Lakers Gameday | 05/23/09 | Lakers 103, Nuggets 97

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Los Angeles Lakers 26 22 23 32 103
Denver Nuggets 28 24 27 18 97

Lakers Game Leaders
Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant
41 Points
Field Goals: 12 of 24
FG: 50%
Pau Gasol Pau Gasol
11 Rebounds
Defensive: 10
Offensive: 1
Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant
5 Assists
6 Rebounds
2 Steals
Pau Gasol Pau Gasol
20 Points
1 Block


  • Lakers 103, Nuggets 97: Postgame 3
  • Lakers - Nuggets Running Diary 3
  • Saturday Shootaround Notes
  • Video

    Post-Game Numbers
  • 60 - Field goal percentage by the Lakers in the fourth quarter on 9-of-15 shots, highlighted by two threes from Trevor Ariza and the big dagger from Bryant.
  • 39.3 - Shooting percentage for the game by the Nuggets.
  • 26 - Second half points for Bryant en route to his 41.
  • 15 - Free throws made by Kobe Bryant in 17 attempts, who took - and gave - all kinds of contact throughout the game.
  • 14 - Free throws missed by the Lakers. All seven players who attempted a free throw missed at least once for the Lakers, though the team made 11-of-14 in the fourth quarter.
  • 7 - Straight road playoff wins for the Lakers in Denver.
  • 5 - Field goals made by the Nuggets in the fourth quarter on 22 attempts (22.7 percent). Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith combined to go just 3-for-11, while Anthony was 0-for-2.
  • 3 - Second half points for Carmelo Anthony, all on free throws, as he went 0-for-4 from the field.
    --Mike Trudell,

    Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets

    Derek Fisher
    D. Fisher

    Kobe Bryant
    K. Bryant

    Trevor Ariza
    T. Ariza

    Pau Gasol
    P. Gasol

    Andrew Bynum
    A. Bynum

    Chauncey Billups
    C. Billups

    Dahntay Jones
    D. Jones

    Carmelo Anthony

    Kenyon Martin
    K. Martin


    Lakers Gameday Articles and Updates
    Bryant's 3 sparks Lakers past Nuggets

    DENVER(AP) Kobe Bryant's 3-pointer wasn't nearly as dramatic as LeBron James' but equally effective.

    Bryant's big shot over J.R. Smith gave Los Angeles a one-point lead with just over a minute left Saturday night and sparked the Lakers to a 103-97 victory over the downtrodden Denver Nuggets for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

    Bryant, who scored 41 points, went 5-of-6 on free throws to ice it after his 3-pointer gave Los Angeles a 96-95 lead.

    Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points but just three after halftime for Denver, which lost at home for the first time since March 9. He was 4-for-13 in his worst performance of the postseason.

    Before Saturday night, the Nuggets had been dominant at home in the playoffs. They ran away with all six games at Pepsi Center against the New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks by an average of 17.5 points.

    But as Bryant said, "It's the Western Conference finals. It should be close.''

    The Nuggets, who led most of the game but were done in by poor decisions and a failure to keep their composure, fell behind by four points when Trevor Ariza stole Kenyon Martin's inbounds pass, was fouled by Anthony and sank two foul shots for a 99-95 lead with 36 seconds left.

    Chauncey Billups' two free throws made it 99-97, but Bryant sank two more free throws with 22 seconds remaining, Billups missed a 3-pointer and Bryant capped his big night with two more foul shots with 12 seconds left.

    Several hours before the game, Bryant was admiring James' buzzer-beater that gave Cleveland a 96-95 win over Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals, saying big-time players make big-time shots.

    He showed that.

    The Nuggets had won 16 in a row at home, and now Los Angeles has grabbed back the home-court advantage.

    Game 4 is Monday night, when the Lakers and Nuggets will have the Pepsi Center to themselves after World Wrestling Entertainment moved Monday Night Raw to the Staples Center in Los Angeles because of the double booking that WWE chairman Vince McMahon milked for all it was worth.

    That doesn't mean the crowd in Denver won't see some elbows, forearms and more trash talking like they did Saturday night, when there were five technicals called, including one on Smith for taunting Sasha Vujacic after swishing a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer.

    The Nuggets took a 79-71 lead on Smith's bucket. Vujacic, who had just hit a 3-pointer of his own, his first points of the game, nearly stole Billups' pass, but Smith snared it, spun and swished the 3-pointer as the backboard lit up in red and he fell to the floor with the crowd going crazy.

    Caught up in the moment, Smith jumped up jawing at Vujacic and was T'd up.

    Denver coach George Karl told ABC at the break that he didn't like the way the Nuggets had played the third quarter, saying they had lost composure with fouls and technicals and weren't playing smart.

    Before the fourth quarter started, Bryant swished the technical free throw, and the comeback had begun.

