May 8, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (right) is interviewed by TNT broadcaster Craig Sager after game five of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 102-99. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Playoffs: Denver Nuggets Extend Series With Game 5 Win Over Los Angeles Lakers

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

This was a statement game. Most people, including myself, had written the Denver Nuggets off and simply assumed Los Angeles would end the series tonight at home. Denver, playing the role of underdog, decided to prove that this series is still very well alive. Heading back to Denver, the Nuggets have a chance to even the series, pushing it to seven games.

The Nuggets had solid control over this game throughout. The athleticism of the Nuggets showed tonight as JaVale McGee dominated and Kenneth Faried played his heart out. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol appeared nonchalant during this game and in result, they were out-hustled by Denver’s athletes. JaVale McGee, a lean and wiry 7-footer, was able to attack the rim with his length and agility and an uninspired Andrew Bynum was unable to keep up. Additionally, Denver’s Kenneth Faried provided the energetic spark the Nuggets needed. His energy became such an obstacle that it frustrated Andrew Bynum to the point shoving of him, resulting in a technical foul on Bynum.

Frustration is what kept the Lakers down for most of this game. Shots were not falling for them and Denver would respond by scoring. For long stretches of the game, Denver was up by double digits. It was not until very late in the fourth quarter that the “Black Mamba” would awaken from slumber. Kobe Bryant showed tonight why he is great. He hit four 3-pointers in a row, followed by a Ramon Sessions 3-pointer, to rally the Lakers to within one point of the Nuggets at the peak of their run. However, Kobe’s game tying three point attempt, following Nuggets’ free throws, was off by a splinter and Sessions’ follow up three point was also no good.

The Denver Nuggets held onto a game that was almost stolen from them in Los Angeles. Now they can return home and potentially even the series and extend it to a Game 7.

Top Stars:

LAL: Kobe Bryant – 43 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists

DEN: JaVale McGee – 21 points on 9-12 from the field, 14 rebounds

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