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Bryant's 41 Lifts Los Angeles Lakers over Denver Nuggets, 103-97

DENVER - MAY 23:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 23, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
John Louie RamosSenior Writer IMay 24, 2009

From Los Angeles to Cleveland and now to Denver.

The nail biting continues.

Stars will always shine on any given night thus the brightest will always bloom on the darkest hours.

The Los Angeles' trio of Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol traded clutch plays against Denver's fantastic four of Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Chris Andersen.

The Nuggets led most of the game, but when the Lakers put the pedal on the metal— there's no stopping the glamour boys of Hollywood.

With less than a minute and a half to go in regulation, the cold-blooded triggerman Bryant sank a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Smith to change the complexion of the ball game and to give the Lakers a taste of the lead, 96-95.

Moments later, Ariza delivered the dagger, stealing an inbound pass intended for Anthony.

Bryant then iced the game via the charity stripe.

Bryant, last year's MVP carried the scoring load for the Lakers with 41 markers while Ariza and Gasol added a combined 36 points and 15 rebounds.

On the Nuggets' side, Billups anchored the team with 18 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds while Smith and spark-plug Andersen added 10 and 15 points respectively.

Anthony who scored 30 plus points in his last five games was limited to 21 on a horrific night, shooting 4 of 13 from the field.

The physical, emotional, and dramatic game turned into a battle of spurts in the final period as both the Lakers and Nuggets threw everything except the kitchen sink.

With the win the Lakers jumped to a 2-1 lead over the Nuggets in the Western conference finals.

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