NBA: Lakers edge Nuggets in series decider

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Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, right, of Spain reacts after scoring as Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried reacts as well during the second half in Game 7 in their first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 96-87. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers beat Denver 96-87 on Saturday to edge their first round series 4-3 and reach the Western Conference semi-finals where they will face Oklahoma City Thunder.

Pau Gasol finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds while Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 18 rebounds. Steve Blake scored 19 points and Kobe Bryant had a modest 17 points and eight assists for the Lakers.

Third-seeded Los Angeles also got 15 points from Metta World Peace in his return from a seven-game suspension.

The Lakers advance to play the second-seeded Thunder, who have had more than a week of rest after they swept the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in four games. Game one of the second round series is on Monday.

Al Harrington and Ty Lawson each scored 24 points for Denver, who fell just one victory shy of their first-ever postseason series win over the Lakers.

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