LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers' loaded starting lineup fell to 0-4 as a unit as the visiting Denver Nuggets dealt Los Angeles a 112-105 loss Sunday night at Staples Center.
Though Lakers starters Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace all scored in double figures, the group remains winless. While Nash missed most of the early part of the season with a leg fracture and only recently returned, things have not looked much better for the team since his return.
Certainly not Sunday night, when the Nuggets used a big third quarter to regain control.
After Los Angeles outscored Denver 34-26 in the second quarter to tie the game at the half, 60-60, the Nuggets fell behind by four midway through the quarter. Denver (20-16) then held Los Angeles to just five points in the final six minutes of the third, seizing a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Though the Lakers (15-18) cut the deficit to as few as three points, the Nuggets took advantage of late turnovers to send Los Angeles to its third straight loss.
After Bryant hit a 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds left, Denver forward Danilo Gallinari scooped up a rebound after a Howard blocked shot and hit a back-breaking 3-pointer. Bryant responded with an off-balance 3-pointer of his own, but the Lakers were forced to foul Denver twice, and the Nuggets hit all four free throws.
Ty Lawson had 21 points and 10 assists to lead Denver, which had six players score in double figures. Gallinari finished with 20 points, and JaVale McGee added 17 off the Denver bench.
Bryant had 29 points on 11-of-26 shooting and added seven assists. World Peace had 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Howard added 14 points and 26 rebounds, but he had just four points in the second half. Gasol scored 11 points, and Nash contributed 10 points and 13 assists, though he turned the ball over five times.
NOTES: Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) missed the game for the Lakers. Gasol (plantar fasciitis), Howard (shoulder), Chris Duhon (back spasms) and Jordan Hill (ankle/herniated disc) played despite their ailments. ... Wilson Chandler (hip) was sidelined for the Nuggets. ... Los Angeles won the season series with the Nuggets last season, 3-1. ... The Lakers defeated Denver in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs last season, 4-3. ... Nash is closing in on the 10,000-assist mark, entering the game just 18 assists shy. He currently ranks fifth on the all-time assist list, behind No. 4 Magic Johnson. ... Nuggets guard Corey Brewer had a career-high 27 points in the Denver's 126-114 in over the Lakers on Dec. 26.