Denver, CO – Ramon Sessions hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 48.1 seconds to play and the Los Angeles Lakers took a 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets in a closely contested Game 4 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Kobe Bryant posted 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Andrew Bynum added 19 points and seven boards while Pau Gasol donated 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Lakers, who hold a 3-1 advantage in this best-of-seven series after splitting the two games in Denver.
Los Angeles can now close out this series at home on Tuesday night in Game 5.
Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points and pulled down six rebounds while Andre Miller added 15 points and seven boards off the bench for the Nuggets, who got 11 points and six assists from Ty Lawson.
"It was a physical game out there tonight," said Denver head coach George Karl. "But we're just going to keep playing our game the way we have to play it."
This contest featured 18 leads changes and 16 ties, and neither team held more than a seven-point lead, but the Lakers went up for good on a big shot from Sessions.
Set up on a hard pick by Gasol on Gallinari, Sessions calmly drained a three- pointer from the right side for an 89-86 lead with 48.1 seconds showing on the clock.
Miller was then called for offensive goaltending as he tipped the ball while it sat on the rim with 40 seconds to play.
Steve Blake then essentially put the game away with a three from the left side for a 92-86 advantage with 18.9 seconds left.
"I have to give credit to a lot of our guys for stepping up at different times," said Los Angeles head coach Mike Brown. "Sessions and Blake hit two huge threes late in the game that gave us some separation."
Following a Gallinari miss, Blake came down with the rebound, but missed his two free throws. Lawson then put in a layup, but it was with 7.5 seconds left and the Lakers held on for the win.
Miller scored 10 straight points for Denver in the first quarter and the team held a four-point lead with under a minute to play, but Matt Barnes hit a layup near the buzzer to cut Los Angeles' deficit to 28-26.
Holding a one-point lead, JaVale McGee, Gallinari and Lawson all made buckets to give the Nuggets their largest lead of the game, 49-42, and the team eventually took a 51-45 advantage into the break.
A 10-2 run gave the Lakers a 61-58 lead with 4:25 to play in the third after Bynum slammed home the ball, but the Nuggets kept it close the rest of the way and took a 71-70 advantage into the fourth.
The Lakers held an 86-82 lead after Bryant drained a jumper with 3:18 left, but Gallinari followed with two free throws and later hit a long jumper to tie the game with 1:06 left before the Lakers finished it.
During play late in the second quarter, a fan walked out on to the court. Play was stopped and she was escorted off the court...Sessions and Jordan Hill each had 12 points, with Hill adding 11 rebounds. Blake posted 10 points...Both teams shot 39-for-86 from the floor, but the Lakers made 5-of-17 from three- point range while the Nuggets hit just 3-of-19...This is the sixth time these teams have met in the playoffs. The Lakers have won the previous five series.