Down 2-0 in the series, the Nuggets had their backs to the wall; they came out and made a statement.
Down the stretch of a fairly close game, rookie Kenneth Faried hit the 18-foot jumper to put the Nuggets up 88-79 with 2:15 left and put the game away.
Faried and JaVale McGee combined for 28 points and 29 rebounds, as the Denver big men dominated the Lakers big two of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol all night long.
When the clock read zeros the Nuggets won, 99-84, and the series was closed to 2-1.
Early on, Ty Lawson was determined to take over the game, and that's exactly what he did in the first quarter. Lawson took the ball to the hoop with his speed and quickness, kissing it off the glass multiple times for 13 points in the period. The Nuggets point guard scored 12 of the last 13 points in the period for Denver and the home team led 30-14 to end the first.
The pace of the game was obviously in Denver's favor early, as they went on a 28-2 run to take the 38-14 lead by grabbing every missed Lakers shot, running the break and finally knocking down open threes, something they hadn't done all series up to that point.
This was Nuggets basketball.
High octane, run and gun fun. Players streaking down court, sharing the basketball and scoring with ease.
Of course, the Lakers wouldn't just roll over, they went on a 9-0 run themselves and brought the game to a 12-point difference at 43-31. Los Angeles slowed the tempo of the game down, playing much more to their strength, executing to perfection.
But the Nuggets bounced back and finished off the half strong to lead 55-39 as Kenneth Faried grabbed 10 boards while JaVale McGee recorded a near double-double with eight points and nine rebounds in the half. The two out-rebounded the entire Lakers team, 19-18, at the break as Denver was dedicated to boarding the ball while Lawson led all scorers with 18.
The Nuggets went ice cold to start the second half, missing their first seven field goals and letting the Lakers back into the contest.
The pace certainly slowed, and the Nuggets lead shrank to seven at 72-65 at the end of the third.
Denver turned it back on in the early fourth, though, and they controlled the rest of the game to cruise to victory.
The Manimal finished with 12 points and 18 rebounds while McGee put up 16 and 15.
“I'm just really excited about it,” McGee said in an ESPN interview after the win. “We played hard, we ran the floor and the fans really helped us out.”
Now the Nuggets look to Game 4 and to even the series up at two wins apiece.
Denver will have to do just that to give themselves a chance to best the Lakers and Game 4 tips off Sunday at 7:30 MT on ESPN.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being your Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist, Rich is the Denver Broncos and CSU Rams Examiner and Kurtzman also writes for Blake Street Bulletin, Stadium Journey and Mile High Hoops.
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