Los Angeles – Chauncey Billups scored a career-high 39 points, including nine 3-pointers, and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 126-113, on Friday night, ending the Lakers’ eight-game home winning streak.
Billups was 12 of 20 from the floor, 9 of 13 from 3-point range and made six of eight 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.
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.
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.
Denver coach George Karl had wondered before the game how the Nuggets would make up Anthony’s 29.7 scoring average.
Billups took all the concern away as he beat up the Lakers in the third quarter, when Los Angeles had its nine-point lead erased on his long-range daggers.
He hit three consecutive 3s to give Denver an 84-83 lead, its first since late in the second quarter. He hit his ninth 3 about 35 seconds later before Shannon Brown’s fastbreak driving layup gave the Lakers a tie at 87.
Ty Lawson took a cue from Billups, making his own 3-pointer and the Nuggets regained a 94-89 lead heading into the fourth.
J.R. Smith and Lawson took over in the final 12 minutes, combining for the Nuggets’ first 12 points and extending their lead to 106-96. Billups became the distributor in the end, finding Arron Afflalo in the left corner for a 3-pointer – one of a season-high 15 by the Nuggets – that made it 121-110.
Smith finished with 27 points and Lawson 13 as six Nuggets reached double figures.
The win allowed the Nuggets to get to .500 on the road at 12-12.
They shot 57 percent from the floor, 68 percent from long-range and 71 percent at the line. The Lakers hit 45 percent from the floor.
Karl and Billups were among Denver’s late arrivals on a rainy night, showing up 60 minutes before tipoff. “A wrong turn and too much traffic,” Karl said. ... Karl said Anthony could return in a few days. ... Denver leads the season series 2-0, having won 105-79 at home in November. ... Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Denzel Washington attended the game. Jamie McCourt, the estranged wife of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, sat courtside after greeting Torre. 1 TARDY NOWITZKI GETS LATE START Dirk Nowitzki did not start Friday for Dallas against Minnesota because he was late for the team’s pregame shootaround. Nowitzki entered the game with 6:48 left in the first quarter and scored 21 points in the Mavericks’ 117-108 loss. The last time the nine-time All-Star played in a reserve role was against San Antonio on Dec. 14, 1999, his second season.
2 MIGRAINE SIDELINES BOGUT Starting center Andrew Bogut was forced to leave the Bucks’ 114-107 victory over the Knicks in New York midway through the first quarter with a migraine. Reserve Ersan Ilyasova stepped into the void and scored a career-high 25 for Milwaukee.
3 IVERSON SITS 76ers guard Allen Iverson will sit out a second straight game because one of his children is ill. Philadelphia beat the Hornets in New Orleans, 101-94.