1st Half –
Chauncey came out firing, putting up a 3, knowing he needs to get started early in this game, rather than getting his teammates invoved first as he had done in previous games.
Dahntay Jones must have been fired up after getting the most attention in his life after the past game. He took the ball to the rim every time he got the ball, getting fouled most of the time. If only he could make his free throws or breakaway layups.
On the other side of the ball, Fisher finally decided he wanted to play in this series, after Lakers fans had been calling for his benching. He led the team in scoring for most of the first half until a flury of late shots put Kobe ahead.
Kobe came out very passive in the first quarter to the suprise of everyone. I figured he’d want to have one of his 30+ shot attempt games, putting the entire team on his back. Maybe he’s saving his energy for the 4th quarter, he’s going to need it.
George Karl is still going with the undersized Anthony Carter on Kobe Bryant. It’s still not working, as instead of scoring at will, the Nugs were coming with the double team and he found the open player with ease.
The Lakers went to their big men and it paid off. Several devensive lapses by the Nuggets allowed too many easy points in the paint. Their big men were playing perfectly unselfish basketball, getting many baskets plus the foul. They even had a 4 point play late in the 2nd quarter because of a missed FT and offensive rebound.
Karl went with AC and Billups for a 5 minute span in the 2nd quarter, allowing 4 offensive rebounds in that time period. The refs were letting a lot plays go in the 1st and early in the 2nd. By the end of the period every little touch foul was being called. The Nuggets STILL can’t inbound the ball. They threw it away with 25 seconds left allowing the Lakers to get the final shot. Kobe took advantage of AC’s defense blowing right by him and finding the wide open “Machine” in the corner for an easy 3.
Score at Half 56-56
2nd Half -
At the outset of this half, Melo drains a 3 to put the Nuggets up. Dahntay also started playing great basketball. He kept taking the ball inside and wasn’t an offensive liability for once. The refs continued to call it tight in the 3rd. Kenyon Martin was still suprising everyone by making his goofy looking jumpshot. A big blow came to the Nuggets with 8 minutes left in the 3rd when Nene picked up his 4th foul. Soon after, Bynum followed suit by picking a 4th foul of his own. The Nuggets built up a 6 point lead half way through the 3rd, but then had a horrible 4 possesion stretch. For the first time in the playoffs, Billups looked confused on the court and threw two terrible passes right to Pau Gasol. He followed them up by holding the ball way too long and causing the Nuggets to get called for a 24 second violation. By the end of the 3rd quarter it was all tied up again. What more could you ask for in a WCF pivotal game. The score was tied after each of the first 3 quarters.
4th Quarter -
The Lakers continued their run from the 3rd quarter by pounding the ball inside every single time down the court. It was a 21-3 run in all, 11-0 in the 4th. Nene picked up antoher quick foul earning him his 5th and was sent to the bench once again. Despite Kleiza’s best attempts to get the Nuggets back in the game with a 3 pointer and driving to the lane. He was providing a spark with the ball, but gave up easy baskets playing D. If the Nuggets could have hit a 3 in the forth to bring the lead back within 4, it could have been a different story, but none were falling. JR lost his shot again going 3-13 and 1-10 from behind the arc. The Nuggets made a few runs late, but their defense couldn’t get enough stops to sustain their runs.
The Lakers have found the blueprint to their sucess. GO INSIDE. They destroyed the Nuggets in the paint 54-36. They rendered Birdman useless in the 2nd half and were about to weather the Nuggets runs because of the consistency that comes with taking the ball inside.
Player of Game – Lamar Odom – Where has this guy been? Everyone knows he’s talented and athletic, but was averaging career lows in games 1-4. “The Candy Man” as coined by the announcers before the game because of his enormous amount of candy he eats, looked explosive and unafraid of the low post players of the Nuggets, even after being blocked a few times.
Nuggets have their backs against the wall for the first time this season but are going home to Denver where the fans do not want to let this run end on their home court. It should be a great game. Even if the Nuggets win, no one is giving them a chance on the road for game 7 in LA. The Nuggets go, as JR goes, his passing is there, but his shot has been atrocious. He has to keep shooting to spread the D and keep defenders off Melo but he has to shoot better than 20%.