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Predict the amount of total points and rebounds both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol get in Game 2. (Example: Points 42, Rebounds 23.)
Leave us your best guess either on our Facebook status, or in the comments section below anytime between now and tip-off (6:30pm PT, 5/16).
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It happened in the exact opposite way of what we hoped, and it was exactly as bad as we feared it would be. That the Oklahoma City Thunder swept the Dallas Mavericks in the first round and got 9 days of rest, and the Lakers had to play the full seven games to eliminate the Denver Nuggets, was there really any surprise that the younger, fresher team got the best of the older, weary one?
The Lakers started well enough, hitting six of their first seven shots, but that was as good as they got the entire game. OKC’s lead after one quarter was a manageable seven points. After the half it was, still, a manageable 15. Then the third quarter began, and faster than you can say Thunder Up, the lead ballooned to an insurmountable 35 points.
The Thunder were relentless and the Lakers were, well, they were relented. I don’t think that’s a real word but really, there are no combination of words on dictionary.com that could describe how the Lakers got murdered tonight. They were bruised and beaten to a bloody pulp.
During a huddle, with Oklahoma City’s crowd blaring in the background, Kobe Bryant tried to encourage his teammates, “They score, it’s ok. Don’t get down. Just communicate, work it out. Just go harder, that’s all. You gotta keep playing.” Maybe they were just tired. Maybe they needed to hear it from Derek Fisher. Whatever the case was, Bryant’s words didn’t go far and the Lakers were buried in the first game of the series.
It is May 14, 2012 and the (3) Los Angeles Lakers are set to battle the (2) Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at Chesapeake Arena.
The Lakers are facing an uphill battle dealing with the talented, young and rested OKC Thunder team. This second-round matchup is the first series since Pau Gasol came to L.A. that the Lakers are the underdogs.
The Lakers lost the season series to the Thunder (1-2) this season. Here is how both teams matchup.
Sessions vs. Westbrook is a matchup of two athletic veteran guards. Both bring speed and quickness, the ability to be dangerous on the pick and roll play attacking the basket or shooting from the perimeter. Sessions will have his opportunities to penetrate the painted area to set up teammates, attack the basket or score in the midrange game. All-Star guard Russell Westbrook has taken his talent to the next level by being able to use his speed and quickness to score on the perimeter, knock down mid-range shots, attack the basket and finish with the best in the league. Slowing Russell Westbrook down will have to be a team effort. Advantage -Thunder
It’s not supposed to come easily. Otherwise, what would be the point, right? After wasting two chances to close out this series with Denver, the Lakers came into a do-or-die Game 7 and reminded everyone, probably including themselves, what happens when they play with the right attitude and stick to the game plan. You know, similar to how they played 3 games ago when they went up 3-1! They couldn’t take back those two embarrassing losses, so they did exactly the only thing they could do. Carpe diem. Seize the day.
Unfortunately, Denver did the same, refusing to go away even when they got down by as much as 16 points in the third quarter. That the Lakers, this season, have made a bad habit of attaining and then giving away big leads, it wasn’t the biggest surprise that the Nuggets fell behind by such a large deficit and then took a 4-point lead to begin the final quarter.
If they’ve learned anything in this series, it’s that Denver isn’t a team who gives up, so that run 22-9 to end the third shouldn’t have surprised the home team. The Lakers didn’t allow themselves to get down for too long though, not when the Bigs were finally starting to live up to their nickname, Metta World Peace was back from serving his suspension and Steve Blake came off the benching swinging. That four-point Denver lead quickly disappeared when Blake and MWP hit two in a row from downtown. After that, the Nuggets tied the score on a handful of occasions, but it was all Lakers until the final buzzer
Its May 12, 2012 and the (3) Los Angeles Lakers find themselves with one last chance to end their series with the (6) Denver Nuggets. The hope in Los Angeles is that the Lakers have learned their lesson from failing to beat the Nuggets at home, with a three games to one advantage and momentum on their side.
The Lakers failure to make adjustments and close gave the Nuggets a new lease on life and turned what should have been a task completed into a seven-game series. The purple and gold got behind early, for the second consecutive-game, came back to get the game within reach at halftime.
Only to allow the Nuggets to extend their lead and push said lead back into double-digits in route to an embarrassing 113-96 loss. After getting literally ran off the floor, it is imperative that the Lakers rely on aggressiveness, energy and owning every possession. The Lakers are facing a 48-minute season and need to play accordingly.
