Shannon Brown made two consecutive baskets, including an unbelievable one-handed dunk over Chris Anderson. Lamar Odom, who played a lot of point guard, followed the dunk with a 3-pointer. The Nuggets squandered a six-point lead.
Lakers 76, Nuggets 76
The Lakers were down by seven points midway through the fourth quarter, but Kobe Bryant took over the game. Bryant scored 18 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter. He made all nine of his free throw attempts, including six in the final 30 seconds. He also had the rebound on a missed free throw in the game’s waning seconds.
Trevor Ariza had the play of the night. The Lakers were nursing a two-point lead with 30 seconds left, and Phil Jackson put Ariza back in the game for his defense. Great call. Ariza stepped in front of Chauncey Billups and stole Anthony Carter’s inbounds pass. On that possession, Kobe Bryant was fouled and made both of his free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Lakers a 103-99 lead.
The quarter started with Kobe Bryant missing a long-range jumper and Andrew Bynum fouling Anthony (for his fourth foul). It didn’t get much better as the Lakers had embarrassing miscues with 8-second and 3-second violations and were booed during a turnover-happy stretch.
Nuggets lead 76-74
The Lakers came storming back even though Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum picked up their third fouls. Anthony was held in check and was assessed a technical foul. Derek Fisher made a baseline 3-pointer at the end of the half to give the Lakers the lead.
Lakers 55, Nuggets 54 halftime
Kurt Rambis confirmed an Associated Press report that he has interviewed with the Philadelphia 76ers. After he left the pre-game warmups, I asked him how his interview with Philadelphia went today. He said: “It wasn’t today.” He confirmed there was an interview but said he had no further comment as he hurried into the Lakers locker room.
Here is a score-by-quarter analysis of the Lakers’ 89-70 Game 7 victory over the Rockets and some other tidbits.