Lakers pushed to Game 7 after blowout loss to Nuggets

DENVER – Andrew Bynum went up for a layup in the opening seconds of Game 6 and Timofey Mozgov blocked it. Bynum grabbed the ball and tried it again and Ty Lawson blocked it. Bynum rebounded again and then missed a hook shot.

Uh-oh. one of those nights?

Yep.

It only got worse for the Lakers, who dropped a 113-96 clunker into the hands of the eager and energetic Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at Pepsi Center. the Lakers and Nuggets are tied at three games apiece in the Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Game 7 is Saturday night at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant played despite coming down with a stomach ailment that kept him from participating in the team’s morning shootaround, and given what happened in the game, maybe he should have stayed home and rested for Saturday.

Bryant scored 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting in the first half, and he was the least of their worries after a brutal start that brought to mind their no-show at the start of their Game 3 loss, when they trailed by 24 points in the second quarter.

Bryant wouldn’t let the Lakers fall that far behind this time.

Not in the first half, anyway.

The Nuggets took a commanding 90-68 lead into the fourth quarter.

While the rest of the Lakers struggled to find their game in their second attempt to close-out the Nuggets in the best-of-7 series, Bryant shook off a miserable morning and afternoon and tried to carry his teammates to the finish line.

Weakened by gastroenteritis, Bryant went to work as if nothing was wrong. but his first two shots missed the mark and he reached for the ball on defense several times instead of moving his feet to stay up with the offensive player.

Bryant finished with 31 points on 13-for-23 shooting with four rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes, unable to beat the Nuggets by himself. Bynum scored 11 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and Pau Gasol had three points on 1-for-10 shooting.

Lawson, Denver’s speedy point guard, scored 32 points on sizzling 13-for-18 shooting, including 5 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Lawson had 19 points in the first half on 7-for-10 shooting, including 4of4 on 3-pointers.

The Lakers had no answer for the Nuggets’ superb play or their own ineptitude. Denver broke open the game by outscoring the Lakers 36-23 in the third quarter, turning a close game into a runaway heading into the fourth.

Bryant took a seat for good with 7:52 remaining in the fourth.

The Lakers survived the Nuggets’ early onslaught, staying within striking distance going into the second half. Denver extended a 54-45 halftime lead to 63-45 only 2 minutes, 46seconds into the third quarter, however.

Bryant narrowly avoided an ejection when he was ruled to have committed a flagrant-1 foul on a driving Kenneth Faried only minutes into the second half. Bryant struck Faried in the head and Faried crash-landed on the court.

A flagrant-2 foul carries an automatic ejection.

Bryant’s foul on Faried served to fire up an already overwrought crowd at Pepsi Center. After winning the first two games of the series at Staples Center and taking Game 4 in Denver for a 3-1 series lead, the Lakers gave the underdogs and their fans hope.

The Lakers squandered a chance in Game 5 to eliminate the Nuggets and advance to the next round to face Oklahoma City. In many respects, the Lakers have been their own worst enemy at times in the series.

Games 3 and 5 featured disastrous starts, for instance.

Help could be on the way, however.

Small forward Metta World Peace served the final game of his seven-game suspension for elbowing James Harden of the Thunder in the head during the Lakers’ double-overtime win April 22 at Staples Center.

World Peace (the former Ron Artest) has been practicing with his teammates during his suspension, but he has been banned from the arena for games. his defensive skills and energetic play have been missed during the series.

Devin Ebanks started the past seven games in place of World Peace, with Matt Barnes serving as his backup. but neither player delivered as needed in the veteran’s absence. Barnes started the second half Thursday in place of an ineffective Ebanks.

elliott.teaford@dailybreeze.com

twitter.com/ElliottTeaford

Lakers pushed to Game 7 after blowout loss to Nuggets


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