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Nuggets 99, Lakers 84

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Ty Lawson scored 25 points and had seven assists, JaVale McGee had 16 points and 15 rebounds off the bench, and the Denver Nuggets held serve at home, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 99-84 in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series Friday night.

The Lakers lead the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Sunday night.

Kenneth Faried had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who had six players score in double figures.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 22 points, and Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Denver led by as many as 24 points in the first half but saw the Lakers cut it to 68-64 late in the third quarter on the strength of Bynum's scoring. The Nuggets settled down to take a 72-65 lead into the fourth.

A dunk by Faried and a layup by Andre Miller pushed Denver's advantage to 80-69 with 8:58 left. The lead stayed around 10 for the next six minutes before a free throw by Bryant cut it to 86-79 with 2:31 left.

Faried hit a foul-line jumper on Denver's next possession to give the Nuggets an 88-79 edge, and the Lakers didn't get within seven down the stretch.

The Nuggets played the fourth quarter without forward Al Harrington, who suffered a fractured nose late in the third quarter.

The Lakers trailed by 16 at halftime but quickly cut into the deficit in the third. They scored the first six points to cut it to 10, and after Lawson's driving layup put Denver up 67-55, they went on a 9-1 run to get within five. Bynum, who had been held scoreless in the first half, scored 12 points in the third and fed Pau Gasol for a dunk that began Los Angeles' run.

In the early going, with the Nuggets down 12-10, Lawson took over. The third-year guard attacked the basket against the bigger Lakers and ignited a 9-0 run to give Denver the lead.

After Bryant's jumper ended the run, Denver closed out the first quarter strong. Lawson scored nine points in the Nuggets' 11-0 spurt that gave them a 30-14 lead heading into the second.

The Nuggets weren't done. They scored the first eight points of the second quarter to extend the run to 19-0 before Matt Barnes hit a 3 from the corner to end the Lakers' drought.

Lawson answered with another 3 to make 41-17 with 9:59 left.

Bryant scored eight points to spark a 17-4 run by the Lakers that got them within 11, but Denver closed out the half outscoring Los Angeles 10-5 to take a 55-39 lead into the locker room.

NOTES: The Nuggets shook up their starting lineup. Kosta Koufas moved to the bench and Timofey Mozgov got the start at center. ... The Lakers entered Friday with a 19-4 playoff record against Denver. This is the seventh time the teams have met in the playoffs, the fifth time in the first round. ... Danilo Gallinari's layup with 8:07 left in the first quarter gave Denver a 7-6 lead, its first lead in the series.
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