Yahoo! Sports: The Lakers and Nuggets won’t know for another few months who’s got the other’s number. For now, though, give Denver the edge.
Chauncey Billups scored a career-high 39 points, including nine 3-pointers, and the Nuggets won 126-113 Friday night, ending the Lakers’ eight-game home winning streak and improving to 2-0 against them.
Billups was 12 of 20 from the floor, including 9 of 13 from 3-point range, and made 6 of 8 free throws to go with eight assists for the Nuggets, who played without Carmelo Anthony for the seventh straight game because of a sprained left ankle.
“You’ve always got to be confident. There’s a lot of people that can say it, but until you can do it, you’ve got to get that confidence from the right place,” Billups said. “They’re the world champs. But we feel that we can compete with them.”
Billups scored 21 points in the third quarter alone, the most against the Lakers in one period since Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia 76ers had 23 in a game in February 1966. Billups’ nine 3-pointers were the second-most ever against the Lakers.
“He was shooting considerably beyond the line,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I’m just glad that didn’t happen in a playoff game.”
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points on his sprained left ankle, but the first-place Lakers proved no match for the Western Conference’s No. 2 team, the one they beat in last year’s conference finals en route to their 15th NBA championship.
“I could still be effective and play,” Bryant said tersely. “Obviously, I’m not as explosive as I was but I can still command double teams, things like that.”