Fourth quarter three-pointers hit by Kobe Bryant, all in a four-plus minute stretch, to bring L.A. from down 13 at the 4:45 mark to down two at the 59 second mark. Despite four more chances to tie the game, however, the Lakers couldn’t get over the hump, with Bryant’s final three (and one from Ramon Sessions) coming off the rim in the final 12 seconds.
Offensive rebounds for an extremely effective JaVale McGee, who put back most of his boards with dunks towards 21 points with 14 rebounds, plus two blocks. He really hurt the Lakers throughout the evening, outplaying Andrew Bynum (16 points, 11 boards, one block).
Assists for both Denver point guards, Andre Miller and Ty Lawson, who repeatedly got into L.A.’s paint.
LAL’s deficit going into the fourth quarter, which proved just enough for Denver to stem the tide of a rapid comeback.
Points for Andre Miller, including 10 in the fourth quarter and six in the final two minutes, for the 36-year-old native of Los Angeles. Miller countered two late Bryant triples with buckets on the other end that kept L.A. from getting over the ultimate hump. L.A. have really missed the suspended Metta World Peace in this context, as Kobe’s had to guard Danilo Gallinari (MWP’s normal cover), leaving Blake to cover the bigger Miller.
L.A.’s poor shooting percentage, despite a hot fourth quarter in which nearly 50 percent of LAL’s shots went down. An inability to get the ball into the post was a major factor here, and ball reversal was not strong.
Points from Bryant, the 84th time in his career he’s scored at least 30 in a playoff game, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter. Said Nuggets coach George Karl: “Kobe’s incredible; he scares the hell out of me every time we go against him.”
Paint points for the Nuggets, which Mike Brown bemoaned after the game. L.A. had only 44, managing only a combined 25 from Bynum and Gasol. The lack of rim protection is really where the Lakers lost the game. As Mike Brown put it: “Our weak side did not do a good job of protecting the paint like we did last game … Denver came and played a very good game from start to finish. I thought they came out and hit first and continued to hit throughout the game. They were more physical than us.”