The Lakers have to play hard and prove that they want it more than the Nuggets. Metta World Peace’s defense will make a huge difference. Peace’s presence will not allow the Nuggets to post up Ramon Sessions & Steve Blake as an example.
The Lakers need to make the following adjustments: 1) Laker guards have to stop getting into mismatch on the pick and roll play where a smaller player is defending a larger player. 2) Laker guards have to fight over the screen. 3) Laker perimeter defenders have to keep the Nuggets from attacking the painted area. 4) Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol must be physical, aggressive and attack the glass and the basket.
Laker fans were a little uneasy on Thursday afternoon when reports came out that Kobe Bryant missed shoot around prior to Game 6.
The official diagnosis was Gastroenteritis and Bryant was a game-time decision leading up to the game.
However, the ‘Black Mamba’ surprised no one when he suited up and gave it a go. After the game he described his situation prior to tip-off saying, “My [hotel] room resembled a scene from The Exorcist.”
Bryant fought through the stomach virus and scored 31 points on 57% shooting.
However, the Nuggets were too hot for too long as the Lakers dropped Game 6, 113-96, to force a decisive Game 7 at Staples Center on Saturday night.
Game 7 will also mark the return of Metta World Peace after serving his seven game suspension. Bryant was asked how big the return of World Peace would be to the Lakers:
“He’s one guy I can rely on, night in and night out, to compete, play hard with that sense of urgency and play with no fear,” Bryant said. “It’ll feel good to have him at my side.”
Bryant, World Peace, and the rest of the Lakers have no choice but to pull out a win on Saturday night if they want to continue their season. That game is set for 7:30 pm PST and will be televised on TNT.
QUESTION OF THE SHOW: What is your prediction for Game 7, and what Laker other than Kobe will step up in this win or go home situation?
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If the Lakers wanted to eliminate themselves from the post-season, they should have done it earlier. Get swept. Don’t tease your fans with back-to-back efforts, then waltz into Denver looking unprepared, lose big in Game 3, barely win Game 4, lose on your home court in Game 5, and then come back to Denver and get beaten to smithereens by a team who should’ve been eliminated two days ago.
When there’s a chance to eliminate a team in the playoffs, you get it done the first opportunity you get. THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY. The team who is up in the series shouldn’t be thinking of how the other team is going to play in the next game or make assumptions about the ease with which they should beat their opponent. The mindset should be on your own game, your own to-do list of things that will result in a victory, and in the Lakers’ case, in the closeout…both closeouts. But the Lakers have been a fragment of sorts when it comes to collective mindsets. The determination and hunger they possessed in their championship runs in 2009 and 2010 has left but a glimmer in the eyes of Kobe Bryant, who continues to work hard despite injuries and ailments, compensating for the lack of drive in some of his teammates…or at least two of them; the two most important ones no less (more on that later in this post)
Playing with the stomach flu, Bryant came into the game more ready to play than any of his healthy teammates, but there’s only so much he can do, Gastroentiritis or not. When the Nuggets went up 13-0 to start the game, it was obvious where this game was headed.
After going into halftime with just a 9-point deficit to overcome, Denver opened the third quarter with another run from which the Lakers could not counter. The Nuggets only outscored the Lakers by eight points in the second half, but the damage from the first two quarters certainly helped push them over the edge in the end.
Denver threw the Lakers a knockout punch in the first quarter, and though they tried to get up a few times via small runs that chipped at the lead, they eventually just tripped over their own incompetence and lost a second chance at eliminating the Nuggets and moving on to the second round. It was embarrassing, disheartening and just plain disappointing.
Kobe Bryant missed team shootaround earlier this morning at the Pepsi Center with gastroenteritis.
Despite the stomach condition, Mike Brown expects Kobe to play in tonights pivotal Game 6 in Denver: “If I were a betting guy, which I’m not, I would probably bet that he would play.”
It hasn’t been a good day for the Black Mamba, who will have to brave through some bad symtoms, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The stomach ailment kept Bryant bedridden at the Lakers’ hotel. The Lakers said they will update Bryant’s status 90 minutes before the game’s 10:30 p.m. ET start.
