I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure this happened right before tip-off:
Stern: Bavetta, can you see?
Bavetta: Not since I kissed Barkley.
Stern: I need you to do something for me again tonight.
Bavetta: Are we in Cleveland?
Stern: No, but don’t worry, I have game 2 covered. Howard will foul out during pregame warm-ups.
Bavetta: Will you release my family?
Stern: After the Finals Dick, after the Finals.
Bavetta: My wife AND my kids!?
Stern: Denver wins tonight, make it happen.
Bavetta: But I can’t see?
Stern: Exactly Dick, that’s why we chose you. You know what to do.
Only Jeanie Buss saw less of last night’s game than Dick Bavetta. In between twitter updates on her friend annoying Adam Levine from Maroon 5 and Will Ferrell near the Lakers bench, Dick Bavetta was busy staggering around the court pretending like he was not on the Mayflower when it shored up in America for the first time. You know the Lakers were jobbed when Laker-hating ESPN analyst Bill Simmons said, “They (Lakers) blew Game 2 thanks to some typically brutal officiating in a league that’s slowly becoming defined by its typically brutal officiating.”
I think we can all agree that the officiating down the stretch last night was suspect at very best, if not completely appalling. I’d assume we can also agree that Derek Fisher didn’t help things. During what may have been the worst two minute stretch of his career, he missed three “what the hell are you doing” layups, single-handedly killing the Lakers momentum at the end of the 3rd quarter. I love D-Fish, but he pulled a Smush Parker on all of us last night.
Now that we got all the excuses for last night’s loss out of the way, let’s take a look at why we actually lost the game.
After a pair of Kobe free throws with 2:40 to go in the first half, the Lakers were in complete control with a 53-40 lead. To that point, Melo was cold. Denver was lifeless. The crowd was awake. Then, this happened:
Kleiza wide-open 3.
Billups wide-open 3.
4 straight free-throws.
During that Nuggets 14-2 run, the Lakers went 1/5 from the floor and committed three fouls. A 13-point lead all but evaporated, the energy was sucked out of the building and most importantly, the Nuggets made up for an awful first half in just two minutes and some change. The story of game 2 is no different than what we have talked about all season long: The Lakers marked inability to play with a lead.
After 96 games in the books, we can only come to one conclusion: This is who the Lakers are. There is no magical formula or remedy to suddenly reconstruct their DNA. We can analyze and dissect the psychology of it all we want, but here’s the only thing that matters: We need to win seven more games. If the Lakers can find a way to get the job done, history will speak kindly of this Lakers’ team. If not, well…
That’s a column I never intend to write.
Jason Riley is a columnist for the Lakers Nation. In addition to this column, he writes on an array of topics that you can check out by visiting J-Ri.com. You can email him by clicking here, look him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter for in-game coverage.