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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Denver Nuggets 28 23 20 17 88
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 26 19 25 22 92
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Bryant, Bynum lead Lakers to 3-1 edge over Nuggets

By ARNIE STAPLETON


Posted May 06 2012 9:39PM


By ARNIE STAPLETON

DENVER (AP) 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.

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.

The game was briefly delayed with 1:10 left in the first half when a female fan started walking across the court while the Nuggets were setting up a play.

The woman walked several steps onto the court as Lawson brought the ball past halfcourt. Officials blew the whistle to stop the play and the woman was escorted away by security.

Al Harrington scored nine points in his return to the Nuggets' lineup. He started out with a clear face mask protecting his nose that was broken Friday night by an inadvertent elbow from Bynum, but he ditched the mask in a matter of minutes.

Nuggets coach George Karl said earlier Sunday he was counting on a big game from Big Al, who is also playing with a torn meniscus in his right knee.

"I'm hoping the karma of basketball rewards a guy who probably shouldn't be playing," Karl said. "He's going to fight through a lot of problems and a lot of pain and his experience and his toughness is something that we need on the court."

Harrington missed his first six shots but then sank four straight, including a 3-pointer that put the Nuggets ahead 76-75 early in the fourth quarter.

Notes: Miller stole the ball from Matt Barnes and drew a clear-path foul from Barnes five minutes before halftime. ... For the second straight game, McGee's mother, Pamela McGee, who played in the WNBA, was seated courtside near the Nuggets bench. At one point, her son jumped over Bynum, who was whistled for traveling as he found his path to the basket blocked by his counterpart 7-foot center.


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 6th at the Pepsi Center at 6:30PM. Catch all the action on KCAL, TNT, or 710ESPN.



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Points Bryant 22, 10-25
Rebounds Hill 11, 7 OFF 4 DEF
Assists Bryant/Gasol 6
Steals 4 tied 1
Blocks Bynum 3
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

On hard fought win:
“It was a good game by our guys. I thought, obviously, Denver fought hard and they played well. I thought as a team we did a better job of keeping them off of the offensive glass. It’s been a huge emphasis of ours against these guys the last few games. They have done a whale of a job getting second chance points. To hold these guys to 13 is a big accomplishment for us because we hadn’t done that and they hurt us in that area. Besides that I have to give a lot of credit to all of our guys at different times. I thought they all played well and they all contributed.”

On defensive effort:
“Also we did a decent job of transition defense. I thought our guards were very aware of their bigs running the middle of the floor. Our guards did a great job of helping out until our bigs can get back. In the second half we did a better of job of closing down the paint. The first half they had 36 or 37 paint points. In the second half that was down to 16. That was very good and it was evident the way we played defense because they had 28 points in the first [quarter], 23 in the second, 20 in the third and 17 in the fourth.” vOn two huge three-pointers late:
“[Ramon] Sessions and Steve Blake both made two huge three’s. We hadn’t shot the ball well from the three-point line and they stepped up late in the game, got the pass from Kobe [Bryant] and just hit two huge three’s that gave us some separation.”

On Jordan Hill:
“Obviously, I thought the energy we got from Jordan Hill with his double-double was huge for us. That to me was probably the biggest difference in the game is the way he played on both ends of the floor and especially in the second half tonight.”




Jordan Hill:

On being the clutch player this game:
“I just wanted to get the win. I just wanted to go out there and give all I had, stay aggressive, and try to rebound every ball that comes up. I just wanted to go out there and have fun, and do the things I have to do to get the win.”

On the back pain he was having, and how his back held up in tonight’s game:
“I kept doing rehab; it’s definitely getting stronger. I just have to keep getting rehab treatment. I try not to focus on my back while I’m out there. It’s just a little pain, but I can definitely play with it. I just want to go out there and continue to have fun.”

On what the deciding factor was in the game with 16 ties and 18 lead changes:
“We wanted it more. We just went out there, defended well, rebounded when we needed it and helped each other on defense. We went out there and did what we had to do to get the win.”




Steve Blake:

On G Kobe Bryant passing to him late in the game:
“I was ready. I wasn’t surprised at all. Those guys are so good at drawing double teams and he trusts us. That’s what it will take for us to be a really good team: trusting each other. It worked out for us.”

On his comfort level with his teams:
“Comfort sometimes just comes with time and I’ve been playing with these guys for a couple years. I know where to be on the floor with them. It’s so much fun playing with these guys; they are unbelievably talented, great at scoring the basketball, championship guys that know how to win games. I feel really good and comfortable with them out there.”




Kobe Bryant:

On G Steve Blake hitting the big shot late in the game:
“He’s done it for us in the past. Remember last year in his first game with us, I think against Houston, he hit the game-winner. Those moments don’t scare him.”

