SPORTS> North America
Lakers snap Nuggets home win streak
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-25 10:59

DENVER, Colorado: Kobe Bryant scored 41 points and made 15 of 17 free throws as Los Angeles beat Denver 103-97, snapping the Nuggets' 16th straight win at home and taking a 2-1 playoff series lead.

Lakers snap Nuggets home win streak
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (C) drives past Denver Nuggets' Kenyon Martin (L) during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals basketball game in Denver May 23, 2009. [Agencies] 
Lakers snap Nuggets home win streak

Bryant hit a key three pointer which gave the Los Angeles a one-point lead with just over a minute remaining in game three of the Western Conference final.

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Bryant's three pointer wasn't quite as dramatic as LeBron James' buzzer beater on Friday to give Cleveland a 96-5 win but it did the trick for the Lakers.

"I sent him a text and told him it was a hell of a shot," Bryant said. "We are all friends. He does what he does in Cleveland and I do what I do here."

What Bryant did Saturday was post his second 40-plus point game of this series. Pau Gasol added 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Trevor Ariza scored 16 for Los Angeles who took back home court advantage.

Saturday's loss was Denver's first at home since March 9. Carmelo Anthony scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half for Denver.

"For the most part we were winning the game," said Anthony, who fouled out in the final minute. "The rebounds were even, the assists were even. Gasol was the key for them tonight."

The Nuggets led for the majority of the game before allowing the Lakers to take control late.

Ariza stole a Kenyon Martin inbounds pass and then was fouled by Anthony with 36 seconds remaining. Ariza sank both foul shots to give the Lakers a 99-95 lead.

"It was deja vu of game one. He (Ariza) made a great play," Anthony said.

Despite a booking blunder, the Nuggets will get to host game four at the Pepsi Center arena. Denver doubled booked their arena and had to work out last-minute deal with an American professional wrestling tour to allow the NBA game to go ahead.

The World Wrestling Entertainment moved their event to Los Angeles' Staples Center arena as a compromise.

Chauncey Billups had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Nuggets who are playing in their first conference final home game in two dozen years.

"You got to have a short memory," Billups said.

Denver shot just five-of-22 from the field in the final 12 minutes.


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