It bothered me in game one when Kobe took the Lakers out of what was working. In game two, he was working.
In the first quarter he took the ball to the basket â€” of his 10 shots in the quarter 4 were dunks or layups. That freed up his midrange game, five more shots were in the midrange. There was just one three attempted. I was worried that he would take on the challenge of Kenyon Martin by becoming â€œpull-up jumper Kobe,â€ but he went to the rack.
Then, when the Nuggets started to adjust to what he was doing, Kobe picked up 10 dimes in the last three quarters (he had none in the first). Eight of those came in the second half. The Nuggets really donâ€™t have an answer. I think KD at Ball Donâ€™t Lie summed it up well (as he always does):
Kobe Bryant (49 points, ten assists) is one of the best shooting guards to ever play this game.
Kobe Bryant was guarded, mostly, by a pair of power forwards who couldn’t keep up with most of this league’s small forwards. If you can’t follow Ryan Bowen around the pine, why should you have to guard Kobe Bryant? George? Kenyon and Eduardo want a word. And they want to move back to Ronny Turiaf, if at all possible.
â€¢ Game two looked a lot like game one on some key levels. First, the Nuggets offensive rating for the game was 109.2 (points per 100 possessions), not much different than the 110.7 they had in game one. The Lakers defense continues to keep the Nuggets just below their season average (112.1).
And, as is obvious without the numbers, the Nuggets donâ€™t have any defensive answer to the Lakers. LA had an offensive rating of 124.5, pretty much identical to the 124.3 from game one. The Lakers season average was 114.9 and the Suns led the entire NBA at 115.8.
â€¢ The good news, 98 possessions in game two, five slower than game one. A few less would be great but the Lakers are better off with it under 100.
â€¢ Good note on Carmelo from Tony Starks in the comments:
Melo has gotten no calls these first 2 games. With that said, though, melo-melo man is a black hole. my gosh. mr. bridges says he only has 3 moves on the block. Iâ€™m sure 1 of them is definitely not passing. he mustâ€™ve got the ball at least 10 times on the block/15 ft. out (where he likes it).
3 times (at most) he passed the ball (reluctantly – 1 for a turnover, 1 for a made AI 3, and one for an AI miss). The other 9-10 times, heâ€™s looking to get up his own shot. Iâ€™ve seen him and Kleiza pass the ball to each other like 3 times all series. Sad.
Reed added this note along the same lines:
Iverson and Melo are obviously talented and are going to put up gaudy scoring numbers, but you get the feeling they are incapable of combining to shoot better than 45%. With Denver having no one on their team that is going to get a lot of easy, efficient points inside, all of that perimeter scoring isnâ€™t going to avail much. On the flip side, Kobe also usually shoots 45%, but he mixes it with Pau and Odomâ€™s 55%+ shooting and great playmaking.
â€¢ When the Lakers attacked the Nuggets zone inside out (via Kobe penetration or passes into Pau) they got good looks, even the kick-out threes were very open ones. When they just went around the perimeter the looks were poor. Maybe thereâ€™s a lesson in there somewhereâ€¦..
â€¢ The Nuggets arenâ€™t getting the calls? Itâ€™s â€œ5 on 8â€ to quote Mr. Smith. Really? As J.D. Hastings pointed out in the comments, the Nuggets have shot more free throws than the Lakers in both games â€” 17 more over both games. While that is not the ultimate test of quality officiating, itâ€™s a sign things may be more fair than the Nuggets realize. The Nuggets are just a little desperate. And letting the officials get into their heads.