Nuggets survive late surge to force Game 6May 9, 2012 - 6:51 AM Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - The Denver Nuggets can breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Kobe Bryant went on an offensive onslaught in the fourth quarter, and with his team trailing by as many as 15 in the final frame, Bryant had a chance to tie the contest with a three-pointer in the waning seconds, but his shot from the left wing was too strong.
Following a Steve Blake offensive rebound, Ramon Sessions then had an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but his right-wing trey clanged off the rim and the Nuggets escaped to stave off elimination with a 102-99 win in Game 5 of this Western Conference first-round series.
"Thank god we had a big enough lead," Denver head coach George Karl said. "Kobe scares the hell out of me."
Acquired in a mid-season trade from Washington, JaVale McGee finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks to lead Denver, which heads back to the Pepsi Center for a Game 6 on Thursday. Andre Miller scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half.
"I definitely didn't want this to be my last game so I went all out," McGee said. "Andre (Miller) gave us a motivational speech before the game. Tonight I wanted to make a statement that I'm here."
Bryant nailed four three-pointers in the final 4:47 of the game and netted 14 of his 43 points in the fourth-quarter barrage. The 40-point game was the 13th of his career, the fourth most in NBA playoff history.
"We didn't play with the effort that we should have," Bryant said. "We clearly weren't ready."
Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles.
"Denver played a good game from start to finish. They were more physical than we were," Lakers head coach Mike Brown said.
The Lakers registered wire-to-wire wins over the Nuggets in their first two games of this series at Staples Center, but Denver led throughout the majority of this one and McGee's dunk midway through the fourth quarter gave the visitor's a 90-75 advantage.
But Bryant led the Lakers on a 15-4 outburst which got the home team back in the contest.
He nailed a pair of triples during the stretch and Los Angeles' deficit was 94-90 with 2:33 remaining.
After Miller's layup put the Nuggets back up by six, two more Bryant treys sandwiched around a Miller bank shot whittled the Denver margin to 98-96 with 59.1 seconds to go.
Al Harrington split a pair of foul shots at the other end, but Bryant was unable to tie the game with a triple with 20.9 seconds to play.
Ty Lawson then proceeded to hit 1-of-2 from the line to make it 100-96, but Sessions nailed a big three-ball to pull the home team within a point with 14 seconds left.
Miller poured in two foul shots with 12.8 remaining and Bryant and Sessions couldn't complete the Lakers' furious comeback in the final five seconds.
Kenneth Faried netted eight points and grabbed five boards as Denver had a 26-23 edge after the opening stanza.
A 12-4 run catapulted the Nuggets to a 47-37 lead late in the second, and they took 49-43 margin into the locker room. Denver registered 15 fastbreak points in the half.
Back-to-back buckets from Bryant and Sessions to begin the second half helped the Lakers claw within 49-47 before the Nuggets responded with a 10-0 flurry.
Danilo Gallinari netted six points during the swing, giving Denver a 59-47 lead early in the third stanza.
The Nuggets led 76-65 after three quarters of play.
The Lakers shot 38.9 percent from the floor and 9-of-24 from beyond the arc, while Denver made just 3-of-19 shots from three-point range...Bryant moved into second place in the NBA's all-time playoff free throws made category.
- DENVER: 102
LOS ANGELES: 99
May 9 1:23 AM
- DENVER: 76
LOS ANGELES: 65
End of 3rd
May 9 12:40 AM
- DENVER: 49
LOS ANGELES: 43
May 8 11:55 PM
- DENVER: 26
LOS ANGELES: 23
End of 1st
May 8 11:16 PM
- DENVER: 0
LOS ANGELES: 0
1st Quarter - 11:35
May 8 10:51 PM
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