Lakers drown Nuggets in 3-point deluge

L.A. bench turns in stellar performance

Dwight Howard scored 28 points and pulled in 20 rebounds to lead the Lakers past Kosta Koufos and Denver 122-103 on Friday in Los Angeles. Enlarge photo

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Dwight Howard scored 28 points and pulled in 20 rebounds to lead the Lakers past Kosta Koufos and Denver 122-103 on Friday in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES Antawn Jamison scored 33 points while leading an outstanding game by the Lakers' reserves, and Dwight Howard had 28 points and 20 rebounds before hitting Los Angeles' 17th 3-pointer in the final seconds of a 122-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Jodie Meeks scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers for the Lakers, who improved to 3-3 under Mike D'Antoni while playing splendidly at the furious tempo favored by their new coach.

The Lakers tied the club record for 3-pointers in a regulation game, getting five from Jamison in the first 30-point game by a Lakers reserve since 1998.

Howard capped it with just the second 3-pointer of his career with 9.8 seconds to play.

Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points for the Nuggets, who lost three times on their three-game trip.

Kobe Bryant had 14 points and eight assists for the Lakers, who had lost three of four after scoring 77 points against Indiana three nights earlier.

Just three days after the Lakers' reserves managed just five points in that ugly loss to the Pacers, they produced 61 points against Denver.

The Lakers' bench has been unimpressive for two consecutive seasons, but Jamison and Meeks shot exceptionally well against Denver, while Chris Duhon had a strong playmaking game with eight assists and five points.

Jamison, the high-scoring veteran who signed with Los Angeles for a shot at a title, found the shooting stroke he has lacked for much of the season so far, going 13 of 19 and grabbing 12 rebounds. Shaquille O'Neal was the last Lakers reserve to score more than 30 points in a game.

Meeks was even more accurate, missing just one of his eight 3-point attempts.

Los Angeles led 71-57 at halftime, making 60 percent of its shots in an impressive stretch of offensive basketball. Howard controlled the first quarter with 16 points and five rebounds, playing with obvious motivation, while Meeks put on his shooting clinic in the second quarter, draining his first five 3-point attempts to match his highest-scoring game in his first season with Los Angeles.

The Lakers' lead dwindled to seven points before a 12-2 run, but Jamison and Meeks led a strong fourth quarter while three Lakers starters rested. Jamison hit the Lakers' 16th 3-pointer with 6:51 to play, and the Lakers rolled to the win capped by Howard's improbable 3.

The clubs met for the first time since the Lakers eliminated Denver in the first round of last season's playoffs despite a lively effort by the Nuggets, who fought off elimination twice before Los Angeles won a thrilling Game 7 at home.

The Lakers have changed greatly since that series, with major roster additions and a new coaching staff that likes the same up-tempo style of basketball favored by the Nuggets.

Denver coach George Karl expects the Lakers to be a force in the Western Conference playoff race, saying before the game that he already can see their adjustments to D'Antoni's style.

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