Final

Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/2

Game 1: Tuesday, November 2nd
Nuggets78Final
Lakers89
Game 2: Sunday, January 2nd
Nuggets91Final
Lakers99
Game 3: Wednesday, January 12th
Lakers83Final
Nuggets95
Game 4: Thursday, March 24th
Lakers96Final
Nuggets117

Lakers 96

(32-36, 11-23 away)

Nuggets 117

(37-30, 24-10 home)

Coverage: ALT

7:00 PM ET, March 24, 2005

Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

1 2 3 4 T
LAL 30 19 24 2396
DEN 27 27 32 31117

Top Performers

Los Angeles: C. Butler 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

Denver: A. Miller 18 Pts, 4 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

L.A. suffers longest losing streak in 11 years

DENVER (AP) -- Sitting on the bench at the end of yet another agonizing loss, Kobe Bryant was stoic as a fan repeatedly yelled "Kobe, how's your wife?"

Talk about pouring it on.

DerMarr Johnson had 20 points and took turns with Greg Buckner harassing Bryant into a quiet second half, helping the Denver Nuggets send the Los Angeles Lakers to their longest losing streak in 11 years with a 117-96 rout Thursday night.

Midseason Replacement Coaching Marks
(min. 20 games)
Season Coach Record Pct.
2004-05 George Karl, Denver 20-5 .800
1979-80 Paul Westhead, L.A. Lakers 50-18 .735
1981-82 Pat Riley, L.A. Lakers 50-21 .704
1977-78 Lenny Wilkens, Seattle 42-18 .700
1977-78 B. Cunningham, Philadelphia 53-23 .697
1958-59 Ed Macauley,
St. Louis
43-19 .694

"It's frustrating for me because I've played on teams where everybody knew the depths of the offense," Bryant said. "At the same time, we have to be patient. We're a young team and even though it may not pay off this year, it may pay off the following year."

Bryant had always played well in Colorado, where he was charged with sexual assault two summers ago. Though he no longer has to deal with the allegations -- the criminal case was dismissed and a civil suit was dropped earlier this month -- his team is in disarray.

Once in control of a playoff spot, the Lakers are rapidly playing themselves out of contention. Los Angeles has lost six straight road games, seven straight overall and has dropped 5½ games behind Denver for the West's final playoff spot after leading the Nuggets by six games two months ago.

"I thought our guys quit in the second half," Lakers coach Frank Hamblen said. "I'm not mad at them, I am just real disappointed in them. It's their livelihood."

As for the Nuggets, they can't seem to do anything wrong.

Denver started off without Marcus Camby (ankle) and Kenyon Martin (chest), then lost Francisco Elson to a sprained ankle early in the third quarter. None of the absences mattered.

Dashing up and down the floor with their usual flair, the Nuggets put a ragged start behind them and turned a close game into a rout by the midpoint of the third quarter.

Playing in front of a franchise-record crowd of 19,866, Denver went on 12-1 run spanning halftime to go up 59-49, then pushed the lead to 76-61 on Johnson's 3-pointer from the corner with three minutes left to pull away.

Earl Boykins had 20 points, Andre Miller had 18 points and six assists, and Carmelo Anthony added 16 points for the Nuggets, who have won five straight and 13 of 14 to move three games ahead of Minnesota for the West's final playoff spot.

"We're good. I don't want to sound cocky, but we're good," Buckner said.

Especially against Bryant.

Bryant received the same treatment he had gotten his previous four trips to Colorado: plenty of boos from introductions to every time he touched the ball.

He didn't seem bothered. Bryant spent the Nuggets' introductions stretching in a walkway next to the Lakers' bench, chatting and shaking hands with a few supportive fans.

He started off the game great, slamming down a left-handed dunk on his first shot, then adding a three-point play on a difficult reverse to draw cheers from a the handful of Lakers fans at Los Angeles' end of the court.

Bryant finished the first half 4-of-9 from the floor and hit all six of his free throws, but couldn't get much going after that.

With Johnson and Buckner following him everywhere and the Nuggets shading plenty of help into the middle, Bryant started off by throwing a wild pass and had a hand in another turnover when he dribbled around the perimeter until the Lakers were called for 3 seconds.

Bryant also dribbled the ball off his leg in the open court and was 1-for-4 in the half.

"I thought DJ's start on him was fantastic and Buck just kept it going," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Bryant finished 5-of-13 for 18 points and had six turnovers, spending the final 4½ minutes watching.

"We are trying, it's not like we aren't," Bryant said. "We are playing hard and teams are just beating us."

Game notes


Official Joe Crawford helped with clean-up duties during a timeout in the second period, getting a piece of paper from a courtside reporter to pull up some gum in front of the Lakers' bench. ... The Lakers are 6-32 when their opponent scores 100 points. ... Los Angeles is on its longest losing streak since dropping 10 straight to end the 1993-94 season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
LAL
DEN
Points 96 117
FGM-FGA 34-86 (.395) 42-87 (.483)
3PM-3PA 6-22 (.273) 10-26 (.385)
FTM-FTA 22-30 (.733) 23-31 (.742)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 18-50 12-41
Assists 17 25
Turnovers 22 15
Steals 8 13
Blocks 5 4
Fast Break Points 11 26
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (3/0) 26 (1/0)
Largest Lead 5 27

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Denver
Caron Butler Butler
Points: 22
Reb: 9
Ast: 1
Stl: 4
Blk: 1
Andre Miller Miller
Points: 18
Reb: 4
Ast: 6
Stl: 2
Blk: 0