L, L, W, L, W, W, L. That sums up the NBA first round playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, which ended up with the Nuggets being eliminated last night in Game 7 at the Staples Center by the Lakers, 96-87. Los Angeles advances to face Oklahoma City in the second round on Monday.

Behind the all-around superior play of Pau Gasol, the lock-down defense of Metta World Peace and the clutch shooting off the bench by Steve Blake, the Lakers really didn't need Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum to be at their best in Game 7. They just needed their All-Stars to step up when it counted most. They did, as Bynum had a key tip in with 2 1/2 minutes remaining Saturday night, and Bryant sank a clutch 3-pointer about 90 seconds.

Official: Game 7 Box Score.

After the Nuggets erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit and then surged ahead by four points in the opening minutes of the fourth, the game was officially back on. Miller scored his only basket after somehow taking a defensive rebound from Gasol and putting it back in for a 3-point play with 6:51 remaining, tying the score, 78-78. Gasol then kept the ball alive on the other end with three consecutive tips before it finally fell through the rim. World Peace blocked Miller's jumper on the other end, followed by a Blake 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining, and the Nuggets would never get any closer than five the rest of the way.

Both teams finished 35-for-89 from the floor in Game 7. The Lakers have won 11 straight Game 7s at home. Bryant is 5-1 in Game 7s in his career. Both teams combined for 24 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.

[DenverNuggets.com]