Kobe Bryant seemed to leave us during the fourth quarter, and the Black Mamba took his place. Whether it was hitting Trevor Ariza for the wide open three or nailing the 24-foot three pointer in the face of JR Smith, Mamba was on his game in the final period. His 13 points led the Los Angeles Lakers back from the 79-71 deficit they faced coming into the last 12 minutes of play, to give them a 103-97 victory.
Just like Game 2, both teams played very similar games. LA and Denver each made 33 field goals and grabbed 43 rebounds. LA made six three-pointers compared to Denver’s five. The Lakers had 12 turnovers and the Nuggets had 11. LA had 14 points off turnovers and Denver had 13. And so on and so forth.
The Lakers would have won this game by double digits had they been able to hit shots from the free throw line. LA was a horrid 31-of-45 from the stripe, while the Nuggets only missed five free throw attempts.
Kobe Bryant continues to lead this Laker team to victory. Bryant finished with 41 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the field while going 15-for-17 from the line. During the fourth quarter, Kobe simply would not give the ball up when he knew he needed to score. He took the jumpers he is accustomed to when he was guarded by just one Nugget and he made the right play when Denver tried to double-team him. Bryant didn’t just score, though. He added six rebounds, five assists and two steals in 41 minutes of play. Another Mamba night in Game 4 and Kobe can play a little slower when the series returns to Los Angeles, which is something he needs to do because of his fatigue.
Another game, another amazing play from Trevor Ariza on an inbounds pass. With 36 seconds to go, the Lakers led Denver by the score of 97-95. The Nuggets had just taken a 20-second timeout after failing to get the ball in on the previous attempt, so it would seem like they had a set play this time around. Instead, Kenyon Martin threw a lazy pass to Carmelo Anthony, which Anthony touched for a second before Ariza came and snatched it away from him. Carmelo had to foul Ariza to prevent the breakaway slam, so Melo’ was sent to the bench with six fouls. Ariza hit both of his free throws to make it a two possession game. How about this guy? I will have more about his development in another post, but his game tonight was spectacular. Trevor had 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Ariza has now proven to Kobe that he can shoot the ball from the perimeter, and now Bryant doesn’t hesitate to get him the rock. Ariza was 3-for-5 from deep. It didn’t look good for Trevor when he came down awkwardly on a lay-up attempt during the third quarter. At one point, Ariza went to the locker room with one of the team trainers. This game surely would have turned out differently had Trevor stayed there.
Pau Gasol made some key shots down the stretch to help form one of his better performances of the playoffs. Gasol had 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, knocking down tough jumpers and even getting to the rim when the Denver bigs gave him space to make his first step towards to the hoop. His 11 rebounds are a good sign of his activity in the post. Although he did concede a few easy lay-ins and dunks to Nene and Chris Anderesen, but I would not be disappointed with a similar performance in Game 4.
It wasn’t a terrible night for Andrew Bynum. His offensive game wasn’t what it normally is because of a lack of touches, but his defensive intensity was there. Bynum had just seven points, four rebounds and three blocks. Andrew is showing that he will alter Carmelo’s shots if he comes into the lane and he isn’t afraid to take the foul to get the block. Speaking of fouls, that is probably the only thing left for him to solve to get out of his slump. He had three fouls in 21 minutes.
Luke Walton had zero points, but his effect on the team was much more important that that. He came into the game when Trevor Ariza was hurt and made an impact by drawing fouls and creating opportunities for Kobe.
Lamar Odom had a good 30 minutes of play off the bench. He dominated Linas Kleiza when he was matched-up against him and that led to eight easy points. His seven rebounds were impressive, but the fact that four of them were on the offensive glass was even more impressive.
Jordan Farmar played a pretty poor 14 minutes. He had just two points and three turnovers. I still think that Shannon Brown should be getting more playing time. Brown can cut to the hoop to get the Nugs’ bigs in foul trouble, and it alleviates the need for Bryant to create on every play. Shannon had two points and a block in just eight minutes of play.
The starting point guard, Derek Fisher, had a solid game. He didn’t get many shots off, but his three rebounds, three steals and two assists showed some signs of activity.
Ok now, quiet down and listen. Here those crickets? Yeah, that’s the sound of people who actually thought Carmelo Anthony was a premier player in the NBA. Melo’ had just 21 points on 4-of-13 shooting. He fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter and had more turnovers that assists(4:3). Had it not been for some questionable calls he got when he drove to the hoop, Melo would have had 9 points. But because of his 12 free throws, his points made him look like a solid role player.
Chauncey Billups flirted with a triple double, scoring 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting, while accumulating seven assists and six rebounds.
Is it possible that JR Smith is just bad at basketball? Getting destroyed by Kobe on the defensive end and shooting 2-of-1o from deep sounds like a scrub. It doesn’t help when you yell at an opposing player after hitting a routine shot.
Not a good night when your best player is Chris Andersen. The former drug addict and deadbeat dad had 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Lakers will look to take a commanding three games to one lead Monday night in Denver. Remember WWE fans, Monday Night Raw will be in LA instead of Denver.