Live from Staples- Lakers vs. Nuggets, Game 2
What's more exciting than Game 1 playoff action? Game 2 playoff action! Especially when Jeffrey Osborne sings the National Anthem.
AK with the first quarter.
10:57 - After seeing the first Laker possession evolve into a series of start stop passes and LO eventually putting up a prayer to beat the 24 second clock, Fish swipes the ball from K-Mart, then puts up a jumper just inside the arc. Money. The Laker bench doesn't have to wait too long before getting to sit down.
10:36 - I'm not sure I've ever seen a ball spin around the rim as many times before going on down as the layup Melo just sank. I don't love seeing the Nuggets score a bucket, but still, it was kinda cool.
The first two baskets scored basically in Vlad Rad's grill came off him playing not exactly the stoutest of D. But that having to guard that 20-foot jumper by AI just wasn't fair. Iverson's just too quick not to keep Radmanovic entirely on his heels.
6:40 - Good work by Gasol and Vlad Rad help create a third chance bucket for the Spaniard. In this particular case, third time is indeed a charm.
5:00- Melo backs down Vlad, works his way closer to the rack, then puts up the ten foot turnaround for another pair of points. It's not the first time Melo has gotten his way with Radmanovic on him. Hopefully, fingers crossed, it'll be something reasonably close to the last.
3:58 - Anthony's errant launch from dowtown slips way too easily into the hands of Marcus Camby, who slipped way too easily between LO and Gasol to reach the rock. Denver's been beating the Lakers on the boards thus far this game. And in a case like this possession, it's costly.
3:40 - Nice job by Kobe of taking K-Mart off the dribble, then knifing his way between a pair of Nuggets defenders for the reverse layup.
3:25 - day-ummm! Move over Dwight Howard. Kobe's declaring a new "Superman" Sheriff in town.
2:16 - LO spots a Kobe flashing towards the rack and hits him perfectly for the and one bucket, which he punches at the expense of Melo. That's the second whistle for Melo, who'll now have to take a seat until a nice chunk of the second has concluded. J.R. Smith checks in for the Nuggets.
1:05 - Walton's forced to pick up Smith during Denver's transition. The speed matchup definitely favors Smith, who keeps Luke on his heels during his coast to coast drive towards the bucket.
26.0 - A three ball by Kobe puts the Lakers up by the same margin.
AI sinks a pair at the stripe seconds before the quarter winds down with Farmar getting his layup swatted by Camby. Lakers 33, Nuggets 32. After seeing Denver kick off the action running wild and often unchecked, the Lakers have done a better job putting the clamps down during more possessions. Not that improvements aren't still in order. The Nuggets are beating them 13-9 on the glass and aside from Kobe (who's accrued 20 points on a scorching 8-10 start), nobody's really finding much success stroking nylon. BK will monitor the second.
11:00- Mbenga into the lineup and he'll body up Nene. That leaves LO to stick Najera, a much smaller body, and far less bruising.
10:21- Lakers lead 40-36, and are getting production right now from the seconds. Neither team seems able to stop the other, but the Lakers are more capable of getting them when the time comes than Denver.
Luke beats JR Smith on a jump ball. Smith is going to get a lot of flak for that when they watch the tape.
8:30- Sasha rattles- and I do mean rattles- a three home to give the Lakers a 43-36 lead. Good minutes from Mbenga, who is keeping Nene quiet and doing good work on the boards. In some ways, Karl is doing LA a favor with this matchup. DJ can body up Nene, who isn't much of an offensive threat right now, and meanwhile Gasol can get some rest on the bench. I might try to continue going small, and see if I could force the Lakers to either keep Pau on the floor, or get all the littles on the floor.
Melo back in for Denver, Vlad and Kobe back for LA.
Anthony attacked Vlad early, let's see if he keeps it up.
7:15- 47-36 LAL. The Lakers are doing a good job of keeping Denver in the halfcourt. Not a lot of run outs. They can still score, but if the Lakers make them more one dimensional, obviously it works in their favor.
Melo buries a jumper on Vlad. That's just a brutal matchup for Vladdy. Not a lot of people can guard Melo, period, and certainly Radmanovic isn't one of them.
Timeout on the floor. 5:43. Lakers up 50-39, after Kobe drills a three over Nene. This is one of those nights, or at least one of those stretches, where he's so confident that you don't mind almost any shot he takes, especially with the reserves on the floor. The Nuggets seem to be giving him that outside shot in an effort to pack the lane, and right now, Kobe is killing them. Off screens, or just man up, he's very smooth with the jumper tonight.
4:10- LO picks up his third, after the trip previous when Kobe fed him off the double, and Odom had a clear path to the hoop (in part because nobody down low moved for the Nuggets). Walton in for Odom. This becomes a very important stretch for the Lakers, who will finish the half Odomless.
3:37- Melo makes things easier by picking up his third foul under the hoops, trying to body up Gasol. Kleiza in for him.
1:48- Vlad buries a three over the Denver zone, making the Laker lead eight, before AI comes back ont he other end, beating Fish on the right and heading along the baseline for the easy layup.
The Lakers have been slowed down by the Dener zone, but there seems to be a diminishing return when they go to it too often. Like right there, when Fish simply dribbles into the interior of the zone, and drops a baby J over the bigs inside.
Lakers up 59-49. That's a good Q2 for LAL, holding Denver to 17 points. Not all of that is lock down defense, but the Lakers did a good job on that end (or at the very least, got good results), and helped themselves out by taking care of the ball and limiting Denver's run out chances. They got a little impatient against the zone, settling for jumpers when they could have tried a little harder to make some hay in the soft spots, but overall, it's hard to complain about where they are. Ten point lead, with Denver doing everything they can to try and take away the inside game.
More to come in a bit.
