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Lakers aim for commanding 3-0 lead vs. Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets hope a change of scenery can help them get back into their Western Conference quarterfinals set with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers have taken the first two games of the series in LA with Game 3 set for the Pepsi Center in the Rocky Mountains on Friday.

Kobe Bryant poured in 38 points on Tuesday to propel the Lakers to a 104-100 Game 2 victory. It was Bryant's 83rd 30-plus point playoff performance, trailing only the great Michael Jordan (109) on the NBA's all-time list.

"I thought the break was good for him," LA coach Mike Brown said of Bryant, who missed eight of the final 10 regular season games with a shin problem. "I had been playing him a lot of minutes, probably more than you want. When you have the luxury of a guy like Kobe, you might ask him to do a bit more than you'd like, so it was good for him to sit out a few games and get his body back to where it was."

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.

"The numbers say Bynum and Kobe are killing us, [but] I might vote for saying, get Gasol off the court," Denver coach George Karl said. "His decisions and feel for the game are contagious."

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 in Game 2 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.

History is not on the Nuggets' side now. The Lakers are a gaudy 42-1 all-time when leading 2-0 in a best-of-seven series.

"If you followed us all year long, every time everybody thought the worst was going to happen, it never happened," Karl said. "I believe in them [his players] and I trust in them. We're not this consistent, perfect team. We have to do some things to make our motor go, but when it goes, it's pretty good."

These two teams are meeting in the playoffs for the third time in the past five years (2008, 2009). In fact, the Nuggets and LA have met on five different occasions (1979, '85, '87, 2008, '09) with the Lakers advancing each time, most recently defeating Denver 4-2 in the '09 Western Conference finals en route to the franchise's last NBA title.

The Lakers also won the 2011-12 season series with the Nuggets 3-1 after dropping last season's series (1-2) as well as the 2009-10 series (1-3).

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series will take place on Sunday, also in Denver.