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Lakers look sick in Game 6 loss to Nuggets

Denver rolls, 113-96, and forces a deciding game at Staples Center on Saturday night.

May 10, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant should have stayed in his hotel room.

Conserved energy. Continued to drink a lot of fluids. Rest up.

Instead, he played in Game 6 after missing the morning shoot-around because of intestinal flu symptoms. His teammates certainly didn't make him feel better.

The Lakers didn't just lose to the Denver Nuggets. They were humiliated, disgraced and whatever other synonyms the thesaurus spat out in a 113-96 loss Thursday at Pepsi Center.

Game 7 is Saturday at Staples Center, stunningly.

The Nuggets will be ecstatic to be there. The Lakers? Who knows?

Bryant received two IV bags before the game and two at halftime because of dehydration. It didn't stop him from scoring 31 points on respectable 13-for-23 shooting, but the hole in the Lakers' frontcourt was devastatingly obvious.

Pau Gasol had three points on one-for-10 shooting and added three rebounds in almost 29 minutes. Andrew Bynum was marginally better than Gasol on offense, scoring 11 points on four-for-11 shooting and taking 16 rebounds.

Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. Fittingly, the last time involved the Lakers, who fumbled a 3-1 edge in the first round against Phoenix in 2006.

"Kobe being dehydrated and sick as a dog, coming out and trying to will us to a win, it's disappointing watching him give that type of effort ? and we don't get it from everybody," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "Our second- and third-best players are Drew and Pau, and the reality of it is both those guys have to play better in order for us to win."

Bryant agreed with Brown, looking exhausted as he spoke to reporters with his chin on his left palm.

"Yeah, we let each other down for sure ... they know that," Bryant said. "I expect them to come out in Game 7 and play with a sense of urgency and desperation that wasn't there the last two games."

Bryant wasn't sure how he got ill but said his hotel room "resembled a scene from 'The Exorcist.'"

The Lakers have lost only one Game 7 at home in their history, the 1969 NBA Finals against Boston.

They were never in it Thursday, trailing, 13-0, before the game was four minutes old.

Worse than that, Gasol and Bynum had exactly one point between them midway through the second quarter. It was Bynum's point, for the record, a free throw with 4:04 left in the first quarter.

"I've still got to find a way to be effective, find a way to be a factor," said Gasol, who had nine points in Game 5. "We've got to be as strong and as united as ever to be able to overcome these tough two losses we just had."

On one long walk back to the bench for a timeout, Bryant stopped abruptly because Kenneth Faried and Corey Brewer were jubilantly body-slamming each other in midair. The Nuggets led at the time, 96-70. The fourth quarter wasn't even two minutes old.

"Obviously, it was disappointing to watch," Brown said.

Nuggets fans celebrated as the song "Going Back to Cali" played once, twice, maybe more times during fourth-quarter timeouts. Surprisingly, nobody stormed the court after the game.

Oklahoma City never seemed so far away for the Lakers, who lost a second consecutive close-out game despite Bynum's proclamation that they could be easy.

Lawson buried them with 32 points in 30 minutes, including five-for-six shooting from three-point range. Faried continued to be a nuisance down low, collecting 15 points and 11 rebounds. He's listed at 6 feet 8, four inches shorter than Bynum or Gasol.

The Nuggets led by as many as 28. The Lakers' starters looked dazed as they sat on the bench for the final minutes. Bryant stared straight ahead.

If the Lakers don't reappear Saturday, they'll be out in the first round, their mini-dynasty of back-to-back championships fading quickly into the distance.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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