Andrew Bynum was strong in his return for the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 29 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and blocking two shots in 32 minutes, leading the Lakers to a 92-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. Bynum had a key block immediately followed by the go-ahead layup with 1:52 remaining in the game.
The Lakers trailed 89-84 with 3:40 remaining, but scored the final eight points of the game for their third straight win. Danilo Gallinari had a breakaway layup with less than two seconds remaining that would have tied the game for the Nuggets, but he missed it.
Al Harrington led Denver with 21 points off the bench. Harrington single-handedly outscored the Lakers' bench, who put up 16 points against the Nuggets two days after scoring 40 against the New York Knicks. Harrington missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied it.
Kobe Bryant nearly had a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, but didn't play particularly well, especially in the final minute with a turnover and an ill-advised three-point attempt.
The Lakers had success going inside all game, as Bynum and Pau Gasol combined to make 20 of 28 from the field (71.4%) and the Lakers had a 50-36 rebound advantage over Denver. But the Lakers couldn't buy a bucket from outside, as they made just two of 24 three-pointers (8.3%).
The Lakers head to Denver to battle the Nuggets again on Sunday night to complete their home-and-home series.
Andrew Bynum scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in the first half of his first game of the season, as the Los Angeles Lakers lead the Denver Nuggets 46-45 at halftime on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. The Lakers are in search of their third straight win.
With Bynum's return, the Lakers made a concerted effort to get the ball into the post in the opening 24 minutes. Pau Gasol scored 11 points and had three rebounds himself, and he and Bynum combined to make 10 of 14 field goal attempts in the first half.
Kobe Bryant, who led the Lakers in scoring in each of the first four games of the season, didn't score Saturday until 3:40 remaining in the second quarter. But Kobe scored on three consecutive possessions to give the Lakers the lead, and ended the half with eight points. Bryant needs 13 points to reach 28,000 in his career.
Nene Hilario and Andre Miller each scored nine points to lead the Nuggets. Ty Lawson, who averaged 21.0 points per game to lead the Nuggets through the first three games of the season, scored two points and had four assists in the first half.
Kobe Bryant has led the Los Angeles Lakers in scoring in each of their first four games this season. If he continues down that path on Saturday against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center, he will likely reach another scoring milestone in his illustrious career. Bryant needs just 21 points to become the sixth player in NBA history with 28,000 points.
At 33 years, 130 days old Bryant would be the youngest ever to reach the 28,000-point plateau. He was the youngest to reach 23,000, 24,000, 25,000, 26,000 and 27,000 points in NBA history. Here are the five players in league history to score 28,000 points.
The Los Angeles Lakers look for their third consecutive win on Saturday afternoon as they host the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center, and center Andrew Bynum returns for his first game of the season. Bynum served a four-game suspension for a hit on J.J. Barea during the playoffs last season. Here are the relevant details of Saturday's contest:
Records: Lakers (2-2), Nuggets (2-1)
Location: Staples Center, downtown Los Angeles
Time: 12:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports West, with Bill Macdonald and Stu Lantz on the call.
Welcome Back: Bynum averaged 12.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and two blocks in two games against Denver last season.
Leading Scorers: Kobe Bryant has led the Lakers in scoring in all four games and is averaging 27.8 points per game this season. He needs just 21 points to become the sixth player in NBA history with 28,000 career points. Ty Lawson leads the Nuggets in scoring so far this season, averaging 21.0 points per contest.
Rare Afternoon: This is a rare Saturday afternoon game, one of just two on the schedule for the Lakers at Staples Center this season. The Lakers also play New Orleans on March 31 at 12:30 p.m. PST. The Lakers usually don't play Saturday home games at all, but with the lockout-truncated season exceptions had to be made.
History: The Lakers have beaten the Nuggets in seven of their last 10 meetings at Staples Center, but lost in their last meeting in Los Angeles, a 95-90 win on April 3, 2011. The Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 regular season meetings with Denver.