Nobody expected the Lakers to walk through the Nuggets in every game of this series the way they did in Game 1. Not with a seasoned coach like George Karl calling the shots and certainly not with the way Denver can control the tempo. Let’s also not act like these Lakers have been the most consistent bunch night in and night out too. That’s why the only thing more surprising than L.A. opening a 19-point lead in the third was seeing them nearly give it all back.
It took a (dare I say) Kobe-Shaq type performance from Bryant and Andrew Bynum to bury the Nuggets in an all-too-close 104-100 Game 2 W.
Both Mamba and Drew asserted themselves early with Bynum again owning the paint while Bryant buried a barrage of shots. After it was all said and done, the dynamic duo combined for 65 points on an unreal 27 of 49 shooting in helping the Lake Show in a wire-to-wire victory.
Kobe authored the moment of the night by chasing down and blocking an Al Harrington dunk attempt on a breakaway. That kind of championship effort proved infectious as Mike Brown’s bunch had to play a full 48-minutes to hold off Denver.
Every time the Lakers opened a big lead the Nuggets had an answer.
Ty Lawson shook off his dismal performance on Sunday with a 25-point, 7-assist effort. This time around Lawson and company were able to control portions of the game by playing up tempo. As usual it was balanced attack with six Nuggets putting double figures at the end of the box score.
For good measure JaVale McGee did his best Bynum blocking six shots while Danilo Gallinari finally made his first three of the series. I’m guessing we’ll see a more active and involved Gallinari at the Pepsi Center.
After tonight you can tell it’s going to be a much different series once this shifts to the Mile High City.
As we know the Lake Show has struggled on the road all year long. Tonight it took 10 fourth quarter points from Ramon Sessions to help seal the deal. Odds are that’s not the kind of production that will carry L.A. to a win in Denver. They’ll need to improve the transition defense and not give Denver any open looks. Luckily the Nuggets have yet to find their range.
One thing you can always control is effort. Tonight’s effort was truly inspired. Jordan Hill’s energy off the bench is proving vital. Even with all the bad news surrounding him the last 24-hours, Hill went out and posted another 10 rebound game. They’ll need that type of production to win on the road.
They’ll also need more from Pau Gasol. Hate to single out the Spaniard because he did so many things so well tonight including running the floor, hitting the boards and dropping some sick dimes. However the Lakers must get more than 13 points from Pau to put the Nuggets in a 3-0 hole.
But let’s not look at the lone zit on the face of the super model. A win is a win this time of year. The Lakers handled business at home and have a serious outlook going forward. Bynum looked anything but happy during his postgame interview, going as far as to say the Nuggets can’t stop him. Of course he’s right. It’s just refreshing to see him say that without any smirking or snickering. It was all poker face for Drew.
This is serious business and the Lakers are looking up for the task. To be sure Denver’s crowd will energize them and it will but to Coach Brown to get his team to stick to the game plan. Even with Kobe’s 38, Bynum’s 27 and 9 plus the clutch heroics of Sessions this was tense late. So you know the intensity is getting dialed up in Denver. L.A. won’t be able to run with the Nuggets nor can they afford to be outrebounded again as they were tonight.
Get ready, folks. This series might just be getting interesting.