The Lakers are on the verge of suffering one of their worst playoff losses in years.
Los Angeles fell 113-96 in Denver Thursday night as the Nuggets forced a Game 7 in the best-of-seven series. The Lakers once held a commanding 3-1 series lead, but now the two teams are headed back to L.A. to play an elimination game.
Kobe Bryant played 37 minutes in Game 6, despite suffering from gastroenteritis. The illness caused him to miss the team's morning shootaround. He had one of his best games of the series, scoring 31 points on 13-23 shooting.
His teammates, however, did not perform as well. Bryant said the poor play of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol was a direct result of their effort.
We didn't step up and meet [the Nuggets'] energy, Bryant told the Associated Press. They know that. I expect them to come out Game 7, and play with a sense of urgency and a sense of desperation that wasn't there the last two games.
Bynum and Gasol, the Lakers' biggest stars in addition to Bryant, were a combined 5-21 from the field. They scored just 14 points total, compared to the 36 they averaged during the regular season. Bryant said he would address the issue with the two big men. Mike Brown agreed with the guard's assessment.
Kobe being dehydrated and all that and sick as a dog, coming out and trying to will us to a win, it's disappointing to watch him give that type of effort ... and we don't get it from everybody, said the head coach. Our second- and third-best players are Drew and Pau, and the reality is both of those guys got to play better in order for us to win.
The Lakers need big performances from Bynum and Gasol if they expect to advance to the second round. Los Angeles is very thin outside of their best three players. During the regular season, they averaged a combined 64 points per game, which accounted for more than 65 percent of the team's scoring.
A loss in the first round would be the Lakers' worst postseason performance since the 2006-2007 season, when they lost to the Suns in the opening round.
A win for the Lakers would pit them against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.