Gameday: Nuggets 113, Lakers 96

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Denver Nuggets 30 24 36 23 113
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 20 25 23 28 96

Nuggets rout Lakers 113-96 to force Game 7


Posted May 10 2012 10:34PM

DENVER (AP) Ty Lawson scored 32 points, fellow spark plug Corey Brewer added 18 and the Denver Nuggets forced a Game 7 in their first-round playoff series with a dominating 113-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

The free-wheeling Nuggets are one win from running the lumbering Lakers right out of the playoffs. Game 7 in the Western Conference series is Saturday night at the Staples Center.

This will be the Nuggets' first all-or-nothing playoff game since losing to Utah in Game 7 of the 1994 conference semifinals.

Kobe Bryant followed his 43-point outburst in Game 5 with 31 points in 3 1/2 quarters despite a sour stomach that prevented him from attending the Lakers' morning shootaround and forced him to take intravenous fluids all day. He took a seat for good with Los Angeles down 101-73 with 7:52 remaining.

The younger but deeper Nuggets have won three of four since dropping the first two games in Los Angeles, and they did it by once again outrunning and outgunning their star-studded counterparts who prefer a half-court game and not the frenetic pace and pickup-game style employed by the Nuggets.

Lawson's 32 points were a career-playoff high, besting his old mark of 27 set last year.

Andrew Bynum pulled down 16 rebounds but made just 4 of 11 shots for 11 points, for the Lakers and Pau Gasol was just 1 of 10 from the field, finishing with three points and three rebounds.

The Nuggets got another great game from rookie Kenneth Faried, who provided even more energy with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Danilo Gallinari and Andre Miller both had 12 points for Denver, which led 90-68 heading into the fourth quarter.

Brewer iced this one by scoring 11 straight points for Denver to start the fourth quarter, an array of dunks and jumpers that gave the Nuggets their biggest lead at 101-73 and forced the Lakers to throw in the towel and try to rest up Bryant, Bynum and Gasol for Game 7.

Bryant finished the first half with 19 points but he started out slowly and so did the Lakers, who fell behind 13-0 before Bryant scored more than 3 1/2 minutes into the game.

While the Lakers missed their first six shots, the Nuggets quickly set the tone. Lawson hit all four of his 3-pointers as the Nuggets raced to a 23-8 lead.

Lawson also scored 19 points in the first half, including half of the Nuggets' 30 first-quarter points - matching his per-game scoring average in the playoffs. His basket at the halftime buzzer gave Denver a 54-45 lead after their 15-point cushion had been trimmed to four on Gasol's only basket, a hook shot that brought he Lakers within 47-43.

Bryant has a history of playing through pain in the playoffs and this season he toughed it out through several injuries, missing minimal time with a concussion, ankle and wrist ailments. Lakers coach Mike Brown said he is "amazed at his mental and physical toughness."

Bryant was lumbering a bit on defense, though, where he got away with several grabs in the first half. In the opening minutes of the third quarter, however, he was whistled for a flagrant foul after smacking Faried in the head while trying to prevent a fast-break basket.

That was during Denver's 9-0 run to start the second half, a spurt that doubled their nine-point halftime lead in less than 3 minutes and all but sapped whatever energy the Lakers had left.

Before long, the Pepsi Center was rocking in a blowout as Lawson scored basket after acrobatic basket and the "Beat L.A.!" chants grew ever louder.

Lawson's 3-pointer from the top of the circle at 1:22 made it 90-65.

Bynum, who irked the Nuggets by saying on the eve of Game 5 that "close-out games are actually kind of easy," was mum before this one, but the Nuggets were getting more mileage out of his insult with Lawson suggesting, "we'll probably just put that up again and pretend like we never heard it before."

Actually, the Nuggets found more motivation in something written in the Lakers' locker room after the game Tuesday night. Scribbled on the grease board was this message: "Flight. 3 pm. Pack for 3 games."

The next round will start in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder have the home court to open the conference semifinals. Now the Lakers need to return to L.A. and figure out a way to slow down the Nuggets to order to make it to the matchup that seemingly everybody expected before the Nuggets turned this series into a dogfight.

Earlier Thursday, Nuggets reserve center Chris "Birdman" Andersen was excused indefinitely from all team-related activities after Douglas County sheriff's deputies searched his home as part of an investigation by the department's Internet Crimes Against Children unit.

The 10-year pro hadn't played in the postseason after averaging 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds during the regular season, when his playing time dropped dramatically as young players gobbled up more minutes.

Notes: Metta World Peace served the final game of his seven-game suspension for elbowing Oklahoma City's James Harden in the head last month. He's been practicing with the Lakers but left the arena before games, as required by the league. ... Lawson's previous playoff best was 27 points against the Thunder on April 25, 2011. His career high is 37 points.

