Center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who scored a game-high 29 points, and forward James Worthy combined to lead a fourth-quarter flurry that carried the Lakers past the Denver Nuggets, 120-116, Sunday for a 3-1 edge in their National Basketball Assn. playoff series.
The Lakers can clinch the best-of-seven Western Conference final series with a victory in Game 5 on Wednesday night at the Forum.
With Abdul-Jabbar dominating the boards and feeding teammates for four baskets underneath, the Lakers built an eight-point lead, 110-102, with five minutes to play.
Denver, forced to play without leading scorer Alex English over the final 17 minutes after English suffered an injury to his shooting hand, battled back behind forward Calvin Natt, who scored eight straight points.
Back-to-back three-point baskets by Elston Turner and Mike Evans drew the Nuggets into a 116-116 tie with 1:01 to play. But Worthy, who rebounded from first-half foul trouble to score 11 points in the final quarter, scored on a tip-in--the Lakers' fifth shot at the basket--with 20 seconds left for a 118-116 lead.
Guard Byron Scott tacked on two free throws with five seconds left to account for the final margin.
The Lakers continued their hot playoff shooting performance, hitting on 65% of their field-goal attempts in the first half, but still trailed, 70-68, at intermission.
The Nuggets, who shot only 46% in the half, got 16 more field-goal attempts thanks to a 30-21 rebounding edge in the half and only five turnovers to the Lakers' 15.
English had 26 points at the half and got an early basket in the third quarter. But he injured his hand with 5:08 left in the third quarter and didn't return.
The Lakers showed signs of pulling away in the quarter, but made only three of eight foul shots after going a perfect 15 of 15 in the first half, and the third quarter ended in a 93-93 deadlock.
Worthy scored five straight Laker points, four of them on a pair of baskets underneath after passes from Abdul-Jabbar, to give the Lakers a 106-99 edge. Worthy's dunk, again on a feed from Abdul-Jabbar, gave the Lakers their biggest advantage at 110-102.