The Los Angeles Lakers saw their modest five-game win streak come to an end against the Denver Nuggets, who again proved that the Mile-High City is one the toughest road destinations in the NBA. On the strength of a dominant rebounding performance and a balanced offensive attack, the Nuggets easily dispatched Kobe Bryant and the Lakers by a final score of 126-114 Wednesday night.
Bryant finished with a team-high 40 points, but Dwight Howard's third-quarter ejection and the Lakers' overall defensive ineptitude doomed their hopes for the franchise's first six-game winning streak in two years.
Led by Andre Iguodala's stat-stuffing performance, Kenneth Faried's dominance on the glass and Corey Brewer's infectious energy, the Nuggets looked like the team many picked to finish atop the Western Conference before the season started. They used a season-best 39-point third quarter to put the Lakers away for good.
This contest was something of a throwback for L.A., but in the worst way possible. Kobe got his numbers and Steve Nash was his typically efficient self, but terrible interior defense and the inability to stop penetration led to a result much like the ones that marked the Lakers' early-season struggles.
A decisive loss against a tough opponent that has won 90 percent of its home games this year isn't the end of the world for the Lakers, but there's sure to be plenty of hand wringing in Hollywood after this one.
Let's get the conversation started by grading every L.A. Laker's performance.