NBA Game Summary - Denver at LA Lakers|
(Saturday, May 12th)
Final Score: LA Lakers 96, Denver 87
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - It took seven games and a series of trials
but the Los Angeles Lakers finally put away the Denver Nuggets.
On the cusp of elimination, the sixth-seeded Nuggets stormed back with two
straight wins and held a lead in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but the
Lakers persevered, getting 23 points, 17 rebounds and six assists from Pau
Gasol en route to a 96-87 victory.
Steve Blake added a playoff career-high 19 points, Kobe Bryant finished with
17 and Andrew Bynum had 16 and 18 rebounds. Metta World Peace returned from a
seven-game suspension and scored 15 points.
"We stayed together, we continued to fight and share the ball," said Lakers
coach Mike Brown. "Our two bigs (Gasol and Bynum) were terrific. (Bynum) was
all over the place."
Los Angeles, seeded third, will visit the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder
on Monday in the Western Conference semifinals.
Al Harrington and Ty Lawson scored 24 points apiece for the Nuggets, who fell
just one victory short of their first-ever series win over the Lakers.
"We gave a valiant effort in the second half," said Denver coach George Karl.
"The game was so physical. Their size won over our speed. We need to get
stronger to beat this kind of team."
The Lakers improved to 15-1 all-time in Game 7 home games. Their only defeat
came in 1969, in the Finals, against the rival Celtics.
The aforementioned record appeared safe on Saturday thanks to a 16-point
third quarter lead, but again the resilient Nuggets proved a tough out.
They closed the quarter on a 22-7 run, getting 13 points from Lawson over that
span and eventually tied the game at 68. Bryant made a free throw for a
one-point Los Angeles lead entering the fourth.
Then, a back-and-forth finish ensued. Harrington had his team up 73-69 with
consecutive baskets -- a contested reverse layup and three-pointer. It marked
the largest lead of the game for the Nuggets, but the Lakers went back in
front on consecutive 3s from World Peace and Blake, then methodically pulled
away down the stretch.
The game was tied at 78 when an 11-2 Los Angeles run sealed the final result.
Blake had a trey during the run and Gasol and Bynum punished the Nuggets
inside with several close finishes. A pair of Bynum free throws made it 89-80
with under two minutes left and Bryant's pullup contested three with 48.3
seconds to play proved the fitting dagger.
Gasol, who scored just three points in Thursday's Game 6 blowout loss, atoned
early. He scored 13 points in the opening half and converted a contested tip
in at the buzzer for a 48-42 Los Angeles lead at the break.
"We had a sense of urgency tonight," said Gasol."I wanted to bring a better
effort than I did in Game 6. I came out tonight and played to the fullest
until the end."
The Lakers have defeated the Nuggets in all six of their postseason series
meetings...Los Angeles improved to 16-8 all-time in Game 7s while Denver fell
to 1-2...World Peace was suspended for elbowing Oklahoma City guard James
Harden in the side of the head.
05/13 02:24:47 ET
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