LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol had 23 points, 17 rebounds and six assists, Metta World Peace scored 15 points in his return from a seven-game suspension, and the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Denver Nuggets for a thrilling 96-87 victory in Game 7 on Saturday night to win their first-round series.
Steve Blake scored a playoff career-high 19 points and Kobe Bryant had 17 points and eight assists for the Lakers, who blew a 16-point lead in the second half before surviving a finale with wild momentum swings and furious physical play. With Gasol leading an emotional effort, the Lakers narrowly avoided becoming the ninth team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 series lead.
Andrew Bynum had 16 points and a career playoff-high 18 rebounds for Los Angeles, which will open the second round Monday night in Oklahoma City against the second-seeded Thunder.
BOSTON — Kevin Garnett scored 29 points — his most in the regular- or post-season this year — and added 11 rebounds to give the Boston Celtics a 92-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Rajon Rondo had 17 assists, 13 points and 12 rebounds for his eighth career playoff triple-double. He ran the length of the court to receive the inbounds pass and dribble out the final 3.4 seconds of the game.
Game 2 is Monday night in Boston before the series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4.
Andre Iguodala scored 19 points and Evan Turner had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers.