Lakers still in slump

Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 29 points but his sinking Lakers lost yet again.

LOS ANGELES – Ty Lawson posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 assists last night to help Denver Nuggets hand the Los Angeles Lakers a third straight NBA defeat, 112-105 at the Staples Centre.

Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Nuggets, draining a big three-pointer with 13.8 seconds remaining to stretch Denver’s lead to 108-102 after Lakers star Kobe Bryant had trimmed the deficit to three points with a three-pointer.

Bryant led the Lakers with 29 points, 18 of them in the fourth quarter. Dwight Howard scored 14 points and tied his career high of 26 rebounds with four blocked shots and Steve Nash added 10 points and 13 assists.

But Bryant said the Lakers had too many defensive lapses and too many mistakes, including 18 turnovers.

“We’ve just got to try to focus on the next one,” Bryant said. “We’ve got to execute better … we’ve got to buckle down and try to minimise mistakes.”

Coach Mike D’Antoni admitted that the Lakers’ slump, dropping them to 15-18 for the season, increased the pressure on the team.

“That’s the way it is and we’ve got to overcome it … We can’t shrug our shoulders or hang our heads. We’ve got to go out and fight as a unit.”

The Nuggets notched their fifth win in seven games as Andre Miller scored 12 points with 10 assists and JaVale McGee added 17 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

Elsewhere, LeBron James scored 24 points, Ray Allen added nine of his 20 during a 21-0 closing run over the final seven minutes and the Miami Heat pulled away to beat the visiting Washington Wizards 99-71.

Frenchman Kevin Seraphin netted a team-high 14 points for the league-worst Wizards (4-28), who shot a frosty 36 per cent from the field and were outscored 30-11 in the fourth quarter en route to their fifth straight setback.

The league-best Oklahoma City Thunder rolled the Toronto Raptors 104-92 for their fifth win in the past six games.

Alan Anderson netted 27 points while Amir Johnson added 19 for the hosting Raptors who have dropped two straight after winning eight of nine

In Detroit, the visiting Charlotte Bobcats won 108-101, just their second victory in the past 21 games, to snap the Pistons’ season-high four-game winning streak.

Tayshaun Prince paced the Pistons with 21 points while Greg Monroe had 18 with 14 rebounds and six assists.

In Phoenix, the visiting Memphis Grizzlies won their third in a row 91-81 while sending the struggling Phoenix Suns to their eighth loss in nine games despite a career-high 17 from P.J. Tucker.††

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