By Mike Bresnahan Los Angeles Times January 22, 2011
The Lakers wandered into the eye of the NBA’s biggest storm, the Denver Nuggets, and came away with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
They did something different for a change, grabbing another double-digit lead and actually hanging on to it, putting away the encumbered Nuggets, 107-97, Friday at the Pepsi Center.
Ron Artest outplayed Carmelo Anthony, which deserved a series of exclamation points as long as the Rocky Mountains, and Kobe Bryant put on a show in the third quarter with 14 points and four assists.
Lamar Odom had so many layups and short jumpers that it got burdensome to count them all, the Lakers’ most consistent player this season finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading the way on a big night for the team’s big men.
It was a reminder of how dominant the Lakers can play, the two-time defending champions snapping to life in a seamless second half, their fans easily outnumbering those of the Nuggets as the arena began emptying in the final minutes.
And with that, the Lakers (32-13) improved to 2-5 on the road against teams with winning records, making one wonder how they ever looked so bad Wednesday in Dallas . . . or in general.
Bryant finished with 18 points and seven assists, and Artest had 19 points on pristine eight-for-12 shooting. His assignment, Anthony, had 23 points on 10-for-24 shooting, a point total aided by some meaningless late baskets.
“There’s nights where he’s had good nights and there’s nights where I had good nights,” Artest said. “Tonight was a good night for the team.”
The Lakers had taken comfortable leads in their previous three games, but lost to the Clippers and Dallas after failing to maintain their scoreboard distance.
No such problem Friday. The Lakers trailed by three at halftime but tamped down the Nuggets in the third quarter, 33-20, on the way to