With a chance to move on to the second round of the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers instead gave a meager performance, fell behind by 15 points in the fourth quarter and hoped that Kobe Bryant could save them. He tried mightily — 15 of his 43 points came in the fourth quarter — but it was not enough to prevent the Denver Nuggets from earning a 102-99 victory.
And so, the series is now 3-2 for the Lakers, who have to win Thursday in Denver to advance to meet Oklahoma City, which swept the Dallas Mavericks.
Andre Miller, with 24 points, dominated Steve Blake in the fourth quarter, going one-on-one with dazzling ease. Miller’s two foul shots with 12.8 gave Denver a three-point cushion. Reserve center JaVale McGee outplayed the Laker’s Andrew Bynum in a big way. McGee had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Nuggets, who were inspired by Bynum’s comment that closing out a series is “easy.”
”That’s true, closeouts can be easy,” Bryant said. ”Tonight wasn’t one of those nights. … Did it pump them up? Probably. You never want to give anybody bulletin board material, but if you’re going to be a champion, you’ve got to play through things like that.”