ty lawson

Ty Lawson scored 25 points and the Denver Nuggets raced to an early 24-point lead on their way to a 99-84 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night in Game 3 of their first-round series.

JaVale McGee had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who will try to even the best-of-seven series at two games each on Sunday night at the Pepsi Center.

Playing with an energy and enthusiasm that had been missing in the playoffs, the Nuggets grabbed a 55-39 halftime lead by stifling Andrew Bynum down low and forcing Kobe Bryant to work harder for his baskets.

Although both Bynum and Bryant got it going after halftime and the Lakers cut their deficit to four points in the third quarter, the hole was too big to climb out of.

Bynum’s putback with 1:18 left in the third quarter not only pulled the Lakers to 68-64 but his inadvertent elbow on the play broke Al Harrington’s nose. He didn’t return, but the Nuggets went on a 12-5 run to regain their composure and control of the game.

Bryant finished with 22 points on 7-of-23 shooting after scoring 31 and 38 points in L.A.’s two wins at the Staples Center, and Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Kenneth Faried had a double-double for Denver, scoring 12 points and pulling down 15 rebounds as the Nuggets outrebounded the Lakers 55-44. Denver’s bench outscored the Lakers’ reserves 39-9.

– Reported by Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press