On F Jordan Hill’s contributions off the bench:
“He’s been a big contribution for us ever since we inserted him against Oklahoma City. He’s consistent; his effort on the glass has been consistent from game to game. He’s a much better outside shooter than we thought as well. He’s given us a huge, huge boost.”

On Gs Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake filling Derek Fisher’s shoes:
“Those are tough shoes to fill obviously because he had so much experience. You have to start somewhere; Fish and I started somewhere. We were playing at the time with [Ron] Harper who had three championships. We had to kind of learn from him but we had to start somewhere. This is the beginning for them.”

On stopping Denver in late game situations:
“You focus in on every possession where the ball is going, from player to player. You have to shoot your defense, continue to rotate, and play through the possession.”

On slowing down Fs Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee:
“Us guards had to get in there and rebound. A lot of times our bigs are out of position because of the rotations on pick and roll coverages. McGee and Faried have been doing a great job of coming in on top and crashing the glass. We had to get in there with the big guys, mix it up, put some bodies on them, and try to control the glass ourselves.”




George Karl:

On how the Lakers slowed down the Nuggets:
“19, 20 offensive rebounds. I think everybody knows why we lost the game. We just didn’t rebound. We made them miss a lot of shots. Our initial defense presentation was probably as good as we’ve played all year against them. Their big strong guys, plus Jordan Hill, came in and gave them great minutes. I thought that was really big. I thought Jordan Hill kept [Pau] Gasol and [Andrew] Bynum from having to play 40 minutes. We just didn’t make them miss enough shots. The physicality of the game was primetime and big-time.”

On if he believes a team in the playoffs needs a go-to guy:
“Our shots at the end of the game were better than their shots. They got the two three’s to go down but basically that’s conceptually what we’re trying to do at the end of the game is not let Kobe [Bryant], Bynum and Gasol beat you. We missed a lay-up by Al [Harrington], Andre [Miller] misses a somewhat of a lay-up and Ty [Lawson] had an open three. Go-to guy versus shot selection. I think our shot selection was pretty good.”

On Nuggets inability to get to the free-throw line:
“As much as we drive the ball we shot 12 free-throws; six of them by [JaVale] McGee and none by our guards. We’re just going to keep attacking and doing what we believe in. We’re going to go down there and drive the ball to the rim and maybe we’ll get some calls, get some offensive rebounds, get some illegal defenses. Right now I don’t think we can change. There is always luck in basketball opportunities and we didn’t have a lot of opportunities today. They physically asserted their size and did it very well. We have to address that and watch the video and see how we might address that. It’s something that we have to live with.”




Danilo Gallinari:

On what the Lakers did to slow him down offensively:
“I thought they did a pretty good job of rebounding the ball and controlling the paint. They did a better job than they did in game three. I thought we played a pretty good game. There were a few stretches during the game where we didn’t run as much in the game three and our intensity [was down]. We know that against [the Lakers] we cannot do that. Second thing is rebounding. There were too many offensive rebounds, and it was part of the game plan to help those big men and everyone out of the paint to help control the rebounding game. We didn’t do a great job of that.”

On the screen from Pau Gasol:
“It was a tough pick. I got hit on my throat, and I felt like a click. I touched it a little bit and it clicked back. It was just a tough pick. You have to expect that in the playoffs. So I have to be more ready in those situations if I don’t see it and still be able to play defense. Unfortunately, they had a big shot out of the play. It was a tough one, we have to rest now and thing about game five.”

On mindset of the team:
“Optimistic we can pull it off. Of course there’s still a lot of basketball to play. Besides game one, all these games you saw we had the chance to win all of the games. Besides game one where we lost by I don’t’ remember how many points. We know we can win games against them and the series is still open. We definitely want to go to LA to win the game, no doubt about it.”




Arron Afflalo:

On what the Lakers did well down the stretch:
“They rebounded the ball well. Knocked down some free-throws, and hit some big shots. Sometimes the game comes down to that; it comes down to some big shots and some rebounds.”

On the offensive game from the Nuggets:
“Playmaking comes in the stretch. When it’s winning-time you have to go out there and make plays, get defensive rebounds and make big shots. We didn’t do that tonight.”

On the uphill battle that the Nuggets now face:
“It’s going to be difficult, no question about it. We’ll have to get two on their home floor to make this a competitive series again. Obviously, a game five on their home floor would give some life to this series if we’re able to win it.”

On how frustrating it was to know the game was in reach:
“It’s frustrating but you have to move on. Have to move on. It’s almost like a boxing match; at the end of the day you have to get out there and finish it out. You can start speculating and saying ‘it’s over’ on our side but at the end of the day you have to still get out there and finish it out and on our end you still have to get out there and compete to the end.”

On double-teaming leading to open three’s for other players for the Lakers:
“They were just timely. That’s the thing, in game one they made them in the first quarter and it game them an edge. Tonight, [Steve Blake] hit a big one in the fourth quarter. Basketball is going to continue to be a 48-minute game, you have to make plays throughout the entire game if you want to win.”

