The Lakers-Nuggets series was 3-1 Tuesday night as the two teams took the court in the Staples Center. Based on the way this series has gone, just about everyone expected an easy Lakers win, so that they could cruise on to the second round and face Oklahoma City. And by everyone, I’m including the Lakers roster too, because that is exactly how they played.
The Nuggets led by as many as 15 points halfway through the fourth quarter. A desperation 3 pointer by Steve Blake as the shot clock expired appeared to be a momentum changer for the lifeless Lakers. And then Kobe Bryant happened. Again. And again. And again. And yes, again. Bryant hit four huge 3 pointers in the last 4:45 of the game, narrowing that 15 point deficit to just 2 points. Kobe went on to miss a game tying buzzer beater, followed by a miss by Ramon Sessions.
The Nuggets were lead by a stellar performance by Javale McGee. ::record scratch:: I know. I know. McGee looked like a new player, scoring 21 points and adding 14 boards while being a major presence inside. Where was Andrew Bynum you ask? Being slow to transition on defense, standing in the post just watching Nuggets players drive past him to the rim….
Bynum, who scored 16 points and 11 rebounds, seemed to be irritated by his lack of offensive possessions, which is understandable. Lakers are much bigger than the Nuggets and he should have been utilized more down low. However, Bynum needs to realize he’s a 7 ft center. So you didn’t get the ball as much as you liked, or even should have. Your defensive presence would have stopped McGee and Andre Miller, and maybe your next trip would be to OKC, instead of Denver.
LA instead opted to rely heavily on Bryant, who finished with 43 points. Kobe wasn’t very pleased with his team and said after the game, “I almost bailed us out, is what happened. That’s something you can’t rely on if you’re going to win a championship.”
Lakers visit Denver for Game 6 on Thursday night. Nuggets still have an uphill battle to win the next 2, but they’ve proved a lot by winning a tough Game 5 on the road.