NBA: L.A. Lakers beat Denver Nuggets, take 3-1 series lead
The Associated PressFirst published May 06 2012 11:04PM
Denver • Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, Andrew Bynum added 19 and the Los Angeles Lakers’ stars got plenty of help from their supporting cast in a 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night for a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
The Lakers can wrap it up Tuesday night when the series shifts back to Staples Center for Game 5.
Reserve Jordan Hill was big for L.A., posting a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Steve Blake scored 10 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute as the Lakers overcame a six-point halftime hole and a 71-70 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
"This was fun," Blake said. "It doesn’t get any better than this. Playoff basketball, this is what it’s all about."
Ramon Sessions scored 12 points and also had a big 3 in the final minute for L.A.
With the game tied at 86, Danilo Gallinari was covering Bryant when a hard screen from Pau Gasol sent him to the floor grabbing his face. Bryant worked the ball to Sessions, whose 3-pointer from just in front of the Nuggets bench put the Lakers ahead 89-86 with 48 seconds remaining.
Andre Miller was whistled for basket interference at the other end, and Blake sank a 3-pointer from the left corner with 18.9 seconds left for a six-point cushion, L.A.’s biggest of the night.
Gallinari led the Nuggets with 20 points, and Miller had 15.
After torching the Lakers for 50 points combined in the previous two games, Ty Lawson was held to 11 points and Nuggets big men Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee weren’t nearly as effective on offense or disruptive defensively as they were in Game 2, when they combined for 28 points and 30 rebounds.
Together, they had 14 points and 11 boards Sunday night.
Coming off a 7-for-23 shooting performance in Game 3, Bryant got off to another shaky start, missing his first three shots, losing the handle on a breakaway and allowing Lawson to swipe the ball away another time, resulting in a shot clock violation.
He briefly found his stroke with seven straight points but finished the first half 5 for 13 for 12 points, leaving him with a .333 shooting clip in the first six quarters at the Pepsi Center on the heels of his 15-for-29 performance in Game 2.
Bynum, who blamed his scoreless first half 48 hours earlier on failing to properly prepare in the pregame, was much more active early on, scoring 11 in the first half, which ended with the Lakers trailing 51-45.