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Kobe Bryant Drop's 41 in Los Angeles Lakers Win Over Denver Nuggets,103-97

DENVER - MAY 23:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball in front of Dahntay Jones #30 of the Denver Nuggets in the third quarter of 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 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jeff LittleSenior Writer IMay 24, 2009

Kobe Bryant knocked down a huge fourth quarter 24-foot three point shot over J.R. Smith to give the Lakers a 96-95 lead and five clutch free throws to seal the win.

Game three was another nail biter that went down to the wire. The Lakers started off to a sluggish start but stayed close. The Nuggets took the lead early in the first quarter and held onto said lead, the score at the end of the quarter was 28-26 Denver.

Carmelo Anthony got off to a fast start for the third straight game he scored 21 points prior to fouling out 18 of which were scored in the first half. The Nuggets received a huge lift from Chris Anderson and J.R.Smith who combined for 25 points off the bench.

The Nuggets opened the second quarter with an 8-3 scoring run to increase their lead; the Lakers continued to hang around.

The score was 39-all when both teams closed the quarter with scoring runs; this run was 12-8 in favor of the Nuggets. The score at halftime was 52-48 Denver.

The Lakers 13 missed free throws, bad defensive rotations and not boxing out the Nuggets front line were some of the main reasons the team was facing a deficit at the end of the first half.

The Lakers and Nuggets continued to battle in the third quarter and took an eight point lead at the end of the quarter on a J.R. Smith three pointer.

The game statistics won't show this but Luke Walton played a solid game and had an excellent third quarter defensively on Carmelo Anthony.

Emotions got the best of him as he got in the face of Sasha Vujacic; who defended him on the shot, and started barking at him. He was called for a technical foul for taunting the score at the end of third quarter was 79-71 Denver.

The fourth quarter started with Kobe Bryant knocking down the technical free throw. The teams slugged it out toe-to-toe throughout the quarter, the lead changed hands multiple times but the Lakers defense improved and the team executed in the fourth quarter.

Once again Trevor Ariza made an important steal late in the game.

The Lakers fueled by a 21-12 run the Lakers outscored the Nuggets 32-18 in the quarter to earn a 2-1 series lead. 

Carmelo Anthony & Kenyon Martin both fouled out of the game. Kobe Bryant scored 13 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter which topped his own Lakers’ record for points scored in the first three games of a conference final with 113; the previous record was 109. This was a heart breaking loss for the Denver Nuggets; it also snapped their 16-game home win streak.

The win was also the Lakers seventh straight road playoff win against the Nuggets which ties an NBA record for consecutive road wins against a single opponent.

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