Last-second plays doomed both the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers last time out. The two clubs square off on Friday night for a much-needed win as the Lakers host a Nuggets club playing for a second straight night.
The Lakers have been out of action since dropping a 79-77 decision to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, a loss that moved the club to just 2-3 under head coach Mike D'Antoni.
Brought in to increase Los Angeles' scoring tempo, the Lakers shot just 31.6 percent from the floor and were only 23-of-43 from the foul line.
Still, Los Angeles tied the game with 24.5 seconds to play with Kobe Bryant, playing through flu-like symptoms, hitting a three-pointer, but Indiana's George Hill ran the clock to four seconds before making his move to the basket and putting home a high-arching underhanded scoop shot over the shot-blocking Dwight Howard with just one-tenth of a second left on the clock.
"It's hard to win a game when you miss 20 foul shots," D'Antoni said. "Offensively that was tough. There's no way you can play that bad and win. It was just bad shooting."
Bryant managed to post 40 points and 10 rebounds on 12-for-28 shooting, hitting five of his 11 shots from behind the 3-point line while logging 43:44 of action. However, he also turned the ball over 10 times.
"It boggles my mind that I had 10 turnovers. My responsibility is to pick everybody up," said Bryant. "It doesn't matter if we miss 20 free throws, we still could have won the game. The fact is we had 10 possessions where we couldn't get looks at the basket because I turned it over."
Bryant's 40-point game was the 114th of his career, third-most in NBA history behind only Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). It also marked the eighth time in his career in which he scored at least half of his team's points in a game.
Howard netted 17 points, but was just 3-of-12 from the foul line.
The Nuggets had their chances to beat the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, but a missed free throw and a game-ending 3-point attempt that wasn't gotten off in time led to a 106-105 defeat.
Down by three, Andre Iguodala was fouled on a shot attempt from behind the arc and hit the first two free-throw attempts before missing the third. The ball went out of bounds and the Nuggets got the ball back with 2.1 seconds left.
A botched alley-oop pass attempt ran the clock down to 0.5 seconds, but Denver again got the ball back. Iguodala then sunk a 3-point try, but a video review showed that he did not get the shot off in time.
"If I put a stopwatch on it, it seemed the clock started early for me. But there's nothing to argue about. If the camera says it's in his hand, it's in his hand," said Denver head coach George Karl.
Iguodala ended with 22 points, the third time in his last four games that he has scored 20-plus. He is averaging 20.4 ppg over his last five, while Danilo Gallinari added 20 points and nine rebounds to give him averages of 17.7 points and 5.7 rebounds over his last six.
Denver was coming off a 105-103 road loss to Utah on Monday that snapped a four-game slide and the club ends a three-game trip with this game. The Nuggets host Toronto on Dec. 3 and then hit the road for another five straight.
Though the Nuggets have won seven of their past 13 regular-season meetings with the Lakers, Los Angeles knocked Denver out of the first round in last season's playoffs in seven games.
The Lakers have also won 25 of their last 29 at home versus the Nuggets, not including playoffs.