Ty Lawson scored 32 points, fellow spark plug Corey Brewer added 18 and the free-wheeling, too-young-to-scare Nuggets forced a Game 7 in their first-round playoff series with a dominating 113-96 win Thursday night.
"This is the biggest game he's ever played in, and Saturday will be even bigger," Nuggets coach George Karl said of Lawson, whose 32 points were a career playoff high.
The decisive game is Saturday night at Staples Center, Denver's first all-or-nothing showdown since losing to Utah in Game 7 of the 1994 Western Conference semifinals. But it would be a mistake to think the young team will cave under the pressure of a win-or-go-home scenario.
MIAMI -- The final horn sounded, and LeBron James wrapped his arms around
James had 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Chris Bosh andDwyane Wade both scored 19 points and the Heat ousted the short-handed Knicks 106-94 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Wednesday night.
The Heat won the series 4-1, and will meet Indiana in the East semifinals starting Sunday in Miami.
"We do not take this for granted," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "This was a tough series. We feel very good about moving on and it'll only get tougher from here."
For the Heat, it was only the first step. The reigning East champions have one goal -- getting back to the finals and winning it all -- and that was likely why even beating the franchise's longtime rival prompted, at most, a subdued celebration.
LOS ANGELES -- The Denver Nuggets plastered Andrew Bynum's words all over their locker room and across their minds, drawing fiery inspiration from the Lakers center's declaration that close-out playoff games are sometimes easy when an opponent quits.
The young Nuggets rode that emotion to a big lead and a landmark victory -- only after Kobe Bryant reminded them that almost nothing comes easily for anybody in the NBA playoffs.
Andre Miller scored 24 points, including two free throws with 12.8 seconds left, and Denver survived Bryant's late scoring barrage in a 43-point performance, avoiding playoff elimination with a 102-99 victory over Los Angeles in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The third-seeded Lakers are one win from a second-round date with Oklahoma City, but the Nuggets forced Los Angeles to board a plane for Denver on Wednesday. Coach George Karl gratefully fed Bynum's offhanded post-practice comment to his players, and they played like a team that isn't going anywhere.