Bryant's free throws give Lakers lead

Published: Thursday | May 21, 2009


LOS ANGELES (AP):

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, including six free throws in the final 30 seconds, to lift Los Angeles to a 105-103 victory over the Nuggets in their NBA Western Conference finals opener on Tuesday, after the Lakers trailed most of the game.

Pau Gasol added 13 points and 14 rebounds and Derek Fisher had 13 points for the Lakers, who faced a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Gasol's two free throws tied the game for the last time at 99 before Bryant went to the line, offsetting a three-pointer by Chauncey Billups and a free throw by J.R. Smith.

Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points, Billups added 18 and Kenyon Martin had 15 for the Nuggets, who hadn't played since taking care of Dallas in five games last week Wednesday. Game Two is today in Los Angeles.

Time-out

"A good one, an important one," Bryant said of the win. "Like I told the guys in a time-out, this is a different series. We felt kind of down on ourselves with a slow start. ... I told them to forget about that, this is a different series."

The Lakers were back in action 48 hours after closing out Houston in seven games in the conference semi-finals.

"We just had to push through it, we didn't come out with the kind of energy we wanted, guys were fatigued, a little tired," Bryant said. "But it was a gut check for us."