Kobe Bryant huddled his teammates up. His team was forced to call a timeout early in the fourth quarter after a quick barrage from Corey Brewer that included two 20-foot jumpers then a layup off a steal.
Bryant was trying to pick his team up for one more rally, similar to the one that got the Lakers out of a deep hole to scare the Nuggets in Game 5.
Back on the court, his point guard Steve Blake hit a 3-pointer. Brewer answered it with one of his own, then snuck ahead of the pack on a breakaway to throw down his preferred spread-eagle slam. That gave Denver its 11th straight point and an insurmountable lead en route to a 113-96 win. It also helped the Nuggets force a Game 7 on Saturday night in L.A.
“It was really fun,” Brewer told The Associated Press. “The crowd was into the game and we were playing well.”
The Nuggets went up by as many as 28 in the game, but Brewer — wearing a Band-Aid under his eye after needing stitches following Game 5 — had the final flurry that has the Lakers in need of stitching.
After the game, Denver coach George Karl said he was happy to see Brewer finish strong because he felt bad that he didn’t play him more earlier. Brewer scored six straight points for the team in a span of 3:33 that started late in the first and into the second quarter. Nonetheless, the fifth-year small forward’s effort in the fourth quarter was “a great gift” to his coach. Brewer finished with 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in just 19 minutes of play while living up to Karl’s label as the “energizer, offensively and defensively” for the Nuggets and the 19,770 in the Pepsi Center. He was outscoring the Lakers’ bench on his own until the scrubs entered to finish the game.
Brewer has managed to find his niche in Denver’s deep rotation, which the team has relished since trading star Carmelo Anthony away to the Knicks. The Nuggets’ bench is one of their only advantages, but it’s giving thin and sluggish L.A. fits. It looked like every Laker other than the flu-stricken Bryant needed an IV last night to keep up with Karl’s uptempo offense, which came into the playoffs as the highest-scoring unit in the NBA (104.1 points per game). Everybody on the Nuggets recognizes Brewer as a pivotal piece of that scheme while also serving as one of the team’s best defenders.
“Corey’s defensive instincts, he’s helped us win a lot of games this year,” Karl said. “I love him. I think he’s a great weapon off the bench.”
Now the series shifts to Staples with Denver looking to make a little history. Only eight teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. The last team do it was the Phoenix Suns against none other than the Lakers in 2006.
A win in Game 7 would also rival the franchise’s biggest playoff win when Dikembe Mutombo and Co. ousted the top-seeded Sonics to become the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1.
The Celtics eliminated the Hawks in a hard-fought 83-80 victory last night to win the series 4-2. Horford scored 11 of the team’s 17 points in the fourth quarter but after getting hacked while going up for what would’ve been an easy dunk, he missed one out of two from the charity stripe with two seconds left. That left Atlanta down one, and Paul Pierce made both of his ensuing free throws to seal the win.
Horford finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block while getting the most playing time on the team (46 minutes).
Speights and the Grizzlies are also looking to rally from 3-1 back and force a Game 7 with a win tonight against the Clippers in L.A. Speights is averaging 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a game in 15.6 minutes per game in the series.