An elbow to the chin staggered Timofey Mozgov for only a moment.
Shaking off the blow, the 7-foot-1 center went on to match his career high with 23 points, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-99 on Wednesday night to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
”It’s OK. It’s basketball. You just have to keep playing, if you can,” said Mozgov, who fell to the floor but quickly scrambled to his feet after taking an inadvertent elbow from Jordan Hill when the Lakers’ forward went in for a jump hook during the third quarter.
”He was like a good, old Russian boxer, didn’t give in,” said teammate Nate Robinson. ”I just love the way he plays, he competes. He doesn’t complain, just plays hard.”
Mozgov also had nine rebounds and four blocked shots to help first-year Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, who was part of five championship teams with the Lakers as a player and assistant coach, beat Los Angeles in his first matchup against his former team.
”We played big and pretty much just dominated inside and kept the pressure on them by running the floor,” Shaw said.
Kenneth Faried joined Mozgov in mixing it up in the paint, scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
”They’re good players,” Hill said. ”It was their night. Defensively, we didn’t help each other the way we’re supposed to and it cost us.”
Ty Lawson added 19 for the Nuggets, who won their fourth straight against the Lakers, their longest winning streak against Los Angeles since 1994.
”They just came at us,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”We didn’t react very well to their speed and athleticism. That was a recurring theme throughout the game, their athleticism. They just beat us to the ball. Their foot speed was more than ours most of the time.”
Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 25 points.
Both teams have been impacted by injuries, though the Nuggets were bolstered by the return of forward Wilson Chandler, who saw his first action of the season after missing the first six games with a strained left hamstring. Chandler scored 12 points, making a pair of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers are still without Kobe Bryant, who continues to recover from surgery last spring to repair to a torn Achilles’ tendon, and Steve Nash remains sidelined by a nerve problem in his back.
Nuggets center JaVale McGee is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left leg and Danilo Gallinari is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery stemming from an injury late last season.
Mozgov jammed home a dunk to put the Nuggets up by 10 with 36 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Lakers scored six straight points to close the period, starting with a 3-pointer by Nick Young to pull to 83-79 going into the fourth.
The Nuggets again pulled away, scoring 10 of the first 13 points starting the final period, including a layup by Robinson off a stolen inbounds pass, putting Denver in front 93-82.
After a basket by Gasol and a free throw by Hill helped the Lakers narrow the gap to 93-87, the Nuggets responded with a 10-0 run that included two 3-pointers by Chandler and a pair of free throws by Mozgov for a 16-point cushion with about 5 minutes remaining.
It was more than the Lakers could overcome.
The Lakers pulled to 60-54 at halftime after trailing by as many as 13 points earlier.
Chandler also hit a couple of 3-pointers in the last 4 minutes of the second quarter to help offset a 7-0 run that the Lakers used to get close.
NOTES: The 60 first-half points and the final points total both represented season highs for the Nuggets. . . . Mozgov has come off the bench to score in double figures in five of the first seven games. . . . The Lakers lost the back end of a back-to-back after beating New Orleans the night before. . . . Gasol has had 25 points and 12 rebounds in the same game 54 times in his career. . . . Mozgov also had 23 points on Jan. 30, 2011 against Detroit while with the New York Knicks.