The team has since beaten the Portland Trail Blazers, but the Denver loss saw the Lakers falling apart defensively, giving up 126 points. Was this a return to the pre-Steve Nash days when the team was losing to all-comers?
Actually the Lakers losing in Denver was easily predictable.
Based on last year's numbers, the Nuggets dominate teams coming to Denver on the second night of back-to-back games with an 8-2 record. The only losses were to the Utah Jazz (another team used to playing in high altitude) and a potent Memphis Grizzlies squad.
Denver was slightly above .500 against visiting teams with at least a day of rest (12-11, 52.2%).
Should the Lakers have won? Maybe, but the numbers are significant. Denver has lost one home game this season, to the Miami Heat.
"Hopefully, Denver was just a thing of legs and that's past us," said Coach Mike D'Antoni. "Let's go forward."
Are the back-to-back games an excuse? Perhaps. The Nuggets played two nights in a row as well on the day after Christmas.
"Denver was a tough game for us. Guys were a little fatigued and whatever," said Kobe Bryant after the win over the Blazers. "We played a little sluggish and they got us, but I like what we've been doing. We have been on track and just came back tonight doing what we've been doing."
Dwight Howard is a major reason why the Lakers defense works (when it does); if he's not right physically, wouldn't the defense suffer?
"The key for me is to continue to get rest," said Howard. "Sometimes those back-to-back games are very tough for me but I'm just trying to play as hard as I can."
Howard won't pretend his body is back in shape after off-season surgery. The initial projections had him out until January.
"It starts with me," said the Lakers center. "My effort has to be there every night. I can't allow anything to affect how I play."
The Lakers lost a game most teams lose, whether it's Denver's depth, athleticism and effort or the impact of playing in the Rocky Mountains.
With Pau Gasol and Nash back from injuries, the Lakers are a better team than what they showed over the first 20 to 25 games, but they're going to lose at times -- sometimes badly.
What's most important for the team is to get healthy and stay that way while learning how to win games -- something they've done much better over the last couple of weeks.