After blowing a 3-1 series lead, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in a gritty must win Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets Saturday night at the Staples Center.

Pau Gasol (pictured left) had 23 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists to lead L.A. to the first-round series victory. Metta World Peace returned from his 7 game suspension and scored 15 points for the Lakers, and more importantly, played lockdown defense.

L.A. point guard Steve Blake scored a playoff career-high 19 points, and Kobe Bryant added 17 points and 8 assists. The Lakers needed all they could get after blowing a 16 point second half lead.

The feisty Nuggets came roaring back as Ty Lawson and Al Harrington scored 24 points each, but it was Denver's 19 turnovers and poor 4th quarter shooting that did them in.

Los Angeles will now take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in a best-of-seven Western conference semifinals showdown. Game 1 is set for Monday night in OKC.