Lakers, minus Kobe, clinch playoff berth
Los Angeles, CA – With Kobe Bryant sidelined for a fourth consecutive game, Matt Barnes provided a spark off the bench by scoring a season-high 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched a playoff spot with in a 103-97 victory over the Nuggets.
Andrew Bynum netted a game-high 30 points and Pau Gasol contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win, Los Angeles' third in a row and seventh in nine tries.
Andre Miller paced Denver with 20 points while Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo donated 18 apiece in a losing effort. The Nuggets, who saw a two-game winning streak snapped, are tied with Houston for seventh in the Western Conference. Ninth-place Phoenix is just a game back and Utah is lurking 1 1/2 games behind.
Denver's next two games are against the Rockets, Sunday and Monday.