No matter what happens tonight in Denver the Lakers have put themselves in a bad place. Win and their reward for eliminating the Nuggets is an immediate flight to Oklahoma City where they’ll open the second round series on Saturday. Lose and they get the luxury of getting Metta World Peace back for a Saturday Game 7 in Staples.
Either way their Bynum-esque approach to Game 5 has put another unnecessary obstacle in their path to a potential title.
But thinking of anything beyond Game 6 is, well, just being all Bynum about this process. Mike Brown needs to get his group dialed in for their toughest task to date. The Lakers can win in Denver, they’ve already proven that. What we have yet to see is an inspired effort in an important postseason game.
Take away Kobe Bryant’s brilliant fourth quarter and the Lake Show would have had the curtain dropped on them in emphatic fashion in their Game 5 belly flop.
Of course we’ve come to expect inconsistent efforts from this team. That has been the case all year long during the regular season so why would things be any different in the playoffs?
Perhaps the biggest difference maker in this series has been JaVale McGee. His infectious energy off the bench has turned the tide for Denver leaving the Laker bigs looking more disinterested than Charlotte Bobcat fans with season tickets.
In order for the Lakers to get this series back on their terms the Lakers need much more from Pau Gasol. He was invisible in Game 5, looking eerily similar to the Spaniard we saw in last season’s postseason disappearing act. Hopefully that was a one-game anomaly. No way the Lakers close the series in Denver with Gasol getting out-worked to the tune of 21 to 9. That was the scoring difference between McGee and Gasol and that pretty much summed up the type of effort L.A. gave.
Almost made you forget just which one was a former All-Star. To the same point you might have forgot which team is supposed to have championship aspirations.
Clearly the Lakers were caught looking down the road. Forget Bynum’s comment on close-out games, the last loss has equal blame to be spread around for all members of the team.
At this point there is no need to remind anyone what is at stake. The Lakers are a veteran group whose core has been there and done that in big games. That experience had better shine through tonight otherwise its back to Los Angeles for a Game 7 coin flip to determine the season. That is good for television drama but bad for a team in need of rest, recovery and most important momentum.