Nuggets avoid elimination, hold off Lakers 102-99
By GREG BEACHAM
Posted May 09 2012 1:59AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) Andre Miller scored 24 points, including two free throws with 12.8 seconds left, and the Denver Nuggets survived Kobe Bryant’s late scoring barrage in a 43-point performance, avoiding playoff elimination with a 102-99 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
JaVale McGee had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Nuggets, who trimmed the Lakers’ series lead to 3-2, but only after a hair-raising finish.
Denver had a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against the lifeless Lakers, but Bryant engineered a stunning comeback before his final three shots missed. Bryant scored 12 points in the final 4:47, hitting four 3-pointers that trimmed the Nuggets’ lead to 98-96 with 59 seconds left.
“Kobe was incredible,” Denver coach George Karl said. “He scares the hell out of me every time we go up against him.”
Bryant then missed a potential tying 5-footer and a 3-pointer, but Denver missed two free throws before Ramon Sessions hit a 3-pointer with 12.8 seconds left, trimming the Nuggets’ lead to one point.
Los Angeles had two more chances to tie after the veteran Miller’s free throws, but Bryant and Sessions missed 3-pointers near the buzzer.
Game 6 is Thursday night in Denver.