May 27 - STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. Playing intense defense and making the ball go inside to their big men, the Lakers got a 103-94 victory that leaves them neening just one win to advance to another NBA Finals.
The score was tied after the first, second and third quarters for just the fourth time in NBA playoff history. The Nuggets led by 7 points twice in the third quarter, the last one 73-66 with 5 minutes left but the Lakers went into a 21-3 run that included an 11-0 to open the fourth and put them ahead 87-76 with 8:11 remaining in the game. Denver got to 96-91 with 1:24 left but in the next play the Lakers showed how good they can play basketball. Kobe Bryant found himself open for a three-pointer but when he was in the air he changed his mind and assisted Odom under the basket for 2 points and a foul and the game was basically over.
Kobe Bryant had scored 40 and 41 points in the other Lakers' victories in this series, but this time his 22 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists were more than enough while many of his teammates made their contribution. Gasol was the anchor of the offense and a big presence on the defensive end and finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocked shots. Coming off the bench Lamar Odom had a solid game, specially in the second half and ended with 19 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 blocked shots and Andrew Bynum was productive in the offense in the first half and added 9 points in 19 minutes. Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups added 12 points each for the Nuggets while J.R. Smith, maybe their best player in game 4, missed 9 of 10 3-point attempts and got 7 points and Nene fouled out with 4:02 remaining, with 4 points and 8 rebounds. He has fouled out of three games in this series.
Both teams looked anxious most of the game, like trying to win it on every play but the Lakers showed their composure in the key moments. Sasha Vujacic was on the floor just 3 1/2 minutes but he made the 3-pointer that tied the game at 56 going into the halftime. Derek Fisher who has been in a shooting slump in these Playoffs started the game in attack mode and scored 12 points, his backup Shannon Brown gave L.A. the spark they needed in the key moments of the fourth and Trevor Ariza added another 12 that included a couple of circus shots to rebound from a poor game 4.