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 Thursday, May 9th at the Pepsi Center at 7:30PM. Catch all the action on KCAL, TNT, or 710ESPN.

View More Photos

Points Bryant 31, 13-23
Rebounds Bynum 16, 6 OFF 10 DEF
Assists Bryant 4
Steals Blake 2
Blocks Bynum 4


Mike Brown:

Lakers coach Mike Brown on tonight’s loss:
“Denver came and played a very good game from start to finish—you’ve got to give them credit. I thought they came out, they hit first and they continued to hit throughout the course of game. I thought they were more physical than us, offensively we didn’t have any flow, we were stagnant often and we didn’t get the ball reversals that we normally like to get. And then we didn’t space the floor well when the ball went to the post and they were able to capitalize on our missed shots when we did get it out to open guys. And then our paint protection on the defense end of the floor is not good right now.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on Bynum and Gasol’s struggle to defend McGee:
“McGee is long, he’s athletic, he’s very active. He came into tonight’s game trying to make a statement, both he and Faried have been two guys that have been trying to do that all series. He had a big game a couple of games ago, a big game tonight, and both times McGee’s had a big game, they’ve won. Really it’s just him being long, him being athletic, him being hungry and wanting to go get the ball, and us not paying as much attention to him as we should.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on continuing the series:
“I feel these guys are champions, I feel these guys are winners, and I feel that we had an opportunity tonight, we let it get away from us. The one thing our guys have to understand though is we’re still up 3-2, we’re still in control of the series and we’ve just got to go on the road and get a win. Nobody said this was going to be easy. I don’t go into any series thinking I’m going to sweep anybody. You hope you do. Even if you don’t sweep them, you hope you win 4-1, and then so on and so forth. So, we’re still sitting in a good spot, but we obviously just made it tougher on ourselves. We’ve just got to go take care of business on the road.”

Andrew Bynum:

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on JaVale McGee’s play tonight:
“He attacked off the glass. That is what was causing me problems personally. Other than that, he gets balls in transition. We got to get back.

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on his performance tonight:
“Me personally, they were just --- off the guy trying to get me the ball. I’m going watch the clip and see how to be more effective. Other than that, I just have to get down the court earlier, get their first.

Lakers Andrew Bynum on getting off to a poor start:
“We didn’t get out to a good start and we lost so I guess the saying holds true. Tonight, I got off to a poor start and it’s been tough getting the ball. We’re going to have to make an adjustment and watch the tape.”

Lakers Andrew Bynum on making a run at the end of the 4th quarter:
“We played hard for the last 6 minutes of the game and we got back into it but it was too little to late.”

Pau Gasol:

Lakers Pau Gasol on what Denver is doing defensively to limit Bynum’s touches:
“They’ve been trying to make a conscious effort of not allowing easy passes into the post, so they are making an effort on taking the ball away from Andrew’s hands and we have to make sure we move the ball better so we can get the ball into the post.”

Lakers Pau Gasol on the team’s overall performance tonight:
“I think we were all frustrated tonight and didn’t play the game we wanted to play tonight. We didn’t bring the energy that was required to put this team away --- and they did. They played more desperate than we did and with more energy, and that gave them the chance to take the game.”

Lakers Pau Gasol on his thoughts of close-out games:
“These kinds of games are a double-edged sword because you think you have the chance to put the team away but you don’t make a conscious effort on attacking and controlling the game, and taking it from them. They’re just not going to lay down for you so hopefully we learned a lesson. We made it tougher for ourselves but now we have to go up to Denver and try to win Game 6.”

Steve Blake:

Lakers Steve Blake on whether momentum is important going into the next game:
“Momentum is big in this game. But at the same time, we’ve all been there on the winning side and the losing side so we’re prepared. We’re ready to get in there and play as good as we can and try to close this out.”

Lakers Steve Blake on Denver’s fight this series:
“No one said it was going to be easy. They are a good team, no question about it. So we’re going to have to really focus and execute when we there and try to get it in a tough environment.”

Kobe Bryant:

Lakers Kobe Bryant on whether the Nuggets were more motivated to come out and win after
“Did it pump them up? Probably. Would they have come out and played with that kind of energy anyway? Probably. We didn’t execute . They obviously played harder than we did. So it’s a lesson to learn.”

Lakers Kobe Bryant JaVale McGee:
“He’s really improved his game. He’s seems to be coming into his own in this playoff series and showing a lot of versatility and skill around the basket. Defensively as well, he’s changing shots so he’s blossoming in this series.”

Lakers Kobe Bryant on trying to overcome a deficit:
“I’ve been in this position before. I know a lot guys on the team haven’t been in this position before so it’s important to remind them, yeah, this sucks – but it’s not the end of the world. You got to go out there in a tough environment and gain some experience and play to your strengths.”

