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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Denver Nuggets 25 23 26 26 100
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 32 23 26 23 104
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Lakers hold off Nuggets to take 2-0 series lead

By GREG BEACHAM


May 01 2012 10:28PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 38 points, Andrew Bynum followed up his playoff-opening triple-double with 27 points and nine rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers weathered Denver's late rally for a 104-100 victory over the Nuggets on Tuesday night, taking a 2-0 series lead.

Pau Gasol had 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the third-seeded Lakers, who still haven't trailed in this series despite nearly crumbling against a much-improved effort by the Nuggets and Ty Lawson, who scored 25 points and led the fourth-quarter charge.

Los Angeles' 19-point lead in the third quarter dwindled to four with 3 minutes to play, but Ramon Sessions scored four key points in the final 1:14 before Bryant's icing free throws with 9.4 seconds left.

Game 3 is Friday in Denver.

Lawson shook his awful series opener with 17 second-half points, but the sixth-seeded Nuggets lost their ninth straight road playoff game despite playing much closer to their preferred speedy tempo after the Lakers muzzled them in Game 1.

Sessions scored 14 points for Los Angeles, which played just enough fast-break ball of its own to stay ahead of Denver - and now the Lakers are halfway to the second round. They have only lost one playoff series in franchise history after winning the first two games, going 42-1.

Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 10 rebounds while Danilo Gallinari and Corey Brewer added 13 points apiece, but Denver still couldn't consistently defend Bryant or negate Bynum, who played another outstanding low-post game on both ends until disappearing a bit in a three-point fourth quarter.

A 14-5 run in the final minutes eventually trimmed Los Angeles' lead to 98-84, but Sessions hit a teardrop layup with 1:14 to play, and Bryant made a slick steal on the other end. JaVale McGee's tip-in with 30 seconds left trimmed the Lakers' lead back to four, but Sessions and Bryant hit their free throws.

Jordan Hill shook off brewing legal troubles to contribute six points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who used just three reserves. Denver's bench outscored the Lakers' reserves 35-8.

Bynum blocked just two shots after swatting 10 in the Lakers' series-opening victory, but Denver minimized his dominance with home run passes, speedy outlets and 30 fast-break points.

Denver coach George Karl attempted to help through the media after Game 1, saying Bynum and the Lakers played illegal defense constantly during the opener. Karl tried another gambit before Game 2, saying Staples Center is not a noisy, intimidating road building, but more like "a Broadway stage."

The Lakers were called for no illegal defenses in Game 2.

Los Angeles stretched its seven-point halftime lead to 19 in the third quarter with a 14-0 run, but the Nuggets trimmed it back to seven entering the fourth quarter with an 18-4 run.

Denver cut the lead to four points late on consecutive hustle plays by Faried, but Bryant scrapped for a loose ball on one end and led the break to the other, feeding Bynum for a dunk - his first points of the fourth quarter - and a foul with 2:15 to play.

Hill produced another strong performance off the Lakers' bench a day after news broke of a felony assault charge against him in Houston, where he played for the Rockets before a late-season trade. Hill said Tuesday night he was "shocked" by the charges, but thinks he won't miss any time in the Lakers' championship quest.

Notes: Metta World Peace served the third game of his seven-game suspension. ... Before the game, Denver announced F Wilson Chandler had surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He should be ready for training camp in the fall. ... Bryant has never lost a first-round playoff series after winning the opener, going 11-0. ... Fans near courtside included Lil Wayne, David and Victoria Beckham, Poppy Montgomery and Mario Lopez.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Lakers take on the Denver Nuggets Tuesday, May 1st at Staples Center at 7:30PM. Catch all the action on Fox Sports West, TNT, or 710ESPN.



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Points Bryant 38, 15-29
Rebounds Gasol/Hill 10
Assists Gasol 5
Steals Bryant 3
Blocks Bynum/Gasol 2
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

Lakers coach Mike Brown on his expectations leading into tonight’s game:
“We talked about this for the last few days that Ty Lawson was going to come out aggressive and he did. Not only did he come out aggressive, but we thought that the team was really trying to get it out in the transition game.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on what the Lakers need to do moving forward in this series:
“The game in the series is going to be how well we get back in transition. That’s the biggest thing. We definitely have to clean up the offensive glass part. You’re not going to stop Ty Lawson, you just hope you make him work for his shots.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on the Nuggets single coverage on Kobe tonight:
“They’ve tried to double team us randomly picking and choosing their spots and we made them pay a couple of times when they have come or come to quick. I think they probably said “Hey, let’s try something else. Let’s see if they can beat us in single coverage.” And, Kobe did a nice job of scoring the basketball.”




