Lakers-Nuggets Game 2 thoughts
As a Lakers fan the only word that keeps coming to my mind is “disappointment”. I keep looking for other words to describe what I saw tonight and it all keeps coming back to that one word. Game 2 was a complete reversal of game 1. Tonight it was the Nuggets that trailed by double digits and came back to even up the best of seven series at one game apiece.
Denver was once again led by Carmelo Anthony’s 34 points. Anthony is on a complete hot streak right now having scored 30 or more points for the fifth consecutive game in this years playoffs. Chauncey Billups finished with 27 points. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in scoring with 32 points. Pau Gasol finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds.
A big difference in tonight’s game was the free throw shooting in the fourth quarter. Late in the fourth quarter with the game tied, Pau Gasol missed two crucial free throws that would have given the Lakers a two point lead. The next possession on the other end, Nuggets center Nene was able to get to the line and make both of his shots from the charity stripe to give the Nuggets a two point lead. The Lakers were just 9-of-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Denver’s bench was outscored 30-16 in game 1 but tonight Linas Kleiza gave them a big lift finishing with 16 points all by himself including shooting 4-of-7 from the three point line. The rebounding seemed to be a tale of two halves. In the first half it was the Lakers who were controlling the boards and getting the extra opportunities. In the second half the momentum switched over to Denver and they were the ones who were winning the battles on the glass.
Nuggets head coach George Karl did a good job of making adjustments in the second quarter when Denver completely erased a 14 point Laker lead. LA was doing plenty of damage in the paint and getting second chance opportunities but he switched things up defensively and forced the Lakers to have to hit outside shots and the Los Angeles simply did not execute.
Tonight’s win was huge for Denver not only for the obvious reasons in that they have tied the series up 1-1 and have stolen the home court advantage away from the Lakers but it’s huge in the fact that they erased an eleven game playoff losing streak against Los Angeles. Had they gone down 2-0 in the series I think some doubt might have been able to creep in and the Lakers would have had a huge mental edge. Now it’s a best of five with three of those games being played in the mile high city. Although they are just 2-3 on the road in the playoffs, the Lakers did finish the regular season with a 29-12 record which was the best in the league so if there is a team that has the ability to go out on the road and take care of business away from home it is the Lakers. They were able to do it against Houston and they are more than capable of doing it against Denver. Personally, I’ll feel a lot better if they get that road win out of the way in game three.
There is an old saying that a playoff series doesn’t begin until the road team wins a game. Let the series begin Saturday night in Denver.