(LOS ANGELES) — The Denver Nuggets fended off a late charge led by Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and edged the Lakers 102-99, avoiding elimination and trimming the series deficit to 3-2.
The Nuggets led by 15 points with under 6:30 to play in the game, but Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his game-high 43 points in the fourth quarter, trimming Denvers’ lead to one with 14 seconds to go in the game.
“I wouldn’t say the energy kicked in in the fourth quarter,” Bryant said. “I almost bailed us out, is what happened. That’s something you can’t rely on if you’re going to win a championship.”
Lakers center Andrew Bynum made some noise when he commented that close-out playoff games can be easy when an opponent quits. Those comments were used to motivate the Nuggets and it worked.
“I’ve been blessed to win a few series, and it’s the hardest thing in the world to win the fourth game,” Karl said. “I don’t care who you’re playing, it’s hard. …His feeling on close-outs is a little different than mine.”
JaVale McGee scored 21 points and grabbed 14 boards in the win.
Game 6 is Thursday night at 10:30 PM ET in Denver.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jill Martin, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire