for this game

Clutch Bryant trumps Iverson as Lakers top Nuggets

Dec 6, 2007 - 6:28 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- It wasn't the 2001 NBA Finals, but Allen Iverson was torching the Los Angeles Lakers once again. This time, Kobe Bryant trumped him.

Bryant scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to overshadow Iverson's 51-point performance as the Lakers held off the Denver Nuggets, 111-107, at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday night.

Battling a sore left shoulder, Bryant held Iverson to just two points in the final period as Los Angeles secured the victory. Iverson, who shot 18-of-27 from the field, was just 1-of-5 in the fourth.

Bryant scored six points in the final 1:41 to seal the win, hitting a scoop shot and a fadeaway to make it 106-102 with 1:12 left. The Lakers did not trail again.

"This was a good victory for us," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We had to absorb a lot of points from Iverson and he got our whole team in foul trouble. I had to sit Kobe almost the whole third quarter."

But it came after a vintage performance by Iverson, who scored 48 points as the Philadelphia 76ers posted a surprising 107-101 overtime victory over the Lakers in Game One of the 2001 Finals. The 76ers went on to lose the next four games.

Albeit on a lesser stage, Iverson had it all working Wednesday night, taking charge of a Nuggets' offense that he has been happy to share with fellow superstar Carmelo Anthony since getting dealt to Denver early last season.

"It was fun seeing him play that well," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I felt he got a bit tired in the fourth quarter, especially having to endure all the contact he took."

Anthony and the rest of the Nuggets knew to stay out of the way of the red-hot Iverson, who netted 33 points in the first half and 49 after the third quarter en route to his highest-scoring output since joining Denver.

"Somehow I got 49 points in the first three quarters," said Iverson, who notched the highest-scoring output in the NBA this season, trumping Tracy McGrady's 47 on November 1. "Obviously, it is going to draw attention from the other team. I just got in a rhythm early, and it carried on throughout the game."

The eight-time All-Star scored a career-high 60 points vs. the Orlando Magic on February 12, 2005, with the 76ers. He seemed well on his way to besting that mark until the Lakers ran double- and triple-teams at him in the fourth quarter.

"Once they forced me to get the ball out of my hands, it was my responsibility to get the ball to my teammates to make plays," Iverson said.

"We didn't slow him down," Jackson said. "He slowed down himself. We had a good road win against Phoenix this season, but it wasn't as nip-and-tuck as this game."

Iverson fell just one point shy of the all-time scoring record at the Pepsi Center, when Bryant netted 52 on February 12, 2003.

It was a wonder Bryant was around for crunch time after bruising his left shoulder with two seconds left in the first quarter. He accidentally was tripped by Eduardo Najera and immediately went to the locker room, but returned with an ice pack for the injury.

"He did a great job," Iverson said of Bryant. "He did everything he felt they needed to get over the hump. He was in foul trouble and a little banged up and came back in and got it done."

Trailing for most of the game despite Bryant's four fouls, the Nuggets went on a 10-2 run, capped by two free throws by J.R. Smith to make it 100-96 with 4:24 left in the game.

Iverson then scored his first points of the fourth quarter to give the Nuggets a three-point bulge, 102-99, with 3:15 left - pushing him over the 50-point threshold for the 11th time in his career.

But Andrew Bynum then slammed home an emphatic dunk off a lob by Bryant and Vladimir Radmanovic hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 102-102 - setting up Bryant's clutch run.

Anthony had 26 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.