ESPN: Kobe Bryant offered himself up as bait and the Denver Nuggets bit. That freed up Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol on the inside, where the Lakers’ big men dominated.
With Bryant luring double coverage then passing to his teammates, the Lakers owned the fourth quarter in a 103-94 victory Wednesday night that gave them a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Bryant scored 22 points — on just 13 shots — Odom had 19 points and 14 rebounds despite an aching lower back and Gasol added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was a big gamble for me coming in, but I wanted to change my approach this game and be more of a decoy,” Bryant said after adding eight assists, several out of double-teams in the fourth quarter. “The past couple games they really were loading to my side and I figured I could be a decoy and try to give chances to my teammates.”
Game 6 is Friday in Denver, where the Lakers lost Game 4 by 19 points.
“That place is going to be rocking and rolling,” Bryant said. “We have to stay focused and poised and try to cut them up. Be cold-blooded, go out there and execute.”