10:28 - Bad break for the Lakers. D. Fish makes a diving effort to save the ball trickling towards the sideline, but flings the ball backwards into Camby's mitts. A couple dribbles and a bucket. Two more Denver points.
9:38 - Nice inside out ball movement creates a kick out to Kobe at the top of the arc. The ball hits nothing but nylong and the court.
8:40 - Kobe works and fakes K-Mart on the perimeter, then after a few dribbles, drops the sick bouce pass into the paint to a streaking Gasol.
7:11 - Too much contact between LO and Melo in the paint after Anthony snags the Denver loose ball. Melo draws the whistle while on the way up, the fourth one getting assessed to Lamar. He'll be sitting for a while, whether for Luke (who just entered the game) or somebody else.
6:26 - AI may have been going with a full head of steam to the rack, but he still didn't have enough speed that Fish didn't have plenty of time to camp out and take the easy charge. Basket wiped away on an easy call.
5:58 - An undecisive two man passing game between Vlad and Luke concludes with Walton fumbling an exchange, AI snatching the rock, then feeding Kleiza for streaking dunk. Denver's now up by 1 and Phil calls time out. Aside from Denver's 19-8 run during this quarter, another problematic area remains the rebounding department. With LO likely on the pine for a while, the Lakers will need to work extra hard to keep this from hurting them even worse.
4:43 - Terrific job by all five Lakers of swinging the ball around and looking for the good shot (preferably inside) instead of just settling. With the clock winding down, Kobe works towards the basket, then hits Luke, who's even closer, for the and one layup.
3:55 - Kobe goes up, then tosses the two handed laser to Vlad flashing towards the bucket. Emphatic reverse jam for Radmanovic, who puts the Lakers up by 5 and the crowd up on its feet. There's a sense of a Laker momentum rebuilding after a tough start to the frame.
2:40 - More penetration by Kobe, then the kick out to Walton in the corner district of Downtown. Ball goes down and the lead's now pushed to 8. Time out Denver, who appears to be abandoning the zone after a few possessions where the Lakers have managed to create damage by creeping inside it.
1:00 - Nice work off the inbound between Pau and Kobe. Luke hits Pau to start the clock rolling, then tosses a lob passes that requires Kobe to stretch out, but not so far that he can't throw down a dramatic one handed jam.
A driving layup from Walton and a three ball from Sasha go unanswered, allowing the Lakers to build an 89-79 advantage as the frame draws to a close. After a ragged start, the Lakers began breaking Denver's D through continual looks inside, patience and 3-8 shooting from behind the arc when those shots have been needed. The mo's clearly on their side, so it's now up to them to keep it rolling for twelve more minutes. BK will supervise.
Well, that didn't take long. LO picks up his fifth on a loose ball faoul underneath about 30 ticks into the quarter. He'll have to sit down. Walton replaces him.
10:40- Nice work from Luke, who penetrates, draws the D, then kicks back out to Sasha for teh wide open triple, then on the next trip down, Walton cuts on the baseline and makes himself available for a great pass from Kobe for the easy layup. Again, as soon as the double starts to move at Kobe, he finds the open man. As long as guys make themselves available, they'll be in an easy spot for points.
9:07- Again, Kobe penetrates, draws the D, and dishes to Gasol for the easy dunk.
8:49- 96-89 LAL. Timeout on the court.
7:48- 4 on 4 crime, as Martin picks up the offensive foul for dropping a shoulder into Walton on the dribble drive. That sends him to the bench, and Melo back into the game. He posts up Luke adn forces the ball in. Good play by Melo. Lakers up 98-93.
Great play by Sasha to retrieve the loose ball, giving Kobe the chance to totally use Najera on the perimeter, and drive for the and-one. Sick play by Kobe, and with the added benefit of a cheap fifth on Martin. Terrible foul, because Kobe had already beaten Najera clean. At the very least, if K Mart was going to use the foul, he needed to hammer him.
6:04- Lakers up 101-93, with Melo going to the line for two.
5:47- Karl's gamble to leave Martin on the floor bombs out, as Gasol forces him into his sixth with a nice spin move along the left baseline. That'll open things up in a big way for the Lakers, because Denver loses a threat on both ends.
5:37- The Nuggets are dissolving before our eyes. Two T's in 10 seconds, the first on JR Smith for throwing a bow at Sahsa, the next on AI for complaining about an offensive foul call on Melo against Walton (easy call for Salvatore, since Melo clearly dropped his shoulder into Luke, who was set). After the T, Kobe buries a three in Najera's face, and the Lakers are up 108-94.
3:40- Denver has totally folded. Kobe drives the right baseline, easily beating Kleiza one on one (you have to see that coming) and nobody moves. Camby barely budged to offer some help. On the other end, Melo goes one on one against Walton in the post, and basically flings the ball at the hoop.
2:02- Kobe and Fish come out for JF and Coby Karl. Lakers up 19, 120-101.
In the end, the Lakers are just a better team, with more discipline, more composure, and poise. And it helps, too, when Kobe pumps in 49/4/10. All that's left now is to see if Karl scores.
Mbenga and Newble in. Under a minute in "Score Coby Score" time.
Nope. He's shut out.
Oh well. FINAL SCORE: Lakers 122, Denver 107. They're just better. I think Denver will win a game on their home floor, but anything more than Lakers in six would absolutely shock me. I'm talking big time surprise. Denver didn't have an answer for the Lakers, despite some raggedy play. It was only later in the game that Gasol was deeply involved, LO was a total non-factor, as was Vlad. An imperfect game from LA, and they still win by 15. So LA has now won with Kobe having an off night and everyone else kicking ass, and an off night from some of the supporting cast while Kobe kills it. That about covers it.
More to come. Thanks for following along.