Box Score: Lakers 92, Nuggets 88
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 108.2, Nuggets 103.5
True Shooting %: Lakers 51.1%, Nuggets 49.6%
This was the type of game the Lakers wanted to play. It was on their favored slow pace instead of the breakneck speed the Denver Nuggets wanted to do. The Nuggets fought valiantly, yes, but it just seemed right that the Lakers were going on this methodical pace.
Kobe Bryant didn’t shoot particularly well (10 for 25) but I liked the way he played for the most part. He let the game come to him and his shot selection had a nice mix. Kobe got into the paint seemingly at will in the second half and he deferred at the right times. 22 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists for #24.
The much-maligned bench got HUGE contributions from Jordan Hill (12 points and 11 rebounds) and Steve Blake (10 points, 3 assists, even a block on Danilo Gallinari!). Hill was a bundle of energy. He had 7 offensive boards. And Blake, of course, hit that three that essentially put away the game.
Andrew Bynum also had a nice game. He could’ve rebounded more, yes, but 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks is pretty damn good. And Pau Gasol had a great all-around game at 13-9-6. And, finally, the Lakers outrebounded the Nuggets, 48-38. They were able to counter the guys with unlimited turbo in Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee.
It’s not like it was a wire-to-wire finish by the Lakers; it was a close game throughout (both teams shot 39 for 86!). But with the way the game was played, I felt confident the Lakers were going to come away with this one.
Danilo Gallinari went off. He scored 20 points and was taking advantage of the mismatches he was getting. Andre Miller also brought his old man game and was schooling Sessions and Blake early on (he eventually ended up with 15 points).
Also, the Nuggets were scoring early in the paint. They eventually outscored the Lakers in the paint, 52-48, but the disparity seemed more than that.
And, of course, it was hard to stop the Nuggets when they’re in transition. 18-7 fastbreak points in favor of the Nuggets.
For the most part, it was a grind-it-out game in favor of L.A.
Maybe the disparity would’ve been bigger if the Lakers shot better freethrows. L.A. didn’t shoot very many foul shots but 9 for 18 is ugly. 50 percent. Shaq laughs at that percentage.
Also, did you guys see Pau on the TNT broadcast? He looked completely out. My initial thought? Pau Gasol needs food badly.
The Plays Of The Game
There were two and you know what I’m talking about. There was the three made by Ramon Sessions after Gallinari fell on a Pau Gasol pick that left Sessions open. And then it was followed by an F U 3 by Steve Blake after a drive and dish by Kobe. That gave the Lakers the cushion to beat the Nuggets. I’m particularly happy for Steve Blake, who was (sometimes, unfairly) railed by Laker fans throughout the season. It was so good to see Kobe trust his teammates at a time like this.
One more win and the Lakers advance to the second round for a date with Oklahoma City. Just concentrate on closing this out first before looking at the Thunder.
Have a good week, ladies and gentlemen. Just don’t celebrate too much yet and don’t be like that stalker lady that walked out on the court earlier.