DENVER (AP) — Reflecting on his game during a monthlong recovery from a broken left rib has helped Ty Lawson come back strong.
Kenneth Faried scored a career-high 32 points, Lawson had 30 in his third game back from the injury and the Denver Nuggets beat the skidding Los Angeles Lakers 134-126 on Friday night.
“When you sit out, you watch a lot of tape from a lot of games and I could see things opening up or things I wasn’t taking,” said Lawson, averaging 27 points and 11.6 assists since his return. “It’s been helping me shooting the 3s, and making them, and it’s opened up the rest of my game, the mid-range shots, getting to the basket and getting more assists.”
Lawson shot 5 of 7 on 3-pointers and had 17 assists, matching his career high. Faried grabbed 13 rebounds and Wilson Chandler scored 19 points. Timofey Mozgov and Evan Fournier added 13 points apiece for the Nuggets, who swept the three-game season series.
Fournier said it’s evident by Lawson’s recent play that he put his time away from the game to good use.
“When you’re injured, you have the time to relax and think of what you can do better,” Fournier said. “He’s so fast. He’s so good. I’m just glad he’s back on the team because he brings so much for us.”
Certainly more than the Lakers could deal with on this night.
“He is fast, he can shoot, he can do everything,” Lakers swingman Xavier Henry said. “He had a good game and you take your hat off to him.”
Los Angeles got 27 points from Pau Gasol but could not avoid its third straight defeat and sixth in eight games. This one ensured the club’s first losing season since going 34-48 in 2004-05.
Jordan Farmar and Robert Sacre had 24 points apiece for the Lakers, who were coming off a 142-94 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. The 48-point defeat was the biggest in franchise history for the Lakers, who have given up an average of 136 points in their last three losses.
“You can’t win that way,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We are trying everything we can do. … I don’t know if the air has gone out or we are tired or what the problem is.”
Trailing by 19 heading into the fourth quarter, the Lakers put together a 9-2 spurt to pull to 117-104 with 7:40 remaining. But they couldn’t cut the lead below double digits until the final 1:30, and Faried responded with a layup on the other end before Gasol put in a final basket that still left the Lakers well short.
“I know I’m tired of it and our team is tired of it, but our defense needs to get better,” Sacre said. “That’s the key, our defense. If we get guys (opponents) averaging 140 points each night, it’s not good enough.”
Faried hit a reverse layup in the final moments of the second quarter to push Denver’s lead at halftime to 77-66 in what was its highest-scoring opening half of the season.
The Lakers had pulled into a 55-all tie when Farmar and Ryan Kelly hit 3-pointers sandwiched around a 3 by Randy Foye, but the Nuggets gained some separation with a 10-0 burst that began and ended on baskets by Lawson.
Denver led 42-35 after the first quarter, surpassing its previous high for points in the first by a point.
NOTES: Gasol played in his 898th career game, ranking 29th among active players. … The Nuggets’ previous high in the first half was 69 points against Orlando on Jan. 11. … Faried had his 58th career double-double. Denver is 47-11 in those games. … The Lakers had 47 rebounds to 43 for Denver, snapping a string of 11 consecutive games in which they were outrebounded.
BY DENNIS GEORGATOS, Associated Press
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