DENVER (AP) -- The dejected looks to the floor, the grimaces and
smirks after missed shots -- Kobe Bryant's face said it all.
This, like many other recent nights on the road, wasn't much
Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points and helped harass Bryant into a
poor shooting night, leading Denver to a 113-91 rout of the Los
Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in Bryant's first game in
Colorado since he was accused of sexual assault last summer.
Bryant was booed from the start and never found a rhythm
offensively, finishing with 27 points on 8-of-23 shooting with five
"I've been booed before," Bryant said. "I don't listen to
that. I just go out there and play basketball."
A Nuggets-record crowd of 19,739 started booing Bryant during
the introductions and continued every time he touched the ball. A
chant of "Guilty! Guilty!" rang out midway through the third
quarter, and several fans made sexual references throughout the
Bryant kept calm in the first half, but his frustration boiled
over in the third quarter when he grabbed Anthony under the basket
and both players were called for technical fouls.
Bryant regained his composure quickly, patting Anthony on the
back of the head and asking if he was all right after the whistle.
"Every shot he took, you could tell he really wanted this
game," said Anthony, who added eight rebounds and six assists.
The Lakers shot just 38 percent and allowed the Nuggets to
repeatedly drive to the basket, leading to their sixth straight
road loss and fourth straight overall.
"He (Bryant) was animated and feisty out there, and those are
things that we wanted him to do," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
"We just wish the rest of the players could have stepped it up to
the same level."
Anthony had plenty of help.
Andre Miller chipped in to defend Bryant and finished with 20
points and nine assists. Earl Boykins had 22 points, and Nene and
Voshon Lenard added 16 each for Denver, which shot 49 percent to
avoid its first three-game losing streak this season.
"We played the way we needed to play for us to have a chance to
win," Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "We were aggressive, we
were active, we were rebounding, running, moving and sharing."
Bryant has been accused of attacking a 19-year-old employee at a
resort near Vail and faces four years to life in prison or 20 years
to life on probation.
Bryant responded well after his last trip to Colorado on Dec.
19, returning to Los Angeles after a hearing in Eagle to hit a
game-winning jumper at the buzzer that night against the Nuggets.
He played with the same kind of determination this time, with
plenty of grimaces and yells at teammates, but the shots just
Anthony and Miller took turns harassing Bryant, shutting down
his drives and forcing him into difficult fadeaways. He didn't
score until hitting an 18-foot jumper 5:16 into the game, and was
4-of-11 with three turnovers in the first half.
"This isn't anything. He's doing fine. He is getting through
it," Lakers point guard Gary Payton said. "He knows he is going
to get booed, so he takes it in a good way."
The Lakers were blown out by Minnesota on Tuesday night, and the
Nuggets did the same.
Denver pushed the ball early to open the game with a 10-3 run,
allowed Los Angeles to get close late in the first quarter, then
pushed the lead to 63-48 by halftime.
Anthony led the way, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in
the first half.
"The Carmelo and Kobe matchup is going to be a good one," said
Los Angeles' Horace Grant, who started at center with O'Neal out.
"You have two great athletes and they are both competitive. It is
something people have to look forward to."
Shannon Sharpe, Ephraim Salaam and Bert Berry of the Denver
Broncos attended the game. ... O'Neal will have an MRI on Thursday
after missing his third straight game with a calf injury. Malone is
still day-to-day with a knee injury. ... Nuggets C Marcus Camby
went out in the second quarter after being hit above the eye with a
stray elbow. He suffered a corneal abrasion, but returned for the
second half. ... The Nuggets had a 60-37 advantage in rebounds to
end a streak of 10 straight games in which they were outrebounded.
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