Pau Gasol:

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on his passing:
“Just trying to find my open teammates, trying to see what’s going on and give easy looks to Andrew [Bynum] most of the time. And then Kobe is such a good cutter and holds his position so well in the paint, so he’s a definer for me. I’m just trying to make our offense work, get a little movement and get guys easy shots.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on the key to succeeding in the Playoffs:
“I think you have to make sure you do things the right way—that you’re disciplined and try to improve defensively, especially as games go along. I think that’s how you get yourself far and deep into the Playoffs. When you’re solid defensively, and you take away the strength of the opponent, and no matter what adjustments they make, you’re ready for them because you stick to your principles and you’re just consistent. I think that’s what gives teams the opportunity to win games.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on his role with the team:
“I’m trying to fulfill my role as best I can. Whatever’s needed out there, I’m trying to do it. I don’t get as many looks as I used to, especially down the post because Andrew [Bynum] is taking up a lot of that and being effective. So, I try and take advantage of my opportunities and then also use my skills and my talent to get guys involved and facilitate. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. And also, I think being aggressive gets me going and gets me more involved and gets me more active on both ends of the floor. So, I have to balance it out.”




Andrew Bynum:

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on being defensive in Game 1 and changing to playing offensive in Game 2:
“I think they relaxed a little bit on the double teaming and I was able to take advantage.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on the importance of winning while in Denver:
“I don’t think we want to go back to Denver so it’s important and Game 3 is going to be big.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on how his mentality has changed being in the playoffs:
“I think everyone’s first game they’re a bit nervous and then after that it just turns to energy.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on what the team needs to do for Game 3:
“We need to play with desperation. I understand what that game could mean if we win it, so just go and play aggressive.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on playing Game 3:
“I think they’re going to try to run, they might go small, they might make adjustments but for us we need to keep pounding the ball inside and try to slow the game down. Defensively, keep doing what we’re doing, playing hard, and locking them up.”




Kobe Bryant:

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on whether there is a difference between the energy and intensity this year compared to last year’s playoffs:
“I don’t think there is a difference. I think we’re playing much better. Last year was so much of a broken season with injuries and myself not being able to practice and a few things like that so it was tough to build a rhythm. This year, we’re done a great job of that.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on getting more open looks while Andrew gets double teamed:
“It’s tough when you play against us because there is legitimately 3 guys on the post that you have to double team. For Andrew, he’s continuing to get better at it and making great reads which is going to help us tremendously as he gets better at it.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on Andrew Bynum’s rising expectations for himself:
“He expects greatness out of himself. He believes he can have monster games on a consistent basis like he did last game. So it’s a great thing to hear.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on how he feels after having a few weeks to rest:
“They helped tremendously. I feel great. We’re doing fine, playing well, we just have to continue to focus.”




George Karl:

Nuggets coach George Karl on the Lakers’ offensive rebounds:
“My only thought basically is that we have some priorities that I still don’t think we’re taking good care of and one of them is rebounding. I don’t know what they shot on their first attempt in the second half but it had to be poor. I don’t how many rebounds they had but they must have had 10 or 15 offensive rebounds. They’re bigger than we are, they’re heavier than we are, and we just have got to rebound the ball. I thought that was why we lost the game probably in the second half.”

Nuggets coach George Karl on the fight his team showed tonight:
“I wish the fight we showed tonight would have happened in game one. Because of that I think we’re down 2-0. If we would have fought like this in game one, maybe we would have found a way to win game two. We’re young and we’re learning. I thought you saw us play a lot of good Nuggets’ basketball today, but we just didn’t make many shots. We’re not shooting the ball very well but the hunger and the anger of the team is very good.”

