Posted April 14, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Los Angeles Lakers
Andrew Bynum had 30 points and eight rebounds, Matt Barnes added a season-high 24 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched a playoff berth without Kobe Bryant or coach Mike Brown, holding off the Denver Nuggets 103-97 Friday night.
Pau Gasol had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacific Division-leading Lakers (38-22), who have won three of four without Bryant. The NBA scoring leader is resting his bruised shin.
Los Angeles also played without Brown, who left Staples Center shortly before tipoff for undisclosed personal reasons. Assistant coach John Kuester ran the team.
Barnes played an enormous game in a reserve role while matching his highest-scoring performance in two seasons with the Lakers. He scored six consecutive points after Denver trimmed Los Angeles' lead to one point, hitting a 3-pointer and adding a clutch jumper with 1:29 to play.
Andre Miller scored 20 points and Al Harrington added 18 for the Nuggets, who had won five of seven. Arron Afflalo also had 18 for Denver, which is hanging on to a playoff spot.
Los Angeles led for all but the opening minutes, going up 87-75 with 9:25 left. Denver trimmed the lead to one point with a 15-4 run capped by Harrington's 3-pointer with 3:38 left, but Barnes hit a clutch 3-pointer and added a free throw and a jumper before throwing a phenomenal half-court alley-oop to Bynum in the final minute.
Despite committing 23 turnovers, the Lakers took three of four from Denver to win the season series after the Nuggets took it in each of the past two years. With six games left, Los Angeles is 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers for the division lead and the No. 3 playoff seed.
Kuester filled in when Brown left Staples Center after his regular media briefing about 75 minutes before game time. Bryant also moved up next to the assistant coaches, yelling out advice and strategy.
Bryant is no longer wearing a protective boot. The fifth-leading scorer in NBA history is walking without pain, but must run and jump without pain before he'll return.
Bryant has built a career on playing through any amount of pain, but with the Lakers comfortably in the playoff picture, he apparently feels he can take a brief rest from the compacted regular season. Brown wouldn't speculate on how long Bryant will sit, saying they'll re-evaluate his injury before Sunday's game against the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
Bryant hadn't missed a game all season before his current week off, and he has missed just 99 games in his 16 NBA seasons. He is closing in on his third scoring title with 28.1 points per game, slightly ahead of Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who won the last two scoring crowns.
The Lakers started well without Bryant, picking up from their emphatic road win over San Antonio by jumping to a 14-point lead in the first quarter. Barnes scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first half, including a rainbow jumper at the buzzer.
Denver kept it close with relentless attention to Bynum, who had 30 rebounds against the Spurs.
NOTES: The Lakers have missed the playoffs just five times in their 64 years of existence, just twice in 33 years under owner Jerry Buss. ... Wilson Chandler missed his seventh straight game for Denver with a strained left hip, while Rudy Fernandez is still sidelined with a strained lower back. ... Kuester also coached the Lakers in February while Brown served a one-game suspension. Kuester was the Detroit Pistons' head coach for the past two seasons before getting fired last June. ... Barnes got a technical foul with 2:24 left for arguing a call, but Afflalo missed a free throw that would have cut the Lakers' lead to three points with the ball.
BEST OF MAXIM
Lakers Coach Mike Brown and center Andrew Bynum have had some, uh, entertaining moments in their first season together.
Bynum hated it when Brown kissed him on the forehead after a late tip-in during a victory over Boston. Bynum also didn't like being yanked for his well-documented three-point attempt last month against Golden State.
But Brown said they were fine.
As he ran up and down the court, Andrew Bynum took deep breaths.
It had little to do with the normal fatigue that surrounds a typical basketball game. It had everything to do with fighting an upper respiratory infection he suffered the night before the Lakers' 112-108 overtime victory Sunday over the Dallas Mavericks.
"It was just hard to breathe," said Bynum, who...
Kobe Bryant missed his fifth consecutive game Sunday but hinted about his return from a sore left shin, telling ABC sideline reporter Heather Cox he would "definitely" play before the end of the regular season.
Bryant spoke briefly to Cox at the Lakers' game against the Dallas Mavericks about his shin, saying he would be back "well before playoffs."
Andrew Bynum had the most epic of games Wednesday night when he snatched 30 boards, but here is something else that was pretty epic in its own right: ANDREW TRIED TO STEAL THE BALL FROM HIS TEAMMATE TO SHOOT A THREE-BALL!?!?!?!?!?!? I can’t even translate how hard my soul is laughing right now. With 15 [...]
Andrew Bynum has epitomized the word “Diva” as of late with his antics. Last night, in a decisive win over the Spurs, he turned heads due to his 30 rebound performance as well as his cursing on TV after the game. The real story, in my opinion, is what Bynum did at the end of [...]
Kobe Bryant is sitting out his fifth straight game to rest his bruised shin.
Lakers coach Mike Brown confirmed early Sunday that Bryant will miss just the 100th game of his 16-year NBA career when they host the Dallas Mavericks.
The NBA scoring leader hasn't played since April 6 for the Lakers, who began the day leading the Clippers atop the Pacific Division by one game with...
Kobe Bryant has missed five straight games with a bruised left shin.
Before tonight's game, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker said he hoped Kobe Bryant would play in the Spurs' first meeting of the season against the Lakers.
Perhaps it would've been better for the Spurs if the NBA's leading scorer had left his purple suit in the visitor's locker room and suited up in purple and gold.
Without Bryant, the Lakers focused on mismatches...
The Lakers are in the playoffs. What else is new?
With their 103-97 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, the Lakers clinched a playoff berth -- their 59th such achievement in 64 seasons of the club's existence.
That's a successful franchise for you.
And another impressive statistic has developed: The Lakers are 3-1 without Kobe Bryant this season.
On the day Kobe Bryant, an erstwhile iron horse, sat out his fourth consecutive game with an injured shin, Dwight Howard traveled across the country to have a specialist inform him that it is a bulging disc that has left his back aching and Derrick Rose, in and out of the lineup all season with injuries, awoke to the realization that the Bulls were better off with him on the bench...