Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 38 points as the Los Angeles Lakers held off a late fightback by the Denver Nuggets to win 104-100 on Tuesday and take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference quarter-final series.
The Lakers, who had overpowered their opponents 103-88 in the series opener on Sunday, briefly led by 19 points with All-Star Bryant in sizzling form before the Nuggets clawed their way back to trail by just four with a little under two minutes left.
However, point guard Ramon Sessions gave the home team some breathing space with a floating jump shot to put Los Angeles 100-94 ahead and they held on to maintain control in the best-of-seven series.
Sessions finished with 14 points while the two seven-footers, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, weighed in with 27 and 13 points respectively at a packed-out Staples Center.
Guard Ty Lawson led the way for the fast-paced but relatively inexperienced Nuggets with 25 points and forward Kenneth Faried contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The series shifts to Denver for Game Three on Friday and Game Four on Sunday.