Lakers, minus Kobe, clinch playoff berthApr 14, 2012 - 7:10 AM Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - With Kobe Bryant sidelined for a fourth consecutive game, Matt Barnes provided a spark off the bench by scoring a season-high 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched a playoff spot with in a 103-97 victory over the Nuggets.
"With Kobe out, we all have to step up," Barnes said. "They left us open and we hit shots. My job is to come out with energy and play hard. When we play hard, we're a hard team to beat."
Andrew Bynum netted a game-high 30 points and Pau Gasol contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win, Los Angeles' third in a row and seventh in nine tries.
Andre Miller paced Denver with 20 points while Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo donated 18 apiece in a losing effort. The Nuggets, who saw a two-game winning streak snapped, are tied with Houston for seventh in the Western Conference. Ninth-place Phoenix is just a game back and Utah is lurking 1 1/2 games behind.
Denver's next two games are against the Rockets, Sunday and Monday.
Los Angeles led by double-digits for the majority of the game after grabbing a 9-8 edge midway through the first, but the Nuggets made it interesting late.
Trailing 87-75, Harrington spurred a 12-2 rally with a reverse layup. Later, Bynum hit a pair from the line before Harrington got Denver within one on a three-pointer from the right wing.
But Barnes answered with his own triple, sparking an 8-0 Los Angeles run to put the game away.
"We played good defense in the fourth quarter .We had some looks at the end, but we missed a layup that would have given us the lead, and we missed a wide- open three," said Nuggets coach George Karl. "I'm proud of the way we played tonight."
JaVale McGee scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds...Los Angeles shot 50.7 percent from the floor while holding Denver to 44.6 percent...Lakers coach Mike Brown left Staples Center prior to tipoff for undisclosed personal reasons.
- DENVER: 97
LOS ANGELES: 103
Apr 14 1:02 AM
- DENVER: 48
LOS ANGELES: 54
Apr 13 11:38 PM
- DENVER: 19
LOS ANGELES: 30
End of 1st
Apr 13 11:06 PM
- DENVER: 0
LOS ANGELES: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 13 10:42 PM
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