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DENVER (AP) _ Kobe Bryant had 24 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers manhandled the Denver Nuggets 89-68 on Wednesday night.

The Lakers' smothering defense forced Denver into 33 percent shooting, compared to Los Angeles' 47 percent.

The Lakers, who never trailed, saw their lead reduced to six points on James Posey's two free throws late in the third quarter. But after Denver's George McCloud blew a chance to cut the lead to three, stealing a pass but missing a 3-pointer, the Lakers surged.

Robert Horry's 3-pointer started a 9-0 run that was capped by Mitch Richmond's basket, putting Los Angeles ahead 70-55 with 10:24 left.

Denver got no closer than 13 points after that.

Richmond came off the bench to score 13 points. Shaquille O'Neal had 10 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Denver, which had won five of its previous six games, was led by Nick Van Exel with 21 points.

Los Angeles outrebounded the Nuggets 59-36.

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