Game Three — When Kobe and Gasol Stepped Up

Kurt —  May 24, 2009

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles
Big players where win big, close games. That is how this series is going to be — close games. Saturday the Lakers got big plays when it mattered from both Kobe and Gasol.

We all saw what Kobe did, playing great even at the point in the fourth where he said he couldn’t feel his legs and was still making plays. With all the words written, I’ll let Dex use words and poetry to describe the performance (because he write pretty, and stuff).

Tonight Kobe played with the impossible serpentine perfection of one of Tarantino’s romanticized assassins from the Kill Bill movies. I always believe that he will do the impossible, a la Beatrix Kiddo defeating the Crazy 88 single-handed, but once he starts dropping those shots I feel as wondrous as if witnessing it for the first time.

Let these grey jackals
Snap and snarl and swarm, let them
Leap at the tiger.
Let them leap at flames; he is
Already gone; he
Ate up their hearts and vanished.

• As for Gasol, here is the best stat of the night — the guy he was guarding was 0-6 in the fourth quarter.

He, when he was decisive and attacked, was fantastic on the offensive end. He’s such a cerebral player and sometimes he waits to analyze before he attacks. When he made up his mind and went he was almost impossible stop. Hope to see more of that Gasol.

• I really think the Lakers did a pretty good job on Anthony all night — yes, he had 18 first half points, but the field goals he was getting were basically all jumpers. He had two points in the paint al night (plus he was fouled a few times inside). In the first half his jumpers were falling, but in the second half they didn’t. I can live with that.

• Laker fans have had our frustrations with Derek Fisher — and he did not have a good game again, 2 of 6 from the floor (0-4 after the first quarter) and committing a key late charging penalty — but to his credit he is still being aggressive. He came out trying to make plays and had some good mixed with the bad (remember the steal on Billups that led to the Ariza layup).

The other half of that is, as we have also discussed, who is stepping up do demand the minutes? Certainly not a shaky Brown or Farmar last night. If I were coach, I’d try to give each guy some burn in the first half and see who has the hot hand then ride it. But that has never been Phil Jackson’s style — it never has been and we can’t expect him to change now. What we can hope is he recognizes the nights Fisher is just killing the team and cuts his minutes. But that will only happen on nights when someone else steps up.

• I love watching Trevor Ariza play.