Lakers Kobe Bryant on whether the Lakers picked up their energy in the 4th quarter:
“I wouldn’t say our energy kicked in in the 4th quarter. I almost bailed us out, that’s what happened. It wasn’t the energy. I just started making shots left and right that got us back in the ball game. That’s not something we can use to rely on to get us to the championship. We all have to step up and we all have to contribute and we all have to play with that kind of energy and sense of urgency.

George Karl:

Nuggets coach George Karl on Andre Miller:
“I thought that Andre [Miller] was sensational in the second half. The way he orchestrated layups that we got and the lobs, he made some great plays, great athletic plays.”

Nuggets coach George Karl on how they could win:
“My hope, I don’t know if this is true or not, is that fatigue will come our way. The running of the game, the tempo of the game, and the pace the way we play. They’re getting tired of hearing it and you’re probably getting tired of hearing it but our only chance to beat them is run them and play with tremendous energy and intensity. Maybe somewhere along the way we’ll make some threes.”

Nuggets coach George Karl on the difficulty of winning the fourth game:
“I think it’s hard to win. I’ve been blessed to win a few series and it’s hard to win the next game. It’s the hardest thing in the world to win the fourth game. I don’t care who you’re playing, it’s hard to win that fourth game.”

Nuggets coach George Karl on liking the team:
“I think liking is in energy. For us to be successful we run and we have to play with a good energy. You know we have not been a great defensive team all year but we have opportunities to be good defensively. We controlled the game because of our defense and then it fell apart in the last seven or eight minutes. But, they’re coachable, they play with a past, and they play together. They play the right way generally, most of the time. We play with energy and intensity which I think is the biggest key of how we have got to play. That is why Kenneth [Faried] is so important to us because he’s our leader of intensity and energy.”

Ty Lawson:

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on the team’s offensive execution:
“This game and last game I think our offensive execution was better. The last game we had a lot of fast-break points but tonight we did a good job of executing in the half-court.”

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on the team’s rebounding improvements:
“We rebounded. We made it tough for all of them to get second chance points. That’s the main thing that helped us out tonight. We also hit more shots tonight than we did in past games in the series.”

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on going back to Denver:
“I’m elated. I’m ready to go. We’ve got a home crowd behind us and we know we play well at home.”

JaVale McGee:

Nuggets’ JaVale McGee on his motivation:
“Usually I’m nowhere near the playoffs. My last game of the year is usually at the end of the regular season in April. I didn’t want my last game to be tonight.”

Nuggets’ JaVale McGee on how big this game was for him:
“It means a lot but we’re still down in the series and still have games to win. It’s an honor to be here.”

Nuggets’ JaVale McGee on the team’s game plan:
“Our game plan was for everybody to rebound. That’s what we did. The guards rebounded, the bigs rebounded, and it worked for us.”

Andre Miller:

Nuggets’ Andre Miller on the Lakers fourth quarter run:
“I was just glad we didn’t go to overtime. There was too much energy in the building. A veteran team like that will fight their way back and they know how to finish games. We found a way to contain them and we rebounded the ball.”

Nuggets’ Andre Miller on his offensive mentality:
“I wanted to keep their bigs moving and take advantage of some post-ups against Steve (Blake) and Ramon (Sessions). We need someone out there to draw a double team and make the game a little easier for everyone else. We had some pin downs for Arron (Afflalo) and once they helped on Arron, we had lobs to JaVale (McGee).

Arron Afflalo:

Nuggets’ Arron Afflalo on the possibility of the Lakers wearing down in game 6:
“I don’t think they’re going to wear out, but we’re just trying to keep the pressure on, and keep competing. They will come in there trying to win. This isn’t just a ‘get the series back to LA’ game for them. That game is going to be a hard fought game. They’ve beaten us on our home floor before so we understand that.”

Nuggets’ Arron Afflalo on the Lakers fourth quarter run:
“You had to expect a run. Blake, Sessions, and Kobe were hitting some tough shots from beyond the arc. Sometimes there’s not a lot you can do about that. The idea is to maintain our focus and maintain the principles that allowed us to get a lead. They started to make shots off of the backboard and three’s in our face, and that’s just part of the game. We have to fight to the end and get to the next one.”

Nuggets - Lakers Preview


The Denver Nuggets have crept back into their series with the Los Angeles Lakers by outrunning and outgunning their older opponents.

The Nuggets will try to run them ragged again Thursday night in Game 6 back in Denver, where the mile-high altitude can be a big fatigue factor for a team long in the tooth like the star-studded Lakers.

