A year ago at this time, the Los Angeles Lakers were flying high after a 100-96 victory over the Spurs at San Antonio, raising their record to 26-13.
That's when a series of injuries and other misfortunes contributed to a slide in which the Lakers lost 27 of their last 43 regular-season games before being eliminated 4-1 by Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs.
While the timing of significant injuries to Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza in a week's time and a difficult upcoming schedule might be a cause for deja vu, the Lakers are determined to avoid a similar collapse this season.
That being the case, they considered a decisive victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night would be a most important win.
"Absolutely. You have Andrew go down, you have Trevor go down, you get that vibe that, 'Here we go again,'" said Kobe Bryant, who had 17 points and a season-high 11 assists.
"We really need this win to get some momentum back going on the road," said Derek Fisher, who shot 10-for-16 including 6-for-7 from 3-point range in scoring a season-high 28 points -- one off his career high.