DENVER (AP)—The dejected looks to the floor, the grimaces and smirks after missed shots—Kobe Bryant’s face said it all.
This, like many other recent nights on the road, wasn’t much fun.
Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points and helped harass Bryant into a poor shooting night, leading Denver to a 113-91 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in Bryant’s first game in Colorado since he was accused of sexual assault last summer.
Bryant was booed from the start and never found a rhythm offensively, finishing with 27 points on 8-of-23 shooting with five turnovers.
“I’ve been booed before,” Bryant said. “I don’t listen to that. I just go out there and play basketball.”
A Nuggets-record crowd of 19,739 started booing Bryant during the introductions and continued every time he touched the ball. A chant of “Guilty! Guilty!” rang out midway through the third quarter, and several fans made sexual references throughout the game.
Bryant kept calm in the first half, but his frustration boiled over in the third quarter when he grabbed Anthony under the basket and both players were called for technical fouls.
Bryant regained his composure quickly, patting Anthony on the back of the head and asking if he was all right after the whistle.
“Every shot he took, you could tell he really wanted this game,” said Anthony, who added eight rebounds and six assists.
The Lakers shot just 38 percent and allowed the Nuggets to repeatedly drive to the basket, leading to their sixth straight road loss and fourth straight overall.
“He (Bryant) was animated and feisty out there, and those are things that we wanted him to do,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We just wish the rest of the players could have stepped it up to the same level.”
Anthony had plenty of help.
Andre Miller chipped in to defend Bryant and finished with 20 points and nine assists. Earl Boykins had 22 points, and Nene and Voshon Lenard added 16 each for Denver, which shot 49 percent to avoid its first three-game losing streak this season.
“We played the way we needed to play for us to have a chance to win,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We were aggressive, we were active, we were rebounding, running moving and sharing.”
Bryant has been accused of attacking a 19-year-old employee at a resort near Vail and faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation.
Bryant responded well after his last trip to Colorado on Dec. 19, returning to Los Angeles after a hearing in Eagle to hit a game-winning jumper at the buzzer that night against the Nuggets.
He played with the same kind of determination this time, with plenty of grimaces and yells at teammates, but the shots just weren’t falling.
Anthony and Miller took turns harassing Bryant, shutting down his drives and forcing him into difficult fadeaways. He didn’t score until hitting an 18-foot jumper 5:16 into the game, and was 4-of-11 with three turnovers in the first half.
“This isn’t anything. He’s doing fine. He is getting through it,” Lakers point guard Gary Payton said. “He knows he is going to get booed, so he takes it in a good way.”
The Lakers were blown out by Minnesota on Tuesday night, and the Nuggets did the same.
Denver pushed the ball early to open the game with a 10-3 run, allowed Los Angeles to get close late in the first quarter, then pushed the lead to 63-48 by halftime.
Anthony led the way, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the first half.
“The Carmelo and Kobe matchup is going to be a good one,” said Los Angeles’ Horace Grant, who started at center with O’Neal out. “You have two great athletes and they are both competitive. It is something people have tolook forward to.”
Shannon Sharpe, Ephraim Salaam and Bert Berry of the Denver Broncos attended the game. … O’Neal will have an MRI on Thursday after missing his third straight game with a calf injury. Malone is still day-to-day with a knee injury. … Nuggets C Marcus Camby went out in the second quarter after being hit above the eye with a stray elbow. He suffered a corneal abrasion, but returned for the second half. … The Nuggets had a 60-37 advantage in reboundsto end a streak of 10 straight games in which they were outrebounded.