Final

Los Angeles wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Los Angeles wins series 4-3

Game 1: Sunday, April 29th
Nuggets88Final
Lakers103
Game 2: Tuesday, May 1st
Nuggets100Final
Lakers104
Game 3: Friday, May 4th
Lakers84Final
Nuggets99
Game 4: Sunday, May 6th
Lakers92Final
Nuggets88
Game 5: Tuesday, May 8th
Nuggets102Final
Lakers99
Game 6: Thursday, May 10th
Lakers96Final
Nuggets113
Game 7: Saturday, May 12th
Nuggets87Final
Lakers96

Nuggets 88

(38-28, 18-15 away)

Lakers 103

(41-25, 26-7 home)

    Coverage: ABC

    3:30 PM ET, April 29, 2012

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 14 26 24 2488
    LAL 27 23 27 26103

    Top Performers

    Den: A. Miller 12 Pts, 8 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl

    LAL: K. Bryant 31 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    Lakers take 1-0 lead behind Kobe Bryant's 31, Andrew Bynum's 10-block triple-double

    Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES -- A day before Andrew Bynum produced one of the most eye-popping defensive performances in NBA playoff history, he spoke up to his Lakers teammates about the importance of getting off to a good start in their championship quest.

    With an NBA record-tying 10 blocked shots, the 7-foot All-Star center put the Lakers on the good foot -- and the Denver Nuggets on their heels.

    Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, Bynum posted the Lakers' first playoff triple-double in 21 years, and Los Angeles thoroughly controlled the tempo in a playoff-opening 103-88 victory Sunday.

    Despite a few well-chronicled fluctuations in his motivation and discipline this year, the seventh-year pro had perfect focus in Game 1, capping his utter dominance in the paint with his record-tying block of Timofey Mozgov with 3:02 to play. Bynum also had 10 points and 13 rebounds before checking out to an ovation.

    "It's the only way really possible for me to get a triple-double -- through blocked shots," Bynum said of his first career triple-double. "If I play good D, we'll win games. I think I'm just going to be as aggressively as I can defensively to contest their shots. ... You've got to win Game 1. Statistics are against the teams that lose Game 1, especially on the home court."

    Game 2 is Tuesday night.

    Just how dominant were Bynum and his tall teammates against the NBA's highest-scoring team? Bynum blocked 11 percent of the Nuggets' 90 shots, and with 15 total blocks, Lakers swatted one of every six Denver shots, separating the Nuggets from any hope of a late rally.

    "His timing was impeccable today," Bryant said of Bynum. "He really understood the rhythm of their offensive players. He was just there at the exact moment, either to change or block the shot."

    While Bynum had the Lakers' first playoff triple-double since Magic Johnson in the 1991 NBA finals, fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol added 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the playoff-tested Lakers, who never trailed while forcing Denver to play Los Angeles' preferred half-court style.

    Bynum blocked eight shots in the first three quarters before surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's franchise-record nine blocks in the fourth. He eventually equaled the NBA record set by Utah's Mark Eaton on April 26, 1985, and matched by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon on April 29, 1990.

    "We've got to find a way to score before he gets in the paint, because he's impressive," said Danilo Gallinari, who led Denver with 19 points.

    For coach Mike Brown, who has mostly enjoyed his first year riding the roller coaster of Bynum's emotions and motivation, the game showed why these Lakers could go deep into June.

    "He can control a game without shooting a single shot," Brown said. "He has 10 blocks, but I'd be curious to know how many (shots) he changed. He changed a gazillion shots in the paint, and that's what Denver is very good at. He was phenomenal tonight, and if he continues to play like he did, being the type of monster he was tonight patrolling that paint, we'll be playing a long time."

    But Denver coach George Karl got a jump start on lobbying the officials for help against Bynum in Game 2.

    "(Bynum) was playing a nice illegal defense," Karl said. "He was zoned up good. I think we got one illegal defense (call against Los Angeles). I saw about 30 of them. ... The shot-blocker probably beat us."

    The sixth-seeded Nuggets won eight of 10 to reach the postseason, but most of their fears about this playoff matchup were realized. Andre Miller had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while helping out Ty Lawson, Denver's leading scorer, who managed just seven points while failing to make a shot in the first three quarters for the NBA's second-youngest playoff roster.

    Ramon Sessions had 14 points and five assists in his first career playoff game for the third-seeded Lakers, who lost last year's postseason opener to New Orleans.

    Devin Ebanks even scored 12 points in the first half while starting his first career playoff game in place of suspended Metta World Peace. The Lakers didn't miss their defensive stopper while forcing most of Denver's key contributors into poor games.

    "I don't think we were intimidated," Gallinari said. "They played their game plan better than we played our game plan. ... This first game, we were overthinking too much. One of the best things we do is just be aggressive and don't think too much."

    Bryant scored 23 points in the second half to open the 15th playoff campaign of his 16-year career. The third-leading scorer in NBA playoff history hadn't played in a week, sitting out the Lakers' last game alongside Gasol and Bynum to keep his high-mileage legs fresh.

    Sessions and Ebanks both made their playoff debuts, while Brown coached the Lakers in their first playoff game at Staples Center, which opened in 1999, without Phil Jackson commanding their bench from his oversized chair.

    Game notes


    Jordan Hill had another surprisingly strong game off the bench, contributing 10 points and 10 rebounds to the Lakers. ... Bynum blocked seven shots on June 6, 2010, in Game 2 of the NBA finals against Boston in his previous playoff high. ... The Lakers handed out white T-shirts reading "One at a Time," but in a Staples Center tradition, most of the crowd declined to wear them. ... Fans in attendance included Megan Fox, David Beckham, Meagan Good and Brian Austin Green.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    DEN
    LAL
    Points 88 103
    FGM-FGA 32-90 (.356) 43-86 (.500)
    3PM-3PA 4-14 (.286) 6-17 (.353)
    FTM-FTA 20-27 (.741) 11-15 (.733)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 16-46 11-52
    Assists 17 22
    Turnovers 10 11
    Steals 6 6
    Blocks 4 15
    Fast Break Points 19 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (1/0) 22 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 0 21

    Top Performers

    Denver
    Los Angeles
    Andre Miller Miller
    Points: 12
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 31
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0

    Research Notes

    Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his 31 points inside of 5 feet Sunday against the Nuggets. It was Bryant's most points from that range in a playoff game since scoring 14 against the Nuggets on April 23, 2008.
    The Lakers blocked 14 shots in the paint Sunday against the Nuggets. It was the most in a postseason game since the Thunder blocked 15 against the Lakers on April 20, 2010. Andrew Bynum led the way with nine of his 10 blocks coming in the paint.
    The Nuggets shot 36.7 percent (22-60) in the paint Sunday against the Lakers. It was the first time that Denver shot below 40 percent in the paint this season. During the regular season, the Nuggets shot under 50 percent in the paint nine times, the fewest in the NBA.
    From Elias: Andrew Bynum became just the 6th Laker to record a triple-double in the playoffs.
      [+]

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