Lakers/Nuggets (Game 2): Just Buy Your Tacos

Rey Moralde —  May 1, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 104, Nuggets 100
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 111.8, Nuggets 107.5
True Shooting %: Lakers 51.7%, Nuggets 52.2%

Seeing as the two other playoff games earlier tonight couldn’t hold home court, we’re all hoping it’s a different story in Staples Center.

And well… it showed early that this was JUST a bad match-up for Denver. The Lakers’ size was just too much to handle. Andrew Bynum had a playoff career high 27 points and Pau Gasol played the facilitating big man (13 points, 10 boards, 5 assists). When they’re not doing their damage, Jordan Hill came in to neutralize Denver’s hustle. Personal problems and all, he put that all aside by grabbing 10 rebounds. He’s been quite a good third big man for them Lakers. Also… Devin Ebanks? Way to go for doing the little things. Not the best day on the field but he grabbed 8 boards!

Kobe Bryant scored 38 points on an efficient 15-for-29 shooting. He was putting on a clinic early on creating space for his jumpers. He got a bit more erratic in the second half but, overall, it’s hard to criticize 38 points while making over half of his shots.

It’s also good that they turned up the hustle in the second half because the Nuggets were pummeling them on the boards early (they were getting so many offensive boards and second chance points). I attribute that to Hill’s infectious energy. For the most part, the Laker ball movement was good but then there was a period in the fourth quarter that the offense was stagnant. That enabled the Nuggets to come back. But, hey, at least, the Lakers weren’t in Santa Claus mode tonight. They only had 10 turnovers tonight.

Maybe Bynum was only looking for offense tonight. Note to Bynum: the Lakers play better when you play defense. And he didn’t seem too engaged in playing that and boxing out. Bynum got 9 boards simply because he’s a big dude but when this guy hustles, he should be able to grab 15 to 18 boards even with Gasol or Hill there.

It seemed contagious. Denver seemed to get off the shots that they wanted; they just missed them. Ty Lawson’s lightning drives and jumpers were there (he had 25 points). Kenneth Faried’s rough and tumble play was on (14 points and 10 rebounds). Corey Brewer (13 points off the bench) shot decently. But, overall, it was just a rough day in the office in terms of shooting. The Lakers got lucky. The Nuggets shot 4 for 19 behind the arc (that missed 3 by Ty Lawson when the Lakers were up, 95-91, was a dodged bullet, no question).

The Nuggets did beat them in transition, though. Not like you expected the Lakers to get back on transition D but the Nuggets had the edge on fastbreak points, 30-15. When the Nuggets were playing their tempo, there wasn’t much the Lakers could do about it.

And while we make fun of JaVale McGee a whole lot, he did have six blocks. The Lakers oughta pump fake more. Or tell him his mom is making out with Dr. J again.

Oh, yeah. The Lakers might wanna move around a bit more on offense. Especially in the all-important 4th quarter.

Not that the Lakers were better behind the arc. The Lakers shot 2 for 15 from Downtown (SWV would be disappointed), which made a nice two-story house inside Staples Center.

Kobe with the block on Al Harrington’s dunk in the third quarter. The old man can still run fast and jump high! I don’t think I’ve seen Kobe chase down a block in years. Good hustle!

But, alas, the Nuggets scored 100 points so the Staples Center crowd didn’t get them tacos and Twitter L.A. didn’t get virtual tacos. Hey, the Lakers and their fans (us!) shall take the victory, though. They held home court and now go to Denver up, 2-0, in this best-of-seven.

What concerns me a bit is that Denver was able to make this close and they’ll look at this as a moral victory. Yes, moral victories don’t equal real wins in basketball games… but now they’ll have some confidence going into Game 3 in Colorado.

Still, the Lakers are the superior match-up. Take care of business in Game 3. And they can step on their necks while they’re down in Game 4. One game at a time. Push it real good.

But mmmmmmm. Tacos. This recap is over. I’m hungry.

Rey Moralde