Nuggets coach George Karl on whether it’s the Lakers’ talent or experience that’s most valuable:
“I think it’s the experience of their stars between Gasol and Kobe. Gasol doesn’t put great numbers up but he’s probably their best passer out there on the court, and he just understands what’s going on as well as anyone on the court. For a 7’1” guy to do that is pretty incredible stuff. I guess Kobe’s will to win the game falls under experience. It’s a mental talent. Our players have to understand we need five, maybe six guys playing at a high level to win. They might only need two or three.”

Nuggets coach George Karl on the differences between the two teams:
“There’s a combination of talent and team that wins championships. We were successful during the season because of our team-ness, and they were successful because their stars had great years. Sessions came in and played really well but it was basically Bynum’s showcase season, and Kobe playing with an incredibly energized body that we didn’t think was there last year. Gasol orchestrates it all as a playmaker at 7’1” who can put a double-double on any team he plays against. The other guys just fill in the blanks and they do it pretty well.”

Nuggets coach George Karl on the next game:
“I’m looking very much forward to Friday night. I think my team made a big step tonight; I just wish it would have been in game one.”




Ty Lawson:

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on how his approach was different in this game compared to Game 1:
“Last game, I missed a couple shots early and I started to defer and pass the ball. This game, coach told me to be aggressive and try to make things happen.”

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on what the team needs to do differently in Game 3 to get a win:
“We were closer, but we can’t go down 19 or 20 points and chop off that. It takes a lot of energy. We need to help each other on the boards and help the bigs because that’s where they got a lot offensive rebounds and second chances. With this team, you can’t do that because that’s where they thrive and get their momentum.”

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on how important controlling the tempo is for them:
“Pace is huge, but we have to get stops. You can’t run after they make a dunk or a three. It’s easier to run when you get a rebound. The main thing is we have to get stops.”

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on defending Kobe Bryant:
“He was hitting a lot of tough shots. In the first game, he was getting a lot of layups and getting to the basket. This game, he was hitting tough shots. Like the coaches said, we played better defense but he was on fire, and sometimes you can’t do anything about it when he’s hitting shots like that.”




Arron Afflalo:

Nuggets’ Arron Afflalo opening thoughts on tonight’s game:
“The score was closer. This is a very good team. Their better players had very good games today and our only hope now is to take care of our home court.”

Nuggets’ Arron Afflalo on defending Kobe Bryant:
“He’s good. He hit some tough shots when I was on him and when I wasn’t on him. He had a pretty good rhythm all game long. He gets a lot of looks, so for scorers, the more shots you get at the basket, the more of a feel you get for the game.”

Nuggets’ Arron Afflalo on how the Lakers have been able to play at their pace:
“They’ve controlled Game 1 and Game 2 from start to finish. Until we get an opportunity to push that pace and force them to become a part of our game, they’re going to continue what they want to do as they lead this series and as they lead the games.”




Kenneth Faried:

Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried on what was different in tonight’s contest compared to Game 1:
“We played better. We kept fighting, never gave up and believed in each other. But when it came down to the wire, we have to execute better. Guys had more fight in them today and guys didn’t want to quit.”

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Nuggets - Lakers Preview

GREG BEACHAM


LOS ANGELES (AP) The Denver Nuggets still believe Andrew Bynum and the Lakers play illegal defense all the time.

The Nuggets also realize it's on them to make the 7-foot shot-blocker's job a whole lot tougher, or their playoff stay will be short.

"He's not going to shrink by tomorrow," Arron Afflalo said Monday before the Nuggets' practice.

After getting one-sixth of all their shots blocked in a Game 1 loss, the Nuggets are redoubling their efforts to force their speedy tempo on the Lakers in Game 2 on Tuesday night.

Denver figures it's the only way to prevent Bynum from camping out underneath the basket alongside fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol, who blocked two shots of his own. Yet Bynum also spends enough time parked in the paint to earn several parking violations, according to Denver coach George Karl, who claims Los Angeles played "about 30" illegal defense possessions against the Nuggets' layup-dependent offense.

"Yeah, but we help him a lot, too," said Denver forward Kenneth Faried, who had 10 points and eight rebounds in his NBA playoff debut. "We step inside, and he basically gets 3 clear seconds (in the paint). We just have to get back to what we're used to doing, just getting up and down the floor and enjoying ourselves. ... If we get outside the (paint), Bynum can get caught for 3 seconds, because he does sit there a lot, just posts there like a tree and blocks a lot. He's got to move with us, and that takes him out of the middle."

