Lawson lifts Nuggets over Lakers in Game 3

Ty Lawson scored 25 points on Friday and the Nuggets rode a strong start to a 99-84 win over the Lakers in Game 3 of a Western Conference quarterfinal matchup.

Denver had never led in the series entering Friday, but jumped out to a 16- point advantage in the first quarter and Los Angeles never fully recovered.

"Every game we played the Lakers we were down. We were down early, we were down big," Lawson said. "...We made a point that we wanted to come out early and see how they did with a deficit."

JaVale McGee added 16 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for the Nuggets, who lost forward Al Harrington to a fractured nose in the third quarter. Danilo Gallinari and Andre Miller both scored 13 and Kenneth Faried finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Andrew Bynum scored 18 points -- all in the second half -- and grabbed 12 points for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant scored 18 points on 7-of-23 shooting.

"They executed extremely well, they played with a lot of intensity. And for us, it was a good learning experience for some of our young guys," Bryant said.

Game 4 is set for Sunday in Denver.

Lawson was instrumental to the fast start. He scored 13 points during Denver's 18-2 run to close the first. His final bucket of the quarter came in transition, when he made a layup, drew a foul and sunk the free throw for a 30-14 lead heading into the second.

There Denver grabbed its largest lead of the game -- 24 points -- when McGee opened with a layup and Harrington followed with a three-pointer, but the Lakers managed to methodically reduce their deficit as the game continued.

Bryant scored eight points in the second quarter and Los Angeles trailed 55-39 by halftime.

Bynum awoke after a scoreless first half, scoring 12 points in the third and helping cut the deficit to 67-62 with a pair of three-point plays late in the quarter.

The Lakers hung around but never pulled even and Faried scored six points in the fourth quarter, including a ferocious two-handed dunk in the closing minutes which put an exclamation mark on the much-needed win.

Game Notes

Bryant had three points in the fourth quarter on 1-of-4 shooting...The Lakers are 42-1 all-time when leading 2-0 in a best-of-seven series.