Game 5 reaction and video
When BK state that last night's 103-94 Game 5 win over the Denver Nuggets was big enough to create its own genus for yet another bad Jurrassic Park sequel, he wasn't just whipping around hyperbole. This was a win that could have made or broken the Lakers' postseason quest. Advancing forward from a 3-2 disadvantage isn't impossible. It's hardly unheard of. But lest we forget, it's also anything but easy.
Thus, the importance of avoiding that scenario can't be underestimated.
Even more noteworthy, particularly when looking forward, was how the Lakers won. With defense, a second half stretch of around ten minutes where the Nuggets notched just five points. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom swatting shots and challenging at the rim. Stop after stop after stop. Phil Jackson has seen a lot over his coaching career, and even he sat up and said "Wow!" while watching this sustained a lockdown.
And unlike the series previous quartet of contests, where the formula seemed to be "Kobe and Pau fill it up and roll the dice that someone else can maybe step up," every Laker that hit the hardwood added a legit two cents. One dozen points apiece from Trevor Ariza and the heretofore shaky Derek Fisher. Andrew Bynum's presence felt during the first half. Luke Walton played big minutes during the critical defensive stand. Even Sasha Vujacic, who didn't remove his warmups after halftime, came through by draining a buzzer beating three to kick off the Gatorade break. As Fox Sports' Todd Behrendt notes, that balanced attack put the purple and gold into overdrive.
Coming off two games in Denver in which Pau Gasol was the only Laker other than Bryant to show up, L.A. desperately needed its supporting cast to take some pressure off its leading man. At least, if it was going to avoid returning to Denver in a 3-2 hole and choking away its title aspirations in that thin mountain air. Enter Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum and Shannon Brown — four players who can't match Kobe's Q rating combined, but whose contributions Wednesday night were essential to the Lakers' 103-94 Game 5 win.
"We definitely see (what's happening with LeBron in the Eastern Conference finals) and we feel like we're the deepest team in the league," Bynum said. "So everybody has the opportunity to contribute all the time. If the ball's moving and we're moving ourselves, we've got a good shot."
Credit also the work from Kobe Bryant as a facilitator/quarterback, part of a game plan to keep everyone involved.
Two supporting players, however, may have walked away making the biggest impression.
The first was Lamar Odom, he of the balky back and previously meager stat lines. Walton mentioned after the game that LO's in much more pain than he'll readily admit, instead opting to chug along without excuses and make the best of a bad situation. And last night, emphasis was "best." 19/14 off the bench, highlighted by an ability to bounce back after frustrating sequences like missed layups. It's hardly groundbreaking news that when Odom is in a groove, the Lakers typically add more wins to their column.
Lamar Odom, on playing through his back pain and the emphatic dunk he threw down on Chris Andersen.
By the way, the rim shot after LO's deadpan joke came courtesy the editing magic of yours truly. We got sound effects up in this mug! This ain't your daddy's Lakers Blog, people!
More from Lamar on playing through the pain. Now in his tenth year and really in want of a ring, it's all about sucking it up.
The other guy who really grabbed notice was Shannon Brown, who came off the pine during the second half and ignited the team and Staples Center faithful with some seriously energetic play on both sides of the ball. In particular, a dunk he threw down over The Birdman really helped snowball events in L.A.'s favor.
Beyond simply how well Shannon played, what truly impressed me was his ability to enter the game cold, having logged roughly zero first half minutes. That ability to stay ready is a reflection of a professionalism and attitude I've often praised. As did Phil after the game.
Throw all that together and you've got the Lakers playing at the top of their game (possibly quite literally) and it couldn't have come at a better time. AK