The Lakers mostly rolled their eyes at the Nuggets' cries over the nebulous rules governing how long a defensive player can stay in the paint. Bynum has patrolled the lane aggressively throughout his first All-Star year, and Kobe Bryant said his 24-year-old teammate has "obviously progressed tremendously defensively from the first part of the season."

When asked about Karl's accusations, Bynum conceals a smile while pointing out how the Nuggets' up-tempo offense allows him to do his job.

"If people cut through the lane, you can touch them and you can stand there the whole time," Bynum said after the Lakers' workout at their training complex in El Segundo. "That's part of the game."

The Lakers are quite familiar with coaches using gamesmanship to get the attention of officials and opponents with sharp public statements in the postseason - but it was usually former Lakers coach Phil Jackson who was doing the needling and prodding.

With a few days to prepare, new coach Mike Brown put together a game plan that led to a remarkably smooth win in his Los Angeles playoff debut. Karl's gamesmanship elicited a chuckle from Brown, who hasn't played this game much in Cleveland or Los Angeles.

"He's a veteran coach," Brown said. "He's been in the playoffs a long time. He's just got to try to work the officials in different ways, and that's what he's doing. I applaud him for that. ... George is maybe doing the right thing, following Phil Jackson's lead. He's got 11 rings."

The Lakers didn't miss suspended forward Metta World Peace in the opener, but now backup big man Jordan Hill also is apparently in trouble over an assault charge filed in an alleged confrontation with his girlfriend before Hill joined the Lakers in mid-March.

Hill had 10 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1, making a significant contribution for a third straight game with the Lakers. Hill issued a brief statement and vaguely answered a few questions Monday, saying he doesn't expect to miss any practices or games with the Lakers despite a looming court date in Houston on Tuesday.

"I'll be here, but we'll see," Hill said of his ability to play in Game 2.

Even if Hill is unavailable, veterans Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy could step in to face a Denver lineup that's usually much smaller than the Lakers.

"What pleased me the most is the amount of energy we played with," said Bryant, who scored 31 points. "We were pretty tenacious on the defensive end, very active."

Los Angeles held the Nuggets to 35.6 percent shooting with a dismaying number of missed layups. Leading scorer Ty Lawson didn't make a shot until the fourth quarter, finishing with seven points as no Denver player made more than half of his shots except Jordan Hamilton, who was 1 for 1.

Denver is still confident in its transition game, and the Lakers have struggled against fast-breaking teams all season. They figure the only way to score in the paint against Bynum is to get to the hoop first.

"We have to be more aware when he's in the paint, and we have to try to make the extra passes better," said Danilo Gallinari, who led the Nuggets with 19 points. "We have to move the ball, and shoot before he gets there."


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

4/29/12
W LAL 103, DEN 88
4/26/12
L SAC 113, LAL 96
4/22/12
W LAL 114, OKC 106
4/20/12
L SAS 121, LAL 97
4/18/12
W LAL 99, GSW 87
Probable Starters
Lakers
#3 Ebanks SF #8 Gallinari
#16 Gasol PF #35 Faried
#17 Bynum C #41 Koufos
#24 Bryant SG #6 Afflalo
#7 Sessions PG #3 Lawson
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Lakers Matt Barnes
(sprained right ankle) is day-to-day.
Devin Ebanks
(middle & ring finger contusions, left hand) is probable.
Ramon Sessions
(sprained left shoulder - ac joint) is probable.
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Al Harrington
(right knee strain) is probable.
Wilson Chandler
(left hip, labral tear) is out.
Rudy Fernandez
(lower back strain) is out.
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PLAYOFF SERIES
Game 1: 4/29 - DEN @ LAL W 103-88
Game 2: 5/01 - DEN @ LAL
Game 3: 5/31 - LAL @ DEN
Game 4: 5/06 - LAL @ DEN
* Game 5: 5/08 - DEN @ LAL
* Game 6: 5/10 - LAL @ DEN
* Game 7: 5/12 - DEN @ LAL
REGULAR SEASON
Game 1: 12/31 - DEN @ LAL W 92-89
Game 2: 01/01 - LAL @ DEN L 99-90
Game 3: 02/03 - LAL @ DEN W 93-89
Game 4: 04/13 - DEN @ LAL W 103-97
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