The Lakers rode Pau Gasol’s monster 36 point, 16 rebound effort in his first playoff game in the purple and gold to a 128-114 victory over the Nuggets. The Lakers did much of their damage in a 39 point third quarter in which they outscored Denver by 17. Despite scoring 32 points, Kobe Bryant had a dismal game by his standards, shooting only 9-26 from the field with only 4 points coming in the first half.
“We had to go away from Kobe today,” said Coach Jackson after the game. “Kobe ended up with 32 points, but he was not a factor in establishing our lead. It was getting the ball inside and taking advantage of what they gave us.”
Jackson said he credits Gasol and Odom’s muscle inside in helping the Lakers create what was a 19 point lead toward the end of the third quarter.
“I think it was our interior game, early, late in the third quarter,” said Jackson. “It helped us establish at least some rhythm in this game and some opportunities that were easy for us. Pau was the recipient of a lot of them, but I thought he made good passes, Lamar made good passes.”
“He played a great game for us today,” said Jackson about Pau’s playoff debut with the Lakers. Jackson said that he needed all of Gasol’s 44 minutes since Ronny Turiaf was feeling under the weather entering the game.
The Lakers bench scored 32 points, led by a solid 16 point performance by Luke Walton who was forced into the game after starting small forward Vladimir Radmanovic picked up his third personal foul in the second quarter.
Looking ahead to Game 2 in the best of seven series, Jackson said, “It’s good. It’s important. Our job remains to win the game at home on Wednesday night and establish some momentum in this series and put them in a desperate situation going home and having to win.”