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Van Exel helps hand Lakers their second straight road loss
Posted: Tuesday February 23, 1999 02:18 AM
DENVER (AP) -- Through 48 minutes, Nick Van Exel was a woeful 1-for-12 against his former teammates. He even hit the side of the backboard on a driving layup.
"I knew my shot wasn't there, so I just tried to make everybody else better and get them some good looks," Van Exel said. "When I came in, I said I wanted to run the pick-and-roll and get guys open and see if somebody else could knock the shots down."
Nuggets coach Mike D'Antoni said Van Exel did what he had to.
"He's got to be our leader," the coach said. "He shot 3-for-16, but who cares? If you can run the plays and get guys involved and just rally them around, that's good."
The Nuggets, winning for only the second time this season, forced overtime thanks to 15 fourth-quarter points from Chauncey Billups, who helped rally Denver from a 12-point deficit early in the period.
Antonio McDyess, hobbled after suffering a bruised left quadriceps early in the third quarter, had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Nuggets. Raef LaFrentz and Billups added 20 points each, and LaFrentz had six in OT.
The Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal scored 28 points but fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Kobe Bryant had 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and Elden Campbell came off the bench to score 24 before he, too, fouled out with 1:06 left in overtime.
"I know Van Exel didn't shoot the ball well all night," Lakers coach Del Harris said, "but he got the ball to the right people. His assisting was spectacular.
"We outrebounded them and outshot them, but the game came down to them going to the line 51 times and their making the 3s."
The Nuggets hit 12 of 28 shots from 3-point range compared to the Lakers' 4 of 15, and also hit 39 of 51 free throws compared to the Lakers' 21 of 33.
Harris said his team was tired from its current road trip, but insisted the imminent signing of Dennis Rodman has not been a distraction.
Billups' 3-pointer and pair of free throws cut the Lakers' lead to 94-91 with 7:15 left in regulation. Another 3-pointer by Billups gave Denver a 104-103 lead with 54 seconds remaining, but O'Neal's free throw produced overtime.
Van Exel hit a 3-pointer early in overtime, and LaFrentz followed with a reverse layup on a feed from Van Exel, a 3-pointer and a free throw to make it 113-106.
Van Exel added a driving layup and two free throws, helping hold off a late Laker rally that included Bryant's long 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds left that cut the lead to 116-113.
The Nuggets lost Fortson and Washington to fouls.
Denver went on a 10-0 run, capped by Washington's 3-pointer, to open a 21-10 lead with 7:22 left in the opening period. Another 3-point basket by Washington gave Denver its biggest lead of the quarter, 32-18.
Campbell's eight-footer in the lane cut Denver's lead to 56-54 with 55 seconds left, but Denver led 61-56 at intermission.
McDyess had 19 points and eight rebounds at the half, and Washington, a guard who started at small forward for the first time this season, added 13 points. Campbell and O'Neal each had 15 points in the half.
The Lakers outshot the Nuggets 49 percent to 42 percent in the half, but Denver made five more 3-pointers and 10 more points from the line.
O'Neal sat out most of the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul, but the Nuggets missed McDyess more. He was sidelined by his injury with 8:00 left in the quarter, and the Lakers outscored Denver 25-10 the remainder of the period to take an 88-78 lead into the fourth quarter.
Notes: Lakers forward Robert Horry missed his fifth straight game after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat last week. ... Denver was without guard Bryant Stith, sidelined with a strained right groin. ... It was the second of three road games in as many nights for the Lakers, who are in Vancouver on Tuesday. ... Van Exel was 3-for-19 in his first game this season against the Lakers on Feb. 10. ... Denver's victory snapped a nine-game losing streak to Los Angeles.
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