What Went Right:
• The Lakers finally held the Nugget’s top two scorers in check in Game 3, with Carmelo Anthony only tallying 16 and Iverson putting up just 15–the first time he has failed to score at least 30 points in the series so far.
• For the third consecutive game, Luke Walton came up huge for the Lakers off the bench, scoring 15 points on 6-7 shooting from the field. On the series, Walton is averaging better than 16 points a game–a number few fans or fellow players expected out of the forward after a difficult regular season.
• Heading into the post-season, many experts across the league expressed concern over the youth of the Lakers’ bench mob. However, Walton, Farmar, Vujacic, Turiaf and Co. have answered any questions as to their preparedness, putting up another 30+ points in Game 3, compared to only 26 points from the Nuggets bench.
• Kobe Bryant continued his strong series in Game 3, this time reverting back to Kobe the facilitator after scoring a jaw-dropping 49 points in Game 2. On Sunday, Bryant toyed with the Nuggets, scoring 22 points to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds. #24 was also a team-high +21 when he was on the floor.
• Perhaps the largest factor contributing to the Game 3 blowout was the sparkling defense played by the Lakers in holding the high-scoring Nuggets to just 84 points. As a team, the Lakers had five blocked shots to go along with nine steals, led by two a piece from Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher.
• For the third straight game, L.A. refused to allow Marcus Camby to assert himself on the offensive end, holding him to 0 points, although he did grab 12 rebounds. While Camby was not one of the Nugget’s primary threats on offense during the season, he certainly was never relegated to black hole status either.
What Went Wrong:
• Even though he followed up his 36 point Game 1 effort with 18 more in Game 2, Pau Gasol hasn’t really been a factor on offense since the opening game victory. While the Lakers have done just fine without his production in this series, they’ll no doubt need him to step up his aggressiveness as the playoffs move forward.
• Kleiza has burned the Lakers with his versatility all series long, both as a reserve and now as a starter. After his 15 point, 9 rebound effort in Game 3, he should definitely have the Lakers’ full attention now if he didn’t already.
• The Lakers were outrebounded 53-39, including 10-5 in offensive boards alone. Unfortunately for Denver, their paltry 37% shooting from the floor and 25% from beyond the three point line didn’t allow them to take advantage of the massive disparity.