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Nuggets - Lakers Preview

ARNIE STAPLETON


Andrew Bynum is promising he'll be on time and on target Sunday night.

The Los Angeles Lakers center acknowledged Saturday that he wasn't ready for Game 3 at Denver, when he was held scoreless in the first half of a 99-84 loss to the youthful Nuggets.

Bynum has much more responsibility in the L.A.'s offense this season, so the Lakers' 7-foot center works long and hard before games on his footwork and balance.

He said he had to cut short that pregame preparation Friday night after arriving late to the arena.

''Yesterday we did a little bit of it, but like I said, I got there a little late, so I didn't have as much time as I needed,'' Bynum said.

''For what it's worth, I'm going to go and be ready for tomorrow's game,'' he added.

Bynum didn't say what led to his tardiness, but he also acknowledged he was bothered by the altitude as the Nuggets raced out to a 24-point lead on their way to a 55-39 halftime advantage.

Befuddled by Denver's double teams, Bynum took just three shots in the first half before bouncing back to score 18 points and pull down a dozen rebounds. However, he and Pau Gasol were outrebounded by Denver's young duo of Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee 30-19.

Asked Saturday how the Nuggets were able to take him out of his game in the first half, Bynum said, ''I took myself out,'' adding he was ''maybe just not ready to play.''

He said he'll get to the Pepsi Center ''a little early, probably'' Sunday night and ''get adjusted to the altitude prior to the game.''

Although Bynum was 5 for 8 from the floor and 8 of 8 from the stripe in the second half, his poor performance in the first half helped put the Lakers in a hole they couldn't climb out of. ''You hope at this time of the season everyone who steps on the floor is ready,'' said Lakers coach Mike Brown, who put Bynum's slow start among a long list of things that frustrated him.

Asked if Bynum drives him crazy, Brown said, ''I think at one point or another everybody on the team drives me crazy just like I'm sure I drive them crazy.''

With so much of the offense running through Bynum now, it was surprising to hear him admit he was tardy and not ready for a playoff game.

''He's extremely open and honest with you guys,'' Kobe Bryant told a group of reporters gathered at the team hotel Saturday. ''I'm sure you guys appreciate that.''

Bryant said he wasn't angered by Bynum's admission.

''No, the first step to improving as a player is admitting to yourself that you've done something wrong and (knowing) how to correct that,'' Bryant said. ''I do the same thing, too. I just don't tell you guys.''

But not being ready for a playoff game?

''No, I'm always ready. I'm always ready,'' Bryant said. ''But there's some mistakes that I make'' that he doesn't share with the public.

Pressed if he thought it was disconcerting to hear that Bynum wasn't ready for a playoff game, Bryant said: ''Yeah, I mean, hopefully you guys will stick it to him good enough to where it sinks in for him.''

Bryant said Bynum is still learning how to handle himself in the playoffs while being targeted with a steady diet of double teams.

''It's a process for him because he's never had to see these types of coverages in the postseason, teams mix up coverages, mix up looks,'' Bryant said. ''I think it's good for him. I try to throw the ball into him as much as I can so he can constantly work on that, get better at it. If we're fortunate enough to advance to the next rounds, he's going to be seeing a lot more of that, so it's important for him to really be efficient.''

The Lakers never trailed in winning the first two games but they were powerless during a 28-2 spurt by the Nuggets in the first half Friday night that gave Denver a double-digit cushion. Instead of limiting their stars minutes after that or conceding this one, the Lakers fought back and made a game of it, cutting the deficit to four points in the third quarter.

''I'm not a big fan of 20-point leads in the first half,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said, noting that teams with big early cushions tend to get lazy. ''I'm kind of glad it turned out to be a hard game, at least a game where we had to make fourth-quarter plays.

''My speech to the team was sometime today you all got to stop being happy ... Because the fight we're going to have tomorrow is going to be harder.''

And this time, Bynum promises to be ready from the start. Notes: Karl was styling Saturday in a blue tie and orange blazer to go with white slacks and a striped white and orange shirt. He was dressed up for a cancer charity event but said there was no way he'd wear the ensemble on the sideline. ... Karl on JaVale McGee's 16-point, 15-rebound performance Friday night: ''Oh, it's the best game I've ever seen him play. We don't see a lot of East Coast teams, but when the trade (with the Washington Wizards) was going on, we watched the films and we never saw that game.''

5/04/12
L DEN 99, LAL 84
5/01/12
W LAL 104, DEN 100
4/29/12
W LAL 103, DEN 88
4/26/12
L SAC 113, LAL 96
4/22/12
W LAL 114, OKC 106
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.
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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 W 104-100
Game 3: 5/04 - LAL @ DEN L 99-84
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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