Inactives for Today’s Game:
Nuggets: Taurean Green, Bobby Jones
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Trevor Ariza, Coby Karl
10:59 Radmanovic gets the Lakers on the board first, taking the nice pass and laying it in off glass. Both teams look focused early on, with two full out dive-and-scramble to the floor plays in the opening minute alone. Two Denver starters have also picked up early fouls, with Anthony and Martin tallying one a piece.
9:52 Walton replaces Vladi in the Lakers lineup after the forward picked up his first foul.
7:57 Odom makes an incredible pass to a streaking Gasol who hammers it home and gets the sold out STAPLES Center crowd off of their feet for the first time tonight. Although Odom hasn’t scored yet himself, he has been extremely aggressive on both ends of the floor to open up the game. Based on his tremendous playoff series the past two years, no one should be surprised.
5:47 Exceptional passing inside once again from the Lakers, with Walton’s outstanding pass leading to a breakaway dunk for Lamar. On the Lakers’ next possession, Luke found Gasol whose spinning hook shot has given the Lakers their largest lead of the night at 15-9 heading into a Nuggets timeout. Pau leads the team with four points, two rebounds and two assists.
4:59 Since coming in for Radmanovic, Walton has been a huge X-factor for the Lakers with four points and two assists. The latest bucket comes after he effectively used his size advantage to back down Klieza to give the Lakers a 19-11 lead.
3:04 In what’s been the theme of the first quarter, Kobe makes a great pass inside that leads to another uncontested dunk for Gasol–his team leading eighth point. The Lakers have dominated Denver on both ends of the floor, especially on the defensive end where they’ve held the league’s second highest scoring offense to just 13 points three quarters of the way through the first quarter.
2:47 Farmar enters the game, replacing Fisher in the Lakers’ lineup.
1:48 As Carmelo steps up the line for two, the STAPLES Center crowd greets him with a boisterous “DUI” chant in light of recent allegations involving the Nuggets star. In case this series didn’t have enough bad blood to begin with, it certainly does now.
12:00 Bench Mob enforcements enter the game in the form of Ronny Turiaf, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar, along with Vladimir Radmanovic and Lamar Odom (the lone holdover from the first quarter). Assistant Coach Jim Cleamons mentioned the bench’s ability to sustain and extend leads as one of the keys to the series. They enter now with a four point lead.
10:28 The Lakers try to trap Iverson as he brings the ball up, which doesn’t work out at all and leads to an easy dunk on the other end for Denver. As far as easy baskets go that’s only the second one the Nuggets have gotten today–a good sign for the home team.
9:43 Kobe enters for Radman. The bench group was -2 on that go around. 30-28 Lakers.
8:40 Phil calls a timeout after two quick three pointers by Kleiza give the Lakers a 34-30 lead. This is the kind of situation that makes the Nuggets such a dangerous team, they can ignite at any time and shoot the lights out. Normally Jackson doesn’t call timeouts with such urgency, but cooling the opposing team’s momentum is a priority in this series. Pau and Luke are back in to go along with Jordan, Sasha, and Kobe.
4:51 With Denver choosing to double Kobe on the quick every time he touches the ball it’s vital that someone like Luke Walton steps up and starts making the open threes that are going to come his way all day. Those easy baskets for the Nuggets that I mentioned earlier… we’re not going to just add to the total, we’re going to start multiplying. The Lakers effort on the defensive end has weakened as the Nuggets transition offense has picked up and exploited the Lakers D. 47-40 Denver.
2:51 A questionable call gets Phil Jackson out of his seat to plead the case with Kobe and Fish. The replay shows that it was a pretty ticky tack call, but none of the Lakers argue too hard for it, even though it gives Kobe his third on the day. It’ll be interesting to see how Kobe’s game within the game with the refs goes now that he’s got a clean slate of technical fouls to use. Lakers down just one point (49-48) with AI going to the line.
0:51 Gasol scores the Lakers sixth consecutive point and pushes the lead back the Lakers way at 56-55. Gasol has been the recipient of a couple beautiful passes from Lamar Odom, who continues to play his best basketball when it matters (the past couple playoff series have been stellar for him). Kobe takes a seat to end the half and not pick up a fourth foul.
