NBA Game Summary - LA Lakers at Denver
(Thursday, March 24th)
Final Score: Denver 117, LA Lakers 96
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Earl Boykins came off the bench to score 21 points, leading five players in double figures, as Denver routed the struggling Lakers, 117-96, at the Pepsi Center.
DerMarr Johnson added 20 points and Andre Miller contributed 18 for Denver, which won its fifth straight despite being without the services of center Marcus Camby and power forward Kenyon Martin due to injuries.
"We played hard and we were undermanned tonight," said Boykins. "But it was a big win for us."
Camby sprained his right ankle early in the third quarter of Tuesday's game against Washington and didn't return, while Martin suffered a bruised chest in the same contest.
Carmelo Anthony chipped in 16 while Eduardo Najera added 12 off the pine for the Nuggets, who are now three games ahead of ninth-place Minnesota, which was idle on Thursday and 5 1/2 games in front of the 10th-place Lakers.
"(Andre) Miller controlled the game really well and (Carmelo) Anthony was solid," said Denver head coach George Karl.
Caron Butler paced Los Angeles with a game-high 22 points. Kobe Bryant added 18 and Chucky Atkins scored 10 for the reeling Lakers, who have dropped seven straight and 12 of their last 16 games overall.
The Lakers owned a 30-27 lead after one quarter of play, but Denver would take the lead in the opening stages of the second stanza. Najera's bucket ended a quick 8-2 spurt, staking the Nuggets to a 35-32 lead with 8:30 remaining in the second frame. Denver's margin would grow to 54-49 heading into the break.
The Nuggets gained some breathing room in the third. Miller opened the stanza with a jumper and Johnson followed with a trey as the Nuggets' lead grew to 59-49. Denver started to pull away after Johnson's trey from the top of the key made it a 76-61 game with under four minutes left in the third quarter. The home team then carried a 86-73 advantage into the fourth and the Lakers never threatened from that point on.
The Nuggets continued to pour it on in the final frame as Boykins' short jumper gave Denver a commanding 98-76 lead with around eight minutes to go.
"I thought we were going to win before the game started," added Boykins.
Denver has won 13 of 14 and 14 of its last 16 games...The Nuggets improved to 20-5 under Karl...Los Angeles fell to 11-23 in foreign buildings this season and has dropped 11 of its last 14 road contests...Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom missed his third straight game with a slight tear in his left shoulder...The Nuggets have won 13 of 14 and 14 of their last 16 home contests.
03/24 23:58:05 ET