LOS ANGELES — Even after nearly a quarter-century on NBA benches, Denver coach George Karl can't remember the last time he was this nervous for a big game.

With a third straight victory over the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, his Nuggets would become just the ninth team to escape a 3-1 series deficit.

Game 7 is on Karl's 61st birthday, too.

While the Nuggets are rolling, the Lakers are reeling. Denver blew out Los Angeles in Game 6 after taking a huge lead in Game 5. Kobe Bryant was unable to save the Lakers either time.

At least the third-seeded Lakers will be at home. They also might get help from Metta World Peace, who will return from suspension to lead the physical play necessary to slow the Nuggets.