    Ariza's 3-pointer gave the Lakers an 81-80 lead with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

    After Billups' four-point play - a 3-pointer while getting bumped by Bryant - gave Denver a 89-86 lead, Pau Gasol hit back-to-back jumpers over Nene to put the Lakers back on top, and Bryant's bucket made it 92-91 with three minutes left.

    The Lakers were just 9-of-17 on free throws in the first half and Denver hit 17 of 20, but the Nuggets couldn't break free for one of their patented spurts, twice missing three shots on one trip downcourt when a bucket would have given them some cushion.

    Notes: Lakers C Andrew Bynum has been saying he wants to play more minutes and his coach said he can if he plays better defense. ... Bryant grabbed his right hamstring after Martin rejected his shot early in the third quarter, but he stayed in the game and quickly showed he was quite all right by hitting an uncontested 3-pointer.

    Copyright 2009 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


    DENVER (AP) The Denver Nuggets left Los Angeles with homecourt advantage in the Western Conference finals after beating the Lakers in the postseason for the first time since 1985.

    They didn't exactly skip happily home, however.

    For one thing, they're too banged up, Carmelo Anthony's tender ankle, J.R. Smith's strained calf and Kenyon Martin's broken ring finger testament to the rough-and-tumble nature of this tight matchup.

    They're also too busy kicking themselves.

    The Nuggets, who watched film in L.A. before flying home Friday and taking the rest of the day off, thought they should have taken a 2-0 lead back to Denver.

    They're still lamenting their loss in the opener, when Anthony Carter's lazy lob on the inbounds to Chauncey Billups was stolen by Trevor Ariza in the closing seconds to seal the Lakers' improbable win in a game Denver had dominated but failed to seal at the foul line or by getting the ball to a red-hot Anthony in crunch time.

    "We played hard, but we didn't play smart,'' Martin said. "So I feel if we would've (done) that like we did last night it would've been a different outcome in Game 1. But who's to say? It didn't happen that way so we'll take the split, go home and try to get both of those.''

    Game 3 is Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets haven't lost in 11 weeks, followed 48 hours later by Game 4.

    The Lakers feel they, too, should be heading to Denver halfway to winning the best-of-7 series.

    "A bounce of the ball here and we're up 2-0,'' Kobe Bryant said. "A bounce of the ball here and they win Game 1.''

    That's how close this series is: both times each team, has done enough things right to have a shot at the end and enough things wrong to have plenty of regrets.

    So, the Nuggets think they squandered away a game in L.A.?

    "We probably returned the favor,'' Bryant said.

    Now, he and the rest of the Lakers will try to snare the homecourt advantage back.

    "They're a good team and they can come in our building and get both games if we don't show up and play,'' Martin said. "So, we've got to be on our 'A' game.''

    Indeed, the Lakers were an NBA-best 29-12 on the road in the regular season, although they're just 2-3 away from Staples Center in the playoffs.

    The Nuggets, conference finalists for the first time in 24 years, are 6-0 at home in the playoffs.

    "When you don't have homecourt advantage, you just want to try to steal it however you can and we had a good opportunity in Game 1 and couldn't close out,'' Billups said. "Game 2, we learned from our mistakes and closed out. So we stole homecourt advantage and now we just want to try to be aggressive and play like we have been playing on our home floor.''

    The Nuggets now have the home court and also the pressure that goes along with it. Still, Bryant said he expects the Nuggets to turn it up a notch in Denver.

    "They'll be playing looser, with more confidence, more energy, more aggression,'' Bryant said after Friday's film session and workout. "... It's always been a tough place to play. They had a great home record last season, too. This season is no different.''

    Actually, behind Billups, the first player in 20 years to play in seven straight conference championships, instead of Allen Iverson, these Nuggets aren't anything like the team that lost twice at home to the Lakers in last year's playoffs.

    Take Thursday night's 106-103 win, their ninth in 12 playoff games.

    "A year ago we wouldn't have won that basketball game,'' Anthony said. "Early in the game on the road, we get down 10, 12 points, 13 points early? We're not winning that basketball game. But that just goes to show how tough of a team we are now.''

    They went from being afterthoughts in the West to a team that is three wins shy of its first trip to the NBA finals.

    "We're growing up pretty quick,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said, noting the transformation from pretender to contender usually "takes two to three years'' when the right pieces are in place.

    "We're doing it in six to seven months.''

    With the series shifting to Colorado, both teams are calling for more consistency and production from their bench. Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar aren't giving L.A. their usual boost and for Denver, Smith's shot isn't falling, Carter has been in a funk and Chris "Birdman'' Andersen has his hands full guarding Pau Gasol.

    Linas Kleiza came to the rescue in Game 2 with 16 points and eight rebounds while opening up the floor for Anthony and Billups, easily his best performance of the season.

