As mentioned last time, I’m in Denver… and there’s no way I’m pulling off a full In-Game blog like at the home games, so you’ll be getting some random notes during the game. Check back for the latest.
LAKERS ADVANCE TO THE SECOND ROUND
Now it’s Nene hitting the bench with his sixth. Kobe makes both free throws. JR Smith throws up an airball. Six point lead with 12 seconds left and people are exiting en mass.
Kobe goes sailing into the Lakers huddle after slicing through the paint to give the Lakers another five point lead with just 40 seconds remaining.
Melo’s hitting the showers with 1:19 left after picking up his 6th foul. The Nuggets are left with a lineup of Camby, Nene, Kleiza, Smith, & Iverson as they try to fight back from the 101-96 disadvantage.
Kenyon out at the 2:25 mark with his 6th foul. This is the second time Martin has fouled out this series. It’s not easy guarding #24.
Luke with a HUGE three right in front of the Nuggets bench (with Anthony Carter yelling in his ear no less) forces George Karl to call a TO with 2:37 left and the Lakers leading 100-96. Denver decided to quickly double Bryant which caused Melo to switch to Gasol and left Walton all by himself in the corner.
JR Smith was one more ticky tack foul from losing his mind. Now he’s the catalyst keeping the Nuggets in this game.
7 straight Lakers points for Kobe as we get down to the four minute mark with the Lakers up by five. He wants the ball everytime down and so far he’s getting it.
Lamar has finished consecutive possessions on the floor after taking it to the rack and not getting any help from the officials. There were times in the past where a sequence like that would take Odom out of the game mentally, but Kobe is quick to pop off the bench and console #7 as we head to a timeout.
Kleiza’s hyper-extended right elbow is obviously limiting him, he’s had a terrible shooting night and has even shied away from a couple open looks.
Najera made his displeasure of Sasha known in the local papers after game three (I think the term flop was involved) and he just got victimized again.
LA shows that it’s not going to panic as it starts the lineup of Mbenga, Odom, Walton, Vujacic, & Farmar in the fourth. Saving the starters for the end game push.
After making 24 baskets in the first two quarters the Lakers only managed to connect on six of their 16 shots in the third. They also gave the ball away seven times after only three turnovers in the first half. 15-points is the fewest in the quarter for either team this series. Through all that though they still hold a 79-77 lead.
The Nuggets take their first lead of the game at 2:22.
Emotions on both sides are running high and the crowd is all the way into the game as the Nuggets close to within three at 71-68. This is the closest they’ve been since the 7:33 mark of the first quarter.
The Lakers have dominated the third quarters of this series by coming out of the locker room with superior energy. Tonight it’s the Nuggets who have come out stronger and are chopping away at the Lakers lead.
Carmelo started out guarding Kobe and quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls.
The Lakers have led the entire way. Just three turnovers. Pau with 18 (12 in the first, 6 in the second) and six boards. Kobe with 15 and six boards. Leaning on the big boys thus far.
Legit halftime shows both nights here in Denver. Saturday was the Sugarhill Gang, tonight it’s the Temptations (don’t ask me how many original members are present, I’m guessing not that many since they’re calling themselves “The Temptations Review”, but they’re still playing all the hits). Good times.
I’m not letting the Kendra thing from my pre-game posts go. Here’s visual evidence.
I’m not saying anymore, I don’t want my mansion pass revoked.
Kobe exits and Denver promptly goes on a 10-2 run to cut the LA lead to just six points. He gets back in after a very short rest.
M-V-P chants picking up, then getting drowned out by boos, but there was nothing to boo about Kobe tapping the errant Anthony Carter pass ahead to give himself an easy finish at the other end. They’ve given up a couple of way too easy buckets the last couple times down the floor, but still hold a 52-40 Lakers with 5:32 to go.
9:29pm Mountain Standard Time. That’s the moment that changed my whole school of thought on DJ Mbenga. That dunk off Kobe’s missed free throw rocked my world. I think Ronny might have just pulled a hammy celebrating.
George