The Lakers will try to improve to 9-0 for the second time in their history Thursday night when they visit a Nuggets team that was embarrassed its last time out.
Los Angeles (8-0) matched the 1987-88 team for the second-best start in club history with a lackluster 99-94 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday. Only the 1997-98 Lakers were better, starting 11-0.
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Pau Gasol had 18 and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles, which was not sharp after coach Phil Jackson canceled practice Monday.
"You want to go back and try and figure out what you can do better," Jackson said. "It's not so much as a stopping point. We're going to have losses, we know this is a long season. We know we are going to have losses.
"So in the process sometimes I tell the team maybe it would have been better if we had lost that game than win it. Because you think you're OK because the end score was OK."
The Lakers' disappointment, though, pales in comparison to how the Nuggets (4-4) felt about their effort Tuesday. Denver fell 144-113 at Indiana, allowing the Pacers to make 20 of 21 shots in a 54-point third quarter.
"Hopefully we will use this to respond well to the Lakers Thursday," coach George Karl said. "This goes in the bad column. But we've had some good also. I'm not going to go negative."
The Lakers and Nuggets met in the Western Conference finals two seasons ago, with Los Angeles winning in six games. Denver won three of four meetings last season, and Bryant and Carmelo Anthony each sat out once.
"They definitely bring their 'A' game whenever they face us," Bryant said.
Bryant did not play well against Denver last season, averaging 22.0 points on 37.5 percent shooting. He shot 29.4 percent and averaged 16.5 points in the two meetings Anthony also played in.
Anthony will try to bounce back after he scored a season-low 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting Tuesday. He averaged 25.7 points on 47.5 percent shooting against the Lakers last season.
"His strength and his quickness," said Bryant when asked to describe Anthony's best attributes. "Strong as a bull and quick as a cat. He can shoot the long ball, shoot the mid-range, he can post up. He can go left, he can go right. He's a complete player."
The Nuggets allowed Indiana to make 16 of 30 3-pointers Tuesday, and that's sure to be a concern two nights later with the Lakers leading the NBA with a 43.5 percentage from beyond the arc.
Los Angeles was outrebounded 54-42 against Minnesota, and expects a similar challenge from Denver's big men.
"They're a physical frontcourt," Gasol said. "They play hard. Obviously at home, they play a little better. I'm sure they are ready to bounce back after the couple of losses that they had. So we have to be ready to go out there and play a tough game."