A flurry of hands ends is Sasha blocking Najera’s shots and sending us to the break with the home team up 58-56. Pau Gasol’s 18 first half points on a staggering 8-11 shooting makes him the star of the first half (and earns him some Michelle Tafoya time on ABC), but the contributions of Lamar Odom cannot be overlooked. 9 points, 9 boards, and 3 assists pay tribute to his overall game, but the little things he’s done on both ends have kept the Lakers afloat among a subpar Kobe Bryant first half (1/9 shooting for 4 points and 3 fouls). The fact that Lakers have a lead while getting that little out of #24 should give Laker fans a warm feeling as it’s not like the Bean to put up back-to-back performances like that.
10:40 Gasol continues his strong play, scoring the first two baskets of the half for the Lakers, the last coming on a two-handed dunk on the offensive rebound. Gasol leads both teams with 22 points and is second on the Lakers with 9 rebounds.
9:50 Carter is assessed a technical foul after fouling Kobe on a breakaway and giving him an extra shove as #24 flew out of bounds. Bryant makes the free throw to give L.A. a seven point lead at 65-58.
8:25 Even with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby inside, the Nuggets have had absolutely no answer for Pau as the Lakers center breaks loose for yet another uncontested layup to boost his total on the game to 26 points. With 10 boards and five assists, Gasol is only five dimes away from a triple double in what has already been a stellar playoff debut for the center.
7:19 Kobe picks up his costly fourth personal foul after swatting at Anthony’s long range jumper. Jackson is taking the gamble and leaving his superstar in the game for now though.
6:45 Kobe heads to the line for an and one after hitting a seemingly impossible jumper from just behind the free throw line. Although he’s playing with four fouls, it doesn’t look like that’s hindering his aggression level one bit. With the make, Bryant finally joins Gasol, Odom and Walton in double figures with 12 points.
5:11 Vujacic and Farmar enter the game for the first time this half, replacing Bryant and Fisher.
4:55 Radmanovic’s rainbow three from the corner gives the Lakers their largest lead of the night, 81-67. With the trey, Vladi picks up his third, fourth and fifth points of the night on three of five shooting from the field.
2:44 Gasol flies through the lane for a towering dunk that gives the Lakers an 87-73 lead in what’s dangerously close to becoming a rout. The dunk was the second in a row from Pau, bumping his total on the game to a team-high 32.
55.2 Pau breaks loose yet again, notching another uncontested layup for his 34th point. More importantly, the Lakers lead is up to an impressive 19 points at 94-75 in a quarter that the Lakers have absolutely dominated the Nuggets.
11:24 J.R. Smith just got called for a flagrant foul after throwing Walton to the ground on the forward’s layup attempt. After two makes from the line, the Lakers lead 99-80. Walton is tied with Kobe for second on the team in scoring with 14.
9:28 After a mad scramble for the loose ball, Farmar picks it up and launches a pass to a streaking Walton who slams home the Lakers’ 101st point of the night to go against 88 points from Denver. Luke has 16 points to add to his four assists and three rebounds.
7:58 Kobe continues to improve on his uncharacteristically poor first half, throwing up a three that hits nothing but net. On the Lakers’ next possession, Kobe weaved his way through the lane for an uncontested layup for his 19th point–15 of which have come in the second half.
7:03 Just as it looked like he was beginning to heat up, Kobe picks his fifth personal foul, immediately sending Lamar into the game to replace him. A mini surge by Denver has brought them to within 11 at 106-95.
5:42 Kobe and his 5 personals are back in the game for the stretch run with the Lakers leading 109-96 with just about half of the final quarter remaining.
4:30 Since he returned to the floor a little more than a minute ago, Kobe has been in scorers mode, drawing consecutive fouls on the Nuggets en route to making three of four free throws. After the play, it looks like Bryant was jawing a little too much with Martin though as both were assessed technical fouls.
2:37 Gasol throws a perfect pass high above the rim to a soaring Kobe who throws it down for a vicious two-handed dunk to likely ice the game for the Lakers with the purple and gold leading 118-107 with two minutes to go. After the play, the Nuggets call timeout and Iverson has some magic words for the officials who promptly threw him out of the game.
1:33 Vujacic replaces Kobe who goes out to a nice ovation with the Lakers up 122-111. Bryant finishes with 32 points on 9-26 from the field.
FINAL SCORE: Nuggets 114, Lakers 128