Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/19

Game 1: Friday, December 19th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 7th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 14th
Game 4: Wednesday, February 25th

Nuggets 71


Lakers 97

(24-11, 18-2 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 14, 2004

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 16 19 24 1271
    LAL 26 29 23 1997

    Top Performers

    Den: A. Miller 15 Pts, 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

    LAL: S. Medvedenko 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Medvedenko, Payton lead L.A. charge

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A week after the Lakers' most lopsided loss of the season in Denver, they paid the Nuggets back.

    And Los Angeles did it without three of its best players.

    Slava Medvedenko had 22 points and nine rebounds, Gary Payton added 21 points and six assists and the Lakers beat Denver 97-71 Wednesday night for their third straight victory since a 22-point loss to the Nuggets.

    After that game, several Lakers said the team gave up.

    They haven't lost since.

    "We didn't care about that," Payton said of last week's blowout. "We know what we can do against this team. I think that game in Denver was the worst game we've played. Nobody came prepared and ready to play."

    That wasn't the case in this game. The Lakers handed the Nuggets their most one-sided loss of the season.

    "From start to finish, we just played bad," Denver's Andre Miller said. "No energy, no hustle. We didn't make it easy on ourselves. We didn't pass the ball, we didn't make plays for each other."

    The victory was the 800th for Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He accomplished the feat in 1,101 games, making him the fastest to reach 800 wins in NBA history.

    "I didn't know if it would happen ever," Jackson said. "It seems like these last three weeks, it's been very slow."

    The Lakers had lost six of seven before winning their last three.

    "I'm happy and proud I could be with the Lakers to do that," Jackson said of reaching 800 wins.

    Playing without Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone, the Lakers (24-11) took command by playing a near-flawless first half in taking a 55-35 lead.

    They shot 54.3 percent to Denver's 35.1 percent; outrebounded the Nuggets 20-14, and committed four turnovers while forcing eight in the opening 24 minutes.

    The Nuggets (23-17), who had won three of their previous four games, including the one-sided win over the Lakers, didn't threaten after that.

    Probably the most impressive aspect of the Lakers' performance was their defense, especially considering what Denver has accomplished this season.

    In addition to shredding the Lakers for 113 points on Jan. 7, the Nuggets had scored 100 or more points 21 times in 39 games, including their last four, and entered averaging 97.9 points per game.

    The Lakers wound up shooting 35-of-69 (50.7 percent) to 28-of-78 (35.9 percent) for Denver and outrebounded the Nuggets 40-28.

    "It was not all us," Jackson said. "They obviously missed shots tonight. It was a back-to-back for them."

    The Nuggets beat Phoenix 105-92 on Tuesday night.

    Devean George added 12 points for the Lakers. Payton, George and Horace Grant, who had eight points and 11 rebounds, all sat out the fourth quarter.

    Miller and Voshon Lenard and Andre Miller led Denver with 15 points each. Rookie Carmelo Anthony shot a miserable 4-of-17 in scoring 14 for the Nuggets.

    Bryant missed his first game since spraining his right shoulder Monday night against Cleveland. He is expected to be sidelined a minimum of two to three weeks.

    O'Neal sat out his sixth game since straining his right calf Jan. 2, and Malone missed his 10th game since spraining a ligament in his right knee Dec. 21.

    "We showed we can play without our top guys," Payton said. "We just gutted it down. Everybody played together and we've just got to keep it up. When we play together and pass the ball the way we did and get everybody involved, it's really easy for us. We rebounded the ball and played good defense."

    The Nuggets weren't closer than 16 points in the second half. It was 78-59 entering the fourth quarter, and the Lakers scored the first eight points of the period -- four each by Medvedenko and Derek Fisher -- for a 27-point lead.

    The Lakers outscored the Nuggets 14-3 to finish the first quarter and start the second, putting them ahead 36-19. They led by as many as 22 points before settling for their 20-point halftime lead.

    The Nuggets scored the first four points before the Lakers went on a 22-9 run for a nine-point lead. Grant had seven rebounds at that stage -- three more than the entire Denver team.

    Game notes

    Bryant was placed on the injured list, meaning he must sit out at least five games. The Lakers replaced him by signing G Ime Udoka to a 10-day contract. Udoka played six minutes and scored four points. ... The Nuggets won only four road games and 17 overall last season. They have eight road wins and 23 overall less than halfway through this season. ... Jackson said before the game he wasn't projecting a date for O'Neal's return. "I may have jumped the gun a little bit saying it was up to Shaq," Jackson said, referring to a comment Tuesday when he said O'Neal had been medically cleared to play. ... Grant, who has been starting in O'Neal's place, will leave the team Thursday to be with his ailing father in Georgia. "It could be a few days, it could be a week, I want to get everything situated there with my dad and make sure he has the proper care around him," Grant said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 71 97
    FGM-FGA 28-78 (.359) 35-69 (.507)
    3PM-3PA 4-11 (.364) 1-3 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 11-14 (.786) 26-32 (.813)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-28 10-40
    Assists 15 23
    Turnovers 15 14
    Steals 7 5
    Blocks 3 4
    Fast Break Points 2 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (0/0) 16 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Andre Miller Miller
    Points: 15
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Slava Medvedenko Medvedenko
    Points: 22
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2