After trailing 3-1 in the NBA first round best-of-seven series, the Denver Nuggets have rallied to win two straight, including Thursday night’s 113-96 victory in Denver over the Los Angeles Lakers to force a deciding Game 7 tonight in Los Angeles at the Staples Center at 8:30 MT (TV: Altitude/TNT).

If the Nuggets can create a third straight victory over the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, Denver would become just the ninth team to escape a 3-1 series deficit, completing an improbable comeback against Kobe Bryant and Co. The Nuggets have stared down two elimination games with a maturity their coach only hoped he would see in this series, sending the bigger, stronger Lakers staggering home for a big finish.

“I’m nervous already,” Karl said Friday before the Nuggets caught another flight to Los Angeles. “I am 61 years old and I haven’t been nervous, this nervous, for a game this early in a long time.”

While the Nuggets are rolling, the Lakers are reeling: Los Angeles has played horribly for nearly all of the past two games, with Bryant’s Game 5 comeback falling short before Denver blew out the Lakers 113-96 in Game 6. If the Lakers blow the series, none of Bryant’s teammates will be safe from the wrath of fans who expect championships.

The 2012 NBA Playoffs represent the sixth time ever that the Nuggets and Lakers will be meeting in the postseason, with Denver having gone 0-5 in the previous five series meetings. The most recent meeting came during the 2009 Western Conference Finals, with Los Angeles winning that series 4-2 to advance to the NBA Finals and win the 2009 NBA Championship.