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Ty Lawson leads domination of Lakers

The Nuggets guard makes 13 of 18 shots, including five of six three-pointers, in three quarters of play.

May 10, 2012|By Ben Bolch

DENVER -- The smallest player on the court stood in a scrum underneath the basket.

Andrew Bynum, the Lakers' 7-foot center, held the ball in the game's opening minute after getting his shot blocked by Denver Nuggets counterpart Timofey Mozgov.

That's when Ty Lawson, all 5 feet 11 of him, reached in and blocked another shot by Bynum.

The little guy was just starting to come up big.

Lawson's tiny handprints and footprints were all over Denver's 113-96 victory over the Lakers on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center in Game 6 of their first-round series.

As impressive as it was, his stat line of 32 points, six assists, five rebounds one block and no turnovers in only three quarters doesn't do his performance justice. Lawson batted balls, lunged for rebounds and generally made life miserable for the Lakers.

He made 13 of 18 shots, including an incredible five of six three-pointers. Not bad for someone who had made only two of 16 three-pointers in the series' first five games.

"My confidence was strong and I'm knocking down the shot," said Lawson, who had worked extensively with a shooting coach in the day before the game to get more arc on his shots.

Lawson spent the fourth quarter on the Nuggets' bench, leaning back with a towel draped over his legs. He rose in the final minutes to cheer a basket by reserve guard Julyan Stone.

His eight points in the game's first 1 minute 53 seconds powered the Nuggets' game-opening 13-0 surge, and his 13 points in the third quarter ensured his team was well on its way back to Los Angeles for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday at Staples Center.

"Ty and I always joke about our [North] Carolina careers, how he played always really big in the big games," Denver Coach George Karl said. "This was the biggest game he's probably ever played in and Saturday will be bigger."

Lawson was so hot that his heat transferred to Nuggets who remained on the court in the final quarter. Forward Corey Brewer scored Denver's first 11 points of the quarter, including a breakaway dunk that sent an already mile-high crowd into the stratosphere.

The fourth-quarter tally at that point: Brewer 11, Lakers 5.

The memorable showing was big-time payback for Lawson, who had been arguably outplayed by Lakers counterpart Ramon Sessions in the first five games of the series.

Lawson had a pair of 25-point games over that stretch but also had a pair of nine-point clunkers.

It took him only 4:16 to eclipse that scoring total Thursday, when his third three-pointer gave him 11 early points.

By halftime, Lawson had 19 points on seven-for-10 shooting.

He made all four of his three-point shots, doubling his output from the first five games of the series in a span of 24 minutes.

"That's not his strength," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said of Lawson's three-point shooting. "The tough part about it is, he was open on them and we didn't scramble [to cover]."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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