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MILE-HIGH LOW FOR LAKERS DENVER - In his conversation with reporters before Friday's game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson insisted his team doesn't consider Denver a true rival yet.

The fired-up Nuggets spent the next three hours trying to get him to reconsider.

Denver exacted a bit of revenge against the Lakers in the rematch of last year's bitterly contested Western Conference Finals, turning a two-point halftime lead into a shockingly one-sided 105-79 victory.

The Lakers' 23 second-half points were the least they've scored in a half in franchise history. Their previous low was 24 in the second half against Memphis in 2004.

"No one stepped up the second half and played ball," Jackson said. "They (the Nuggets) know what happened last year and what it felt like. We told our players it was much more important to them than it was to us tonight and you guys have to meet that challenge. We weren't able to do it."

What already would have been a challenging road game against a Western Conference contender became more difficult for the Lakers because of the quirks of the NBA schedule. As a result of playing a nationally televised game against Phoenix on Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Lakers' flight didn't take off until after midnight and the team didn't arrive at its hotel until about 4 a.m.

Jackson refused to use that as an excuse, pointing out the schedule worked in his team's favor the previous night when the Suns arrived in their seventh city in 10 days "tired and heavy-legged."

Still, the fatigue was evident every time Andrew Bynum (19 points) half-heartedly tried for a rebound, every time Lamar Odom picked up a lazy reach-in foul and every time Kobe Bryant (19) failed to get deep position in the post.

Bryant shrugged off the suggestion that the back-to-back games might have contributed to the poor second half, but Bynum admitted, "Altitude was definitely the enemy tonight.

"But a lot of it had to do with our lack of playing team Basketball," he added. "We dumped it in, and everybody stood still."

Instead of moving the ball efficiently as they had throughout their 7-1 start, the Lakers grew stagnant on offense and settled for mostly contested jumpers. They were within two points at halftime only because enough of those shots went down, Bryant and Ron Artest each making off-balance three-pointers late in the second quarter to bail out their teammates.

The Nuggets (7-3) finally made LA pay in the second half, reeling off 10 straight points to start the third quarter, holding the Lakers without a point for more than four minutes and limiting them to a season-low eight in the quarter.

Carmelo Anthony had eight of his game-high 25 points during the surge, scoring transition layups off a blocked shot by Chauncey Billups, a jump ball won by Kenyon Martin and his own steal of an errant Bynum pass.

Denver's lead ballooned to 23 at the end of the third quarter, 27 by the time Jackson pulled the last of his starters early in the fourth and 29 a few moments later.

The Lakers shot just 23 percent in the second half.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 16, 2009


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