Bryant leads Lakers past Nuggets, back to finals

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant had 35 points and 10 assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers back to the NBA finals with a 119-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Friday night. Bryant got plenty of scoring help from Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom as the Lakers shot 57.3 percent from the field to avoid having to play a Game 7 back at the Staples Center. notes: The Lakers outscored the Nuggets by 5 in the first quarter, 8 in the second, 3 in the third and 11 in the fourth. Los Angeles shot 57.3% for the game, Denver 43.8%. Both teams were hot from three-point range, but the Lakers were awesome, nailing 9-of-16 from outside the arc. Trevor Ariza had three of those 3-pointers.

For the Lakers, Bryant had 35 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists (just 1 turnover). Pau Gasol (8-of-12) had 20 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Lamar Odom had 20 points and 8 rebounds. Trevor Ariza (awesome 7-of-9) scored 17. And Luke Walton (5-of-7) scored 10.

The Lakers hit a perfect 24-of-24 free throws, and outrebounded the Nuggets 38-27.

For the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony (6-of-17, 12-of-15 free throws) had 25 points but little else. J.R. Smith (10-of-17, 4-of-9 threes) had 24 and little else. Kenyon Martin had a quiet 13 points and 5 rebounds. Chauncey Billups got shut down, shooting just 2-of-9 for 10 points and 9 assists (but 5 turnovers). Dahntay Jones, Nene and Chris Andersen did little, though the Birdman blocked 3 shots.

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