javale mcgee

JaVale McGee went out with the attitude that Game 5 was the last game of his life. The other Denver Nuggets played their own mental games, some drawing inspiration from Lakers center Andrew Bynum’s comment about how closeout playoff games can sometimes be easy.

The Nuggets went deep into their motivational wells for an impressive win at Staples Center, and not even Kobe Bryant could prevent the Lakers from getting on a plane back to Denver.

Andre Miller scored 24 points, including two free throws with 12.8 seconds left, and Denver survived Bryant’s late scoring barrage in a 43-point performance, avoiding playoff elimination with a 102-99 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night and trimming the Lakers’ series lead to 3-2.

McGee had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Nuggets, who barely survived a frenetic finish. Denver had a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against the lifeless Lakers, but Bryant engineered a swift comeback before his final three shots missed…

Bryant scored 12 points over the final 4:45, hitting four 3-pointers that trimmed the Nuggets’ lead to 98-96 with 59 seconds left. Bryant then missed a potential tying 5-footer and a 3-pointer, but Denver missed two of four free throws before Ramon Sessions hit a 3-pointer with 12.8 seconds left, trimming the Nuggets’ lead to one point…

Arron Afflalo scored a career playoff-high 19 points and Danilo Gallinari added 14 for the Nuggets, while rookie Kenneth Faried had 10 points and nine rebounds. Miller scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and 17 in the second half, calmly leading his young teammates to the win…

Bynum had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who lost a closeout playoff game at home for the first time since May 4, 2006, against Phoenix.

– Reported by the Associated Press