Kobe has a history of playing through just about anything, more so than any player in NBA history. His troubles today are already drawing comparisons (not exactly valid) to Michael Jordan’s “flu game” and his own battle through food poisoning during the 2002 NBA Playoffs in Sacramento.
Lakers/Nuggets Game 5 is set to tipoff at 7:30 PM (PDT) – L.A. leads the series 3-2.
….and Kobe Bryant’s efforts were enormous. They always are. One thing we’ve learned to appreciate about Bryant is that no matter how bad a game he’s playing, his effort is always there. His will to keep trying is always there. He’s never doing NOTHING. He may be maligned for talking trash on and off the court, but you know what? He usually backs it up.
After Andrew Bynum claimed earlier today that close-out games are easy, he walked onto the court and did nothing but make it hard for his team to win. His effort was there for the first two games, then it disappeared for the next two quarters. It reappeared for a game and a half…and then disappeared for the following three quarters. When Bynum’s efforts finally showed up in the fourth quarter of this close-out game, it was too late.
The Lakers should have entered tonight’s game with a singular goal – win and move on. Instead they came in with a lackluster effort that left their offense in disarray and their defense a porous hot mess. Denver had all the energy, all the will and all the swag. The Lakers had Kobe Bryant, and if not for him, that deficit at the end of the game would have been a lot more than three points.
Despite a 34-point effort in the final quarter, the Lakers still fell short and are now forced to head back to Pepsi Center for another crack at closing out this series.
It is May 8, 2012 and the (3) Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to end their series with the (6) Denver Nuggets. The Lakers overcame a six-point halftime deficit and outscored the Nuggets 47-37 in the second half to come away with a hard-fought 92-88 road win on 5/6/12. The Lakers played better defensively, had six players score in double-digits, and the win gave L.A. a 3-1 series advantage.
The Lakers split their two games in Denver. A win tonight and the Lakers move on to the Conference Semi-Finals where Derek Fisher and the Oklahoma City Thunder are waiting. It is imperative that the Lakers focus on beating the Nuggets tonight and not look ahead to the next series.
The Lakers can win tonight and knock the Nuggets out of the playoffs by playing well defensively, with a high energy level, executing on offense, using solid ball movement and excellent player movement to find high percentage shots. The Nuggets are doing a good job of making it difficult for the Lakers to pass the ball inside to Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol & Kobe Bryant in the post.
The Lakers ball movement and pick and roll offense are the keys to success making the Nuggets chase the ball. Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol has worn the facilitator hat on several occasions and both have displayed a great deal of trust in their teammates to knock down shots when double-teamed defensively.
The Lakers’ last two shots were a pair of three pointers from two of their point guards in the final minute of the game, and no, not one of them was named Derek Fisher (or even Kobe Bryant). Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake, holding down the backcourt in crunch time, may never be placed in the same breath as the Steve Nashes, Tony Parkers or Chris Pauls of the world, but they sure are dependable when it matters, and tonight, it mattered a whole lot.
Unlike the first three games, where one team completely dominated the other, this game was a close match throughout. There were 18 lead changes, neither team led by more than seven points and both the Lakers and Nuggets even shot the ball with the exact same field goal percentage (45.3%). Denver was fighting to stay alive in the series and the Lakers were fighting to keep them from having any hope that that would ever happen.
In the first half, the two teams kept it close, but the Nuggets were playing a better game. The Lakers shot just 44% from the field and allowed Denver to shoot 51%. No one could stop Danilo Gallinary, who led the team with 12 points after two quarters. Neither Sessions nor Blake were big enough to control Andre Miller, who scored 10 first-half points. And Kobe Bryant was having another tough shooting night (5-13 at the break). The Lakers also had 8 turnovers by halftime, which, fortunately for them, only led to nine fast break points for the Nuggets.
In the second half, the Lakers’ game on both sides of the court came alive, as did their energy. Denver’s second chance points went down, they turned the ball over more than twice as much as they did in the first half, and they just committed a series of late-game mistakes that cost them the game.
Coming off their loss in Game 3, the Lakers needed to match the energy and the effort of the Nuggets tonight before heading back home. They could not allow Denver to again take complete control of the game the way they did on Friday. The rebounds had to be anticipated, the offense needed to be more efficient, the defense needed to be more intimidating and the effort needed to be collective. They did all that tonight, and now have a commanding lead in the series.
With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.