Lakers hit 17 3-pointers, win 122-103 over Denver
By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES — By the time Dwight Howard stepped back and oh-so-coolly hit just the second 3-pointer of his entire career in the closing seconds, it didn’t even seem weird to the Los Angeles Lakers.
With so many unlikely numbers in improbable places on that bulging scoresheet, what was one last long-distance shot for a team that finally discovered its elusive rhythm?
Antawn Jamison scored 33 points while leading an outstanding game by the Lakers’ reserves, and Howard had 28 points and 20 rebounds before hitting Los Angeles’ 17th 3-pointer to close a 122-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.
Jodie Meeks scored 21 points on a career high-tying seven 3-pointers for the Lakers, who improved to 3-3 under Mike D’Antoni while playing at the furious tempo favored by their new coach.
After managing just 77 points against Indiana three nights earlier in their third loss in four games, the Lakers’ dazzling offensive display suggested D’Antoni is making progress after all.
“It’s the way we want to play,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve got a lot of talent out there, and it’s got to mesh, and the ball has got to move. … So many guys had good games. I just thought the ball was moving better — just a lot of good things happening.”
Kobe Bryant had 14 points and eight assists for the Lakers, who moved the ball to the tune of 33 assists while making 54 percent of their shots. They also tied the club record for 3-pointers in a regulation game, getting five from Jamison in the first 30-point game by a Lakers reserve since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 1998.
Jamison, the high-scoring veteran who signed with Los Angeles for a shot at a title, found the shooting stroke he has lacked for much of the season so far, going 13 for 19 and grabbing 12 rebounds while taking more shots than Bryant or Howard.
“Give me some minutes, and I can make something happen,” Jamison said. “I was just able to feed off those guys looking for me. Once I do that, I get into a rhythm, and from there, they don’t know what to do.”
The Lakers’ bench has been unimpressive for two straight seasons, but Jamison and Meeks shot exceptionally well against Denver, while Chris Duhon had a strong playmaking game with eight assists and five points.
After the Lakers’ reserves managed just five points in that ugly loss to the Pacers, they produced 61 points against Denver.
Meeks and Jamison talked before the game about their meager production this season, noting neither had played a particularly strong game at home.
“I had some big games in college, but not too many games where I only missed two shots,” said Meeks, who went 7 for 9 overall and missed just one of his eight 3-point attempts. “I think everybody is more confident now. We’re at .500, so we’ve got to get over .500 and keep rolling.”
Danilo Gallinari scored