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Bynum returns, leads Lakers past Nuggets

Dec 31, 2011 - 11:48 PM Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Andrew Bynum returned to the court with a vengeance.

In his first game back from a four-game suspension, Bynum scored 29 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and hit the eventual game-winning shot in the Lakers' narrow 92-89 win over the Nuggets on New Year's Eve.

Kobe Bryant had 17 points and 10 boards and Pau Gasol added 17 points for LA, which has won three straight after starting the season 0-2.

"I was pretty winded today," said Bynum. "I wanted to be aggressive. I wanted to get the ball down low and make shots."

Al Harrington paced the Nuggets with 21 points, while Nene, Arron Afflalo and Andre Miller each finished with 13. Danilo Gallinari missed a potential tying layup with 1.9 seconds left as Denver dropped its second straight.

The Nuggets led 87-82 with less than five minutes left, but Bynum scored his team's next five points, dropping a turnaround hook and converting a three- point play with an alley-oop dunk and subsequent free throw.

Trailing 89-87, Derek Fisher missed a wild three-point attempt as the shot clock expired, but dove on the long rebound and called timeout to retain possession for LA. Bryant was fouled by Gallinari and hit a pair of free throws out of the timeout to tie the game at 89.

Bynum then put his team on top, blocking a Nene shot, running the floor and converting a contested layup in the paint for a 91-89 lead.

The Nuggets -- particularly Gallinari -- failed to pull even down the stretch despite several opportunities. Ty Lawson missed a pair of free throws with 1:13 remaining and Gallinari was well off on an open three-point attempt seconds later.

With under 10 seconds remaining, Miller corralled a Bryant miss and found a streaking Gallinari, who was too strong with a left-handed layup. The ball hit glass and bounced harmlessly off the rim. Bryant grabbed the rebound and hit 1-of-2 foul shots to seal the win.

"The game of basketball teats you badly sometimes," said Nuggets coach George Karl. "We'll have to make adjustments."

Game Notes

Bynum initially received a five-game suspension for committing a hard foul on J.J. Barea in the finale of the Lakers' sweep at the hands of the Mavericks in last season's playoffs. The suspension was reduced to four games due to the shortened 66-game season...Bryant is four points shy of 28,000 for his career...The Lakers held a 36-28 advantage on the glass but went just 2-of-24 from beyond the arc.