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L.A. Lakers Rout Nuggets 131-92

Rick Fox scored 22 points and Kobe Bryant had 21 Thursday night as the Los Angeles Lakers ended a season-high three-game losing streak with a 131-92 rout of the Denver Nuggets.

Shaquille O'Neal added 19 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Lakers beat Denver for the seventh consecutive time. The 5-47 Nuggets lost their fifth in a row overall.

LaPhonso Ellis and Johnny Newman scored 19 points for Denver.

The Lakers led 64-38 at halftime, building the big lead even though starting point guard Nick Van Exel was at home with a cold and a sore right knee.

The Nuggets, 0-28 against teams with winning records, took an early 14-10 lead. But the Lakers, also playing without injured forward Robert Horry and reserve Corie Blount, responded with a 17-1 run and went on to their most-lopsided win of the season.

The Lakers resorted to an early assortment of highlight-show material while outscoring the Nuggets 24-8 in the final six minutes of the second quarter.

Bryant, facing away from the basket, set up Elden Campbell underneath for a slam dunk with a no-look pass from the foul line. Fox then drove the lane against Tony Battie before flipping a no-look pass to O'Neal, whose driving layup increased the Lakers' margin to 57-34.

Moments later on a fast break, Jon Barry threw a behind-the-back pass on the run to Fox, who flipped the ball over his left shoulder back to Barry. The rarely used guard drove the left baseline with it before making a no-look feed to Bryant, whose slam-dunk and free throw gave the Lakers a 62-38 lead.

No Denver player had more than 10 points until Ellis hit a 3-pointer with 6:40 left in the third quarter. By then, the Lakers were comfortably ahead 76-49.

Notes: Horry was in uniform, but didn't play because coach Del Harris wanted him to give his troublesome groin injury another night's rest. ... The Lakers, who shot 54.1 percent, have won the last 30 games in which they've shot at least 50 percent from the field - including 20 this season. ... The victory prevented the Lakers from losing three consecutive home games for the first time since a five-game slide in April 1994, during Magic Johnson's season-ending 16-game stint as interim coach. ... Four of Denver's five victories have been by double-digit margins. They are 0-11 in games decided by fewer than five points.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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