Andrew Bynum’s theory on close-out games could be correct. Problem is you actually have to play with some kind of intensity from the jump in order to take the will of your opponent. Consider the Denver Nuggets unmoved by Bynum’s easy-going theory on playoff hoops.
You can also consider the Lakers title hopeless if this is how they’re going to go about their business when the real pressure is on.
In a game when the Lake Show needed to show up on time and ready to roll, they hit the snooze snoring their way to a 15-point deficit with under seven minutes to play in the fourth.
Seeing the reality of having to pack for Denver coming into clear focus, the Lakers finally played with the intensity necessary to win a close-out game. As you would expect the man that finally lit the Lakers’ fuse was none other than Kobe Bryant.
The record will show a listless 102-99 loss for Los Angeles in Game 5 of this best of seven first round series.
The box score will show 43 points by Bryant in a losing effort.
The game tape will reveal one of the more amazing fourth quarter performances you’ll ever see from one man in a playoff game.
Kobe’s 14 fourth quarter points were highlighted by a trifecta of triples in increasing degrees of difficulty. First Bryant buried a three from Torrance. Then he came back and hit another in transition. Finally for good measure Kobe killed Danilo Gallinari with a three ball from deep in the corner.
Before you knew it the Lakers had climbed to within one shot of taking the lead.
But that never came to be. Kobe couldn’t capitalize on a close range shot, the Nuggets got big buckets from Andre Miller, Ramon Sessions teased Staples with a late three only to miss an open one at the buzzer.
It was too little too late in the end.
The reality is Denver wanted this one more than the Lakers. The ugly truth is JaVale McGee played with more heart than Bynum and Pau Gasol combined. Drew put up 16 and 11 but that isn’t enough when you call your shot in such arrogant fashion. Gasol was a complete non-factor.
Meanwhile McGee is really coming into his own this series. He went for 21 and 14 off the bench. His point total was second best for the Nuggets who got 24 from Miller in a reserve role.
No chance the Lakers can compete with a squad that gets two 20+ point games from reserves. Not when L.A.’s bench is only putting 19 on the scoreboard.
But beyond the stats the real tale of the tape can be measured in the effort department. Denver played relaxed, easing into their comfort zone while also displaying playoff intensity.
The Lakers played as if Bynum’s theory was inevitable, expecting George Karl’s team to rollover and play dead. Well, the Lakers played themselves and their reward is they’ll be able to play with Metta World Peace again if this series goes to seven games. Sadly enough, there’s a good chance of that happening with these typically inexplicable efforts.