Maybe George Karl isn’t crazy after all. After showing signs of big potential last year, the year so far has been forgettable for Kleiza. He was the dealbreaker in a trade for Ron Artest at the deadline last year, and this was supposed to be the year he broke out. Instead he has regressed in every major statistic but George has always had faith by giving him every opportunity to show his worth. After only seeing 7 minutes of burn in his last 2 games, he saw triple that and made the most of his opportunities by hitting timely 3s and crashing the boards. LK finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds (3 offensive), and some hard nosed D. He was the spark off the bench that JR and Birdman haven’t been able to provide. After the game George Karl even went as far as saying, “We don’t win this game without Linas Kleiza.”
Let’s not forget the stars though, Carmelo had 34 and 9 boards, while Billups still hasn’t found his shot but managed to get to the line enough to get 27 points with only 1 turnover. Melo is still putting up these gaudy numbers but I think isn’t playing up to his potential. In the earlier rounds when he was doubled he would easily find a cutting Nene or an open Dahtay or JR for 3 but against the Lakers he’s trying to do it all himself and trying to dribble through these causing a few costly turnovers. Dahntay Jones looked even worse in game two by picking up a quick 4 fouls. This was probably a blessing in disguise as it allowed Kleiza to come in, but it’s looking fairly obvious to anyone not named George Karl that he should not be starting.
JR, where are you? It looked like once you hit that first 3 you had found your stroke again, but that would be your only points of the night to go along with 3 turnovers and a few defensive lapses. Is it your strained calf? Maybe Kobe’s D? Hopefully the Nuggets crowd can get you going early in game 3 to show why you are one of the most explosive players in the game
The Lakers front line continues to get easy dunks and lay-ins after missed shots. This is demoralizing as the Nuggets play good defense for 20 seconds to force a bad shot, only to see a Laker get the rebound for an easy 2. The Nuggets need to dig deep and box out EVERY TIME to limit these opportunities. Kobe again showed why he’s one of the best in the game by scoring 32 and making a few clutch shots late in the forth. His 32 came in a much more efficient form than his 40 did in game 1. Even with Carmelo’s hand right in his face, he still pulled up and drained shot after shot and made all 10 of his free throws. But alas for the final shot of the game, the ball was not in Kobe’s hands but in those of the gritty veteran Derek Fisher. He had a great look from the corner that went begging as time expired.
Final Score: 106-103
Anthony Carter Watch: Was he being punished for his gift to the Lakers on Tuesday? Maybe. He finished with only 6 minutes of PT.