Nuggets Vs. Lakers, 2012 NBA Playoffs: L.A. Leads Game 7, 48-42, Over Denver

The Los Angeles Lakers allowed a 3-1 series lead in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs against the Denver Nuggets to slip away and turn into a Game 7 thanks largely to lukewarm play from Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the past two games. In the first half of Game 7, Gasol has exploded to the tune of 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists to help the Lakers to a 48-42 lead, including a tip-in right before the horn at the end of the second quarter.

With the exception of Gasol's exceptional play, the biggest presence on the Lakers has arguable been the absence of any aggression from Kobe Bryant. The league' best shooting guard has played passively and has been largely invisible, finishing the first half with seven points on eight shots. Thanks to Gasol, he doesn't have to be a superhero, and it may be that playing so well with illness in Game 6 is affecting him here.

The Nuggets have climbed back into this series because of poor play with Lakers big men. Now that Gasol is active and engaged, Kenneth Faried got into foul trouble and Al Harrington got his nose busted and the Nuggets' frontline is clearly no match for what the Lakers are throwing. Ty Lawson has been a bright spot (11 points, three assists), but the Nugs need a bright spot that's taller than 6 feet to win this game.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs and SB Nation Denver.

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