Although the Los Angeles Lakers have inspired plenty of strong emotions during their title-laden history, the Denver Nuggets felt something that's been rare in recent decades.
Ty Lawson had 21 points and 10 assists, Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points and hit a big 3-pointer with 13.8 seconds left, and the visiting Nuggets beat the struggling Lakers 112-105 Sunday night for their fifth win in seven games.
The Nuggets showed no signs of weariness after a home win over Utah one night earlier. Despite two last-minute 3-pointers by Kobe Bryant, Denver calmly maintained a lead throughout the fourth quarter of its second win in 12 days over the Lakers.
"They're struggling," Denver coach George Karl said. "It's a great win for us, but I'm not going to get overinflated."
Staples Center was mostly silent while Los Angeles dropped to 15-18 with another mediocre performance featuring 18 turnovers, intermittent defense and little structured offense down the stretch. Bryant scored 29 points and Dwight Howard had 14 points and a career high-tying 26 rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost three straight and four of five.
Bryant's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left cut Denver's lead
The Nuggets were almost apologetic for the pivotal play.
"It was a lucky bounce," Gallinari said.
The Lakers locker room was as silent as their arena after their eighth home loss of the still-young season.
"I think because of our record, the pressure is building, but so be it," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We have to overcome it, and we can."
After the game, the Lakers said Howard aggravated his right shoulder injury. He will have an MRI exam Monday.
"Everything is against us right now, but we have to keep our heads and stay together," Howard said. "It is tough out there, because everybody expects us to win, but we have to stick together."
Grizzlies 92, Suns 81: Zach Randolph scored 21 points and Rudy Gay added 20 to lead Memphis past host Phoenix.
"It was a good game for us from both ends," Randolph said.
The Grizzlies, who have won three of their last five games, visit the Warriors on Wednesday night.
Phoenix has lost eight of nine and 15 of 20.
Thunder 104, Raptors 92: Russell Westbrook scored 23 points, Kevin Durant had 22 and Oklahoma City beat host Toronto. Serge Ibaka had 19 points and eight rebounds as the Thunder enjoyed a winning start to a stretch that sees it play 11 of 13 on the road.
Heat 99, Wizards 71: LeBron James scored 24 points and host Miami had a rebounding edge for a change to beat woeful Washington.
Rockets: The team suspended first-round pick Royce White without pay for "refusing to provide services" required by his contract. General manager Daryl Morey said the Rockets will continue to work with White in hopes of finding a resolution.
White refused his assignment to Houston's D-League affiliate a week ago. The 16th overall pick in the June draft, White has spent most of the season on Houston's inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder and overall mental health.