DENVER, UNITED STATES // Kobe Bryant scored 35 points to guide the Los Angeles Lakers back to the NBA finals with a 119-92 rout of the Denver Nuggets yesterday, as the visitors closed out their Western Conference series in style. Bryant added 10 assists while teammates Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom had 20 points apiece in one of the most complete postseason outings for the Lakers, who triumphed 4-2 in the best-of-seven series. "We had the effort and the execution to match (tonight)," Bryant told reporters after clinching his sixth NBA Finals appearance and second in a row. "It's been a physical march back to the finals. We're back to the place where we didn't finish our business last year. "Hopefully we do it this year." Denver's Carmelo Anthony had a team-high 25 points while shooting just 6-for-17 from the field and JR Smith chipped in 24 points for the Nuggets, who struggled out of the gate and never recovered.
Los Angeles, who were beaten by the Boston Celtics in last year's title showdown, await the winner of the Eastern Conference finals series between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Magic lead 3-2 and can clinch the Eastern Conference finals today at home in Game 6 and prevent the Kobe Bryant-LeBron James showdown that has basketball fans excited. The finals begin on Thursday, at Los Angeles if Orlando wins, and at Cleveland if the Cavaliers prevail.
* With agencies