Injury-plagued Denver lost the lead while missing seven of its first eight shots in the fourth quarter and trailed the rest of the way.
“We got behind so much in the beginning, and we had to use so much energy trying to get back into the game, being so short-handed, it was tough on us,” said Denver guard Allen Iverson, who had 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds but shot 6-for-21 from the field.
Carmelo Anthony added 25 points and seven rebounds, but missed 12 of 21 shots. He’s shooting 50.5 percent in the Nuggets’ nine wins, but 35.5 percent in their six losses.
Despite their recent shooting woes, the Nuggets are still among the league leaders in scoring at 105.5 points per game. The Lakers are just behind them with 105.2.
Los Angeles (8-6) snapped a three-game skid with a 106-99 victory over Seattle on Tuesday. The Lakers nearly blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, but held on to win for the fourth time in five home games.
“I didn’t like the way we finished up,” coach Phil Jackson said. “We had a 15-point lead, then we were wandering around defensively and started doing some things I didn’t like.
“It’s the sign of a young team that’s still unbridled and still undisciplined. I’m not happy with that game, but it was a win.”
Kobe Bryant had 35 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and passed Bernard King for 32nd place on the all-time scoring list. Bryant has 19,686 points, 25 behind John Stockton in 31st.
The Nuggets could get a boost from Kenyon Martin if the oft-injured forward is able to return Thursday. Martin, who has undergone microfracture surgery on both knees the last two years, missed Denver’s last game with another knee injury. An MRI on Monday revealed only a bone bruise, and he is day-to-day.
After losing their first game against the Lakers last season while Anthony was serving a league suspension, the Nuggets went on to win the teams’ next three meetings. Anthony averaged 30.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals in those games.
Bryant, meanwhile, averaged 23.8 points on 38.2 percent shooting in the four games against the Nuggets last season.