It worked great at sea level Tuesday night with elder statesman Andre Miller feeding raw 7-foot center JaVale McGee, whose athleticism and mind-boggling array of dunks made L.A.'s two 7-footers look like they were moving in slow motion. And Denver coach George Karl is counting on the altitude helping the Nuggets contain Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to force a Game 7 back in Los Angeles. He said there's wear and tear at 5,280 feet even if visitors downplay it or even deny it.

''My hope, I don't know if this is true or not, is that fatigue will come our way,'' Karl said. ''The running of the game, the tempo of the game, and the pace, the way we play. They're getting tired of hearing it, and you're probably tired of hearing it, but our only chance to beat them is run them and play with tremendous energy and intensity. Maybe somewhere along the way, we'll make some 3s.''

The Nuggets avoided elimination with a 102-99 win in Game 5 thanks to McGee, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Miller, who scored 24 points and dished out eight assists before making his biggest contribution: guarding Bryant on the Lakers' final, futile possession.

McGee repeatedly sped past the slower Lakers for breakaway buckets, and even when he wasn't beating them to the hoop, he was muscling his way around the paint for his usual repertoire of jaw-dropping baskets, then sprinting back downcourt to help rookie sparkplug Kenneth Faried put a big roadblock in the Lakers' path.

''JaVale's a huge target and he's athletic,'' Arron Afflalo said. ''As we all know, Andre likes to throw those high-lob passes and backdoor passes. It makes for a good combination.''

''I don't think I've ever coached a guy like this,'' Karl said. ''He has the moves of a 6-6 player. The guy reminds me a little bit of Connie Hawkins with his long, unfolding one-handed stuff. But he has a long way to go to become Connie Hawkins.'' He's off to a good start in making a name for himself with his underrated post game, undoubtedly boosting his value in free agency this summer.

''Usually, I'm nowhere near the playoffs,'' said McGee, who spent his first 3 1/2 seasons with the Washington Wizards before coming to Denver in the Nene deadline deal. ''My last game of the year is usually at the end of the regular season in April.''

May suits him very well, as does Denver's up-tempo style.

''He attacked off the glass,'' Bynum said. ''That is what was causing me problems, personally. Other than that, he gets balls in transition. We've got to get back.''

Gasol said the Lakers were frustrated because ''we didn't bring the energy that was required to put this team away, and they did. They played more desperate than we did and with more energy.''

So, instead of preparing to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals, the Lakers have to make another trip to Denver to try to put away these speedy, scrappy Nuggets. Fueling the Nuggets' jetpacks Tuesday night was Bynum's comment about how closeout playoff games can sometimes be easy. He made no such declarations heading into this next elimination game.

''We need some more things to put on the bulletin board,'' Ty Lawson said. ''That definitely helped us out. We'll probably just put that up again and pretend we never heard it before.'' Neither team practiced Wednesday. The Nuggets stayed overnight in Southern California rather than hopping a red-eye home.

''We didn't want to take that trip where you went to bed at 4 o'clock in the morning and you wake up and feel awful for a day,'' Karl said.

Karl also wanted his players to get over their happiness rather quickly and start focusing on Game 6, something the Lakers and their fans weren't expecting.

''I've been in this position before,'' Bryant said. ''I know a lot of guys on the team haven't been in this position before, so it's important to remind them, 'Yeah, this (stinks), but it's not the end of the world.'''

So, the Nuggets have momentum on their side and they've got the deeper roster with fresher, younger legs. The Lakers have experience and talent, rings and All-Star resumes.

Who will feel the heat?

''I think the pressure's on them now,'' Lawson suggested. Not so fast, suggested Karl.

''We've got to beat a championship-caliber team with three All-Stars. Our pressure is the same,'' Karl said. ''The momentum of the series and the pendulum is kind of tilted to us a little bit, but I always believe ... the team that's down 3-2 is the one that still feels the pressure.''

He's just hoping it's the Lakers who are breathing hard again Thursday night.

L DEN 99, LAL 96
W LAL 92, DEN 88
L DEN 99, LAL 84
W LAL 104, DEN 100
W LAL 103, DEN 88
Probable Starters
#3 Ebanks SF #8 Gallinari
#16 Gasol PF #35 Faried
#17 Bynum C #25 Mozgov
#24 Bryant SG #6 Afflalo
#7 Sessions PG #3 Lawson

Lakers Matt Barnes
(sprained right ankle) is day-to-day.
Devin Ebanks
(middle & ring finger contusions, left hand) is probable.

Al Harrington
(right knee strain) is probable.
Wilson Chandler
(left hip, labral tear) is out.
Rudy Fernandez
(lower back strain) is out.

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 W 92-88
Game 5: 5/08 - DEN @ LAL L 99-96
Game 6: 5/10 - LAL @ DEN
* Game 7: 5/12 - DEN @ LAL
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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