denver nuggets

denver nuggets

Game 4 round 1 Kobe / Lakers vs Nuggets 2008 Playoffs

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April 28, 2008 DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets finally gave the Los Angeles Lakers a good fight. No surrender on this night. No frustration fouls filling up the fourth quarter of another blowout. No matter. The Lakers dispatched the tempestuous Nuggets anyway. Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his 31 points over the final 5½ minutes Monday night, leading the Lakers to a 107-101 victory and a sweep of their first-round series. "He is unbelievable," Luke Walton said of Bryant, his teammates and one of the MVP favorites. "It's always so comforting knowing you have the best closer in basketball. They were making huge plays down the stretch, but Kobe came right back to do whatever it took: huge plays, steals or an incredible shots like that fadeaway over Kenyon Martin from the top of the key. He wanted it badly tonight and we followed his lead." Pau Gasol added 21 points in the Lakers' first sweep of a playoff series since whitewashing New Jersey in the 2002 NBA Finals, the last time they won it all. The Nuggets, who lost the first three games by an average of 16 points, became the first 50-victory team to ever be swept in the first round of the playoffs. The Lakers will meet the winner of the Utah-Houston series. The Jazz lead 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals. The Nuggets won 50 games this season for the first time in two decades, and they did it in the power-packed Western Conference. But they were no match for the top-seeded Lakers, who are 25-5 with Gasol in the lineup. Gasol led the way early, scoring 18 first-half points, and Bryant took over in the waning minutes, scoring nine straight points in every way -- a turnaround jumper, a 3-pointer, a driving layup and a 15-foot floater -- to give the Lakers a 97-96 lead. "It feels good to win the way that we won today," Bryant said. When Walton made a wide-open 3 from the right corner, the Lakers had a 100-96 lead with 2:37 left, and Martin and Carmelo Anthony soon fouled out. Bryant made three free throws and a jumper after that. Anthony accused his team of quitting in Game 3 and he insisted he wasn't going to let that happen Monday night. He was right. The Nuggets didn't lay down, even when they fell behind by 13 points in the first half. They stormed back to make it a seesaw game in the second half. But again, Los Angeles had the answers and sent the Nuggets to their first-ever sweep in a seven-game series. "My wish would be that we had four games like tonight and we all could have been happier," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I've said all along, when they play the right way, they're fun guys to coach." Anthony fouled out with 1:19 left and Bryant made one free throw for a 101-96 lead. After Nene's slam dunk, Bryant's running bank shot make it 103-98. Marcus Camby's first points since the series shifted to Denver came on a 3-pointer from the left corner with 33 seconds left, cutting the Lakers' lead to 103-101, but Gasol maneuvered underneath for a dunk, and Bryant added two free throws with 18 seconds left. Lamar Odom had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles and Vladimir Radmanovic scored 12 points. J.R. Smith led the Nuggets with 26 points, while Allen Iverson had 22 and Anthony 21. The Nuggets were bounced in the first round for the fifth consecutive season -- only this time, they didn't even win their customary one game, suffering their first sweep since San Antonio beat them 3-0 in 1995, when the first round was best-of-5. "That's disappointing," Anthony said. "I don't know what else to say about that. All you got to do is try to come back next year and try to start all over again." The Nuggets have great players who just don't play great together. "They have a lot of talent," Bryant said. "But a lot of times it's not necessarily the amount of talent you have on a team but it's the chemistry within that talent and how well you play together. "I'm very fortunate to be on a te...