The Lakers used a stellar second half surge for the second game in a row to topple the Nuggets in Game 2 of the teams’ best of seven Western Conference Quarterfinal series. Kobe Bryant led the way for the Lakers, scoring 25 points in the first half and adding another 24 after for a total of 49. Pau Gasol and Luke Walton had 18 points a piece to back up the Lakers’ superstar guard.
“Kobe–when he’s making his jump shot–is somewhat undefendable,” said an exasperated George Karl after the game.
After being bothered throughout Game 1 by Kenyon Martin’s defense, Phil Jackson said Bryant obviously entered tonight’s game with a completely different mindset.
“I would imagine if I were Kobe Bryant…he was out shooting early before practices started today getting himself revved up for tonight’s game,” said Jackson.
Jackson said that despite leading by 10 at halftime, the Lakers were not able to build on their advantage in a a back-and-forth third quarter in which the Nuggets actually took the lead at one point.
“They made a good run at us,” said Jackson. “We just didn’t get our offense going in the third quarter. We suffered the malaise of trying to figure out the zone and moving the ball too much, settling for three pointers and not getting the penetration we wanted with the ball. After they took the lead, they came back strong and we were able to play a substantial game after that.”
While the Lakers gave up well over 100 points to Denver for the second game in a row, the Lakers coach said the Lakers got stops when they needed it most.
“I think our defense stepped up a little bit at critical times,” Jackson said. “We made some threes again…I thought we finished the third quarter on a high note, answering with a three pointer in that situation.”
Although his teams are 17-0 when leading 2-0 in a best of seven series, Jackson said that the Lakers goal remains clear.
“Just do what we have to do in a situation like this when you’re playing a seven game series,” said Jackson. “You just want to maintain the home court advantage. Now we’ve put the pressure on them and we have to go back out there and try to win a game.”