    It might very well have saved the Nuggets' season, allowing them to return home lamenting their 1-1 split instead of an 0-2 hole.


    Freelance writers Victoria Sun and Elliott Teaford in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2009 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


    It’s time to start sounding like a broken record.  Rebounds and free throws were once again the crucial aspects of game 2.  Even though the final rebound numbers were 43-42 (in our favor) and 14-13 in offensive rebounds (in their favor) it was the timing of their offensive rebounds that hurt us.  In the second half, Carmelo Anthony had some important offensive rebounds that he converted into easy putbacks and each one was like a dagger. Denver 4 Up Martin PlayIn the free throw battle they made some crucial ones down the stretch while we missed some.  The other key aspect in this area was that we put Anthony on the line 14 times and we put Billups on the line 16 times.  The bottom line is that we must do a better job of defending without fouling.  These two areas will once again be a big determining factor in the next two games in the Pepsi Center in Denver.

    We need to do a better job of containing Kenyon Martin.  Most of his points are coming as a direct result of the attention we are paying to Carmelo and Billups.  The phrase that is often thrown out in these kinds of situations is that we need to “help the helper”. 

    Click here to the full scouting report...



    With their Game 7 victory over the Rockets on May 17, the Lakers advanced to their 39th Western Conference/Division Finals series in franchise history (29 Los Angeles,
    10 Minneapolis). Currently in their 61st NBA season, the Lakers have participated in 64 percent of the NBA’s Western Conference/Division Finals since the 1948-49
    season and have advanced to the NBA Finals on 29 occasions. Since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers have gone 23-5 in Western Conference/Divison Finals while
    going 6-4 in Division Finals during their time in Minneapolis. The Lakers have won five consecutive Conference Finals series with their last loss in the Conference Finals
    coming to Utah in 1998 (0-4). Lakers head coach Phil Jackson is 11-1 all-time in Conference Finals series (5-0 Los Angeles, 6-1 Chicago).

    The Lakers and Nuggets have met four times in the postseason (1979, 1985, 1987 and 2008) with Los Angeles advancing on each occasion, most recently defeating
    Denver 4-0 in the 2008 Western Conference First Round. The Lakers have won 14-of-17 postseason games against the Nuggets, losing twice at home (8-2) and once on
    the road (6-1). The Lakers won 11 straight playoff games against Denver from 5/17/85 – 5/19/09, marking the 2nd longest playoff streak against one team in NBA history
    behind the Lakers 12-game win streak versus Seattle from 1980-89. The latest these two teams have met in the playoffs was in the 1985 Western Conference Finals (4-1).
    In 1979, the Lakers defeated Denver 2-1 in the Western Conference First Round while they swept the Nuggets 3-0 in the 1987 Western Conference First Round.


  • The Lakers are now 66-29 in best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (60-28 Los Angeles, 6-1 Minneapolis)
  • The Lakers are now 61-34 in Game 1 of best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (57-31 Los Angeles, 4-3 Minneapolis)
  • When winning Game 1 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 54-7. (50-7 Los Angeles, 4-0 Minneapolis)
  • When losing Game 1 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are now 12-22 all-time. (10-21 Los Angeles, 2-1 Minneapolis)
  • When losing Game 1 at home of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are now 8-3 all-time. (7-3 Los Angeles, 1-0 Minneapolis)
  • The Lakers are now 55-40 in Game 2 of best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (52-36 Los Angles, 3-4 Minneapolis)
  • When winning both Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 38-1 all-time. (37-1 Los Angeles, 1-0 Minneapolis)
  • When splitting Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are now 26-12 all-time. (21-12 Los Angeles, 5-0 Minneapolis)
  • When losing Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 2-16 all-time. (2-15 Los Angeles, 0-1 Minneapolis)
    With 32 points 5/21 vs. Denver, Kobe Bryant moved past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4,070) for 2nd on the Lakers all-time playoff scoring list. Earlier this postseason, with 33
    points 5/8 at Houston, Kobe Bryant moved past Larry Bird (3,897) for 6th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list. In the Lakers First Round series, Kobe Bryant scored 38
    points 4/25 at Utah to move past Hakeem Olajuwon (3,755) and John Havlicek (3,776) for 7th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list. On April 19, Bryant passed Magic
    Johnson (3,701) for 9th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list and 3rd on the Lakers franchise playoff scoring list. In moving past Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar, only Jerry
    West (4,457) has scored more points in a Lakers uniform during the playoffs than Bryant (4,087). Next up on the all-time NBA list is Jerry West (5th/4,457). Among all
    players with 2,500+ postseason points, only Michael Jordan (33.4), Jerry West (29.1), Elgin Baylor (27.0), Hakeem Olajuwon (25.9), Shaquille O’Neal (25.2) and Karl
    Malone (24.7) have a higher postseason scoring average than Bryant (24.6).


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