DENVER — It’s a good thing Danilo Gallinari was a late scratch for the Denver Nuggets. With a bruised left thigh, he couldn’t have kept up with his hustling teammates as they sped past the aged and aching Los Angeles Lakers.
Wilson Chandler scored 23 points in place of Gallinari, and Ty Lawson added 22 in the Nuggets’ 119-108 win Monday night in which Denver outscored the Lakers 33-3 on the fast break and 78-50 in the paint.
“The fast-break points, that’s a killer,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “That team is like a track team over there.”
And the Lakers were like a bunch of shuffleboarders, trailing all night long as they trudged through the second game of a difficult back-to-back.
“First, we know that they played last night,” Lawson said. “Coming into the altitude, also they’re a little slow getting back. So, once they miss a shot, it seemed like a jailbreak. Everybody was trying to run downcourt and get the layup.”
Or the arena-shaking slam dunk.
Or the rim-rattling alley-oop jam.
Corey Brewer also got extended minutes with Gallinari out, and he scored 16, many in transition. Even seldom-used reserves Anthony Randolph and Jordan Hamilton joined in the fast-break fun.
Gallinari, the Nuggets’ leading scorer, wasn’t needed as the Nuggets won their ninth straight game at home, snapped the Lakers’ three-game winning streak and took the season series from their longtime nemesis, 3-1.
Coming off a down-to-the-wire win at Dallas the day before, Bryant led the Lakers with 29 points, and his fadeaway jumper with five minutes left cut Denver’s lead to 106-99, but the Lakers got no closer.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
PIERCE LEADS CELTICS IN OT — At Salt Lake City, Paul Pierce scored 26 points, including seven straight in overtime, and Boston beat Utah 110-107 to close out a five-game road trip.
THUNDER — Oklahoma City signed veteran Derek Fisher, filling an opening for a third point guard created when Eric Maynor was traded to Portland.