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Lakers head home with 3-1 lead

DENVER, Colorado, May 7- Ramon Sessions nailed the go-ahead three-point shot with 48 seconds left to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets in game four of their first round NBA playoff series.

Kobe Bryant finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Andrew Bynum scored 19 points and Pau Gasol had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who seized a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Steve Blake scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s contest. He also hit a key three pointer in the final minute for Los Angeles at the Pepsi Center arena.

“I have to give credit to a lot of our guys for stepping up at different times,” said Los Angeles head coach Mike Brown. “Sessions and Blake hit two huge threes late in the game that gave us some separation.”

Danilo Gallinari had 20 points while Andre Miller came off the bench to record 15 points and seven rebounds for Denver, who have lost all five previous playoff series to the Lakers.

“There is always luck in basketball and we didn’t get much luck today,” said Nuggets coach George Karl.

The Lakers can advance to the second round with a victory in game five on Tuesday at home.

There were 18 lead changes in Sunday’s game as neither team held more than a seven-point lead. The Lakers took the lead for good on a crucial three-point shot from Sessions.

Blake then clinched the win with a three from the left side to give the Lakers a 92-86 cushion with 18 seconds left.

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“I was able to knock them down tonight,” said Blake. “This was fun. This is what it is all about, playoff basketball.”

History is on the Lakers side as Los Angeles is 42-1 overall when winning the opening two games of a playoff series which they did against the Nuggets.

The two teams are meeting in the postseason for the third time in the past five years. The most recent was in 2009 when the Lakers beat Denver four games to two.

Sunday’s contest was interrupted briefly in the second quarter when a female fan wandered onto the court while the Nuggets had the ball.

The officials quickly stopped the game and the woman was immediately escorted off the floor by security and into the area under the stands.

The Western Conference playoffs continue Monday with the San Antonio Spurs looking to sweep the Utah Jazz in four straight.

Results from the first round of the NBA playoffs (all series best-of-seven):

Eastern Conference

at Philadelphia

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Philadelphia 89, Chicago 82

(Philadelphia lead series 3-1)

at New York

New York 89 Miami 87

(Miami lead series 3-1)

at Boston

Boston 101 Atlanta 79

(Boston lead series 3-1)

Western Conference

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at Denver

Los Angeles 92 Denver 88

(Los Angeles lead series 3-1)

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