Kobe Bryant poured in 38 points to propel the Los Angeles Lakers to a 104-100 Western Conference quarterfinal Game 2 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
Andrew Bynum followed up his Game 1 triple-double with a playoff career-high 27 points and Pau Gasol contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds to help the Lakers hold on in a game they never trailed.
Ramon Sessions chipped in 14 points as the Lakers went up 2-0 in the best-of- seven series.
"We're doing fine, we're playing well. We just need to continue to focus," said Bryant of his team's series lead.
Ty Lawson connected on 11-of-17 shots from the floor en route to 25 points, but Denver still lost its eighth consecutive road playoff game. Kenneth Faried scored 14 points and grabbed 10 boards while four other Nuggets scored in double figures.
"We just have to make shots. We missed a lot of open shots... we missed a lot of open threes," Lawson said.
Game 3 is set for Friday at Pepsi Center.
Sessions netted a layup to give Los Angeles a comfortable 91-77 lead at the 7:47 mark of the fourth quarter. Denver's balanced attack did not go away, however, and five players contributed points during a 14-4 run from that point forward to pull the visitors within four at 95-91.
Bryant answered by finding Bynum for a slam dunk and a foul, and Bynum completed the three-point play to give LA some breathing room.
But Danilo Gallinari buried a triple from the top of the key to keep the pressure on.
Sessions and JaVale McGee then traded baskets, and the Nuggets were forced to foul. Sessions hit his pair from the line, and although Lawson followed with a driving layup, there was just over 14 ticks on the clock.
Bryant calmly knocked down his two at the stripe to push the Lakers' edge to six once more, and they escaped with the win.
Los Angeles scored 12 of the game's first 15 points. Denver went on an 8-0 run to trim its deficit to just one a bit later, but the hosts answered with six points in a row. They led 32-25 after one.
After falling behind by eight early in the second frame, the Nuggets rallied to tie it at 36 apiece. But the hosts never surrendered the lead, and they took a 55-48 advantage into intermission.
Up 57-52 early in the third quarter, Gasol knocked down a jumper to spur a 14-0 Lakers run to open their largest lead of the night at 19 points.
Lawson personally recorded the game's next seven points, however, and the Nuggets proceeded to erase LA's run with an 18-4 flurry. They got no closer than within five, though, and trailed 81-74 entering the final stanza.
Bynum's previous playoff high in points was 21 at Dallas in 2011...Los Angeles has won 19-of-22 postseason games against the Nuggets...Faired, a rookie, had his first postseason double-double...The Lakers are 42-1 all-time when leading 2-0 in a best-of-seven series...It was Bryant's 83rd 30-plus point playoff game. He trails only Michael Jordan (109) on the NBA's all-time list.