LA Lakers Defeat Denver Nuggets in Game 4 for 3-1 Series Lead

May 7, 2012

After struggling to score from beyond the arc the entire game, the Los Angeles Lakers shot their way to a 92-88 Game 4 victory over the Denver Nuggets thanks to consecutive clutch three-pointers by Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake.

With just about a minute to play, Kobe Bryant found Sessions on the right wing to put the Lakers up 89-86. After an offensive interference call on the Nuggets on the next posession, Kobe again passed the ball with the shot clock winding down, this time to a wide open Blake who connected from deep to put the Lakers up 92-86.

The basket was Blake’s second three-pointer of the game, with both coming at crucial moments in the fourth quarter. His first occurred in the opening minutes of the fourth with most of Los Angeles’ starters resting.

Closing duties are normally assigned to Bryant, but this time the Lakers bench finally delivered. After scoring an abysmal 9 points in Game 3, the Lakers bench rattled off 26, including 10 from Jordan Hill.

Denver, meanwhile, was in control for most of the game. The first half was particularly strong for the Nuggets, as they scored 15 points off seven Laker turnovers. Danilo Gallinari had 12 points in the half on 6 of 11 shooting, while Andre Miller came out on fire, making his first five attempts.

Defensively, the Nuggets effectively double-teamed Andrew Bynum down low, forcing three turnovers and holding Los Angeles to 44% shooting for the half. The Nuggets also were able to pace the game their way, ending the half on a 15-6 run.

The second half was more tightly contested, with both teams trading the lead over a dozen times. Players on both ends looked exhausted, but the slower pace favored the Lakers, who took advantage of the inside presence of Andrew Bynum and Jordan Hill.

The 11-rebound effort from Hill was a major factor in holding off the Nuggets’ speedy transition play. At around the seven minute mark of the third, Hill threw down a dunk over Kenneth Faried following a Steve Blake missed three-pointer, one of several key plays from the Lakers that helped build momentum going down the stretch.

The win was crucial for the Lakers, who now head home with hopes of wrapping up the series at the Staples Center. With Oklahoma City already awaiting the winner, it is essential that the Lakers get as much rest as possible before heading into the Western Conference semifinals.

Denver, on the other hand, is now in desperation mode.

George Karl has done a good job containing Bynum after the first two games, but he still has no real answer for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Gasol has been quietly effective in a lesser role, while Kobe has continued to make key shots when the Lakers need them most.

The Nuggets also have been struggling from the three-point line during the series, making only 3 out of 19 treys in Game 4.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

By Jake Vitanza
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald

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