Andrew Bynum goes for a rebound. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
After a timeout was called by the Nuggets midway through second quarter, Jordan Hill made one of two free throws for a seven-point Laker lead. Kobe Bryant then scored his 21st point and extended the Lakers run to 9-0. Devin Ebanks was fouled after another Nuggets miss but missed both free throws.
Ty Lawson finally ended the Lakers run with a basket with a little less than four minutes to play. After a Steve Blake miss, JaVale McGee closed it to five. Each team exchanged baskets twice down the court and the margin was five with 1:38 to play.
The Lakers tried to give themselves some distance and did with a perfect pass from Pau Gasol to Andrew Bynum for the slam. Ramon Session then passed up an easy shot and went to Gasol, who buried a jumper. The Nuggets answered but the Lakers were starting to put an exclamation point on the period as Bynum took the ball underneath, scored, but missed the free throw. It was his 16th point.
The Nuggets salvaged a little when Kenneth Faried scored at the buzzer with a putack. But the Lakers still had to be happy with a seven-point lead.
The Lakers were 24 of 35 for the half (53.3%) while the Nuggets were 20 of 52 (38.5%). The Nuggets held a 30-23 rebounding edge.
At the start of the quarter, the Nuggets came out and closed the gap to four thanks to a couple of baskets by Danilo Gallinari. Ebanks gave the Lakers some temporary relief before Kosta Koufos and Corey Brewer scored to make the game 36-34.
But these were the Lakers without Bryant and Bynum. At that point the Nuggets' bench was outscoring the Lakers bench, 15-2.
The Lakers came out of a timeout but Steve Blake turned the ball over. The Nuggets couldn’t convert. Bryant returned to the game and the Staples Center crowd stopped holding its breath. But not for long.
After a missed basket, Timofey Mosgov tied the game. But that's when Bryant stepped up with a basket and then a free throw off a Gallinari technical. But he wasn’t done as he came back with another basket for his 19thpoint of the game, and the game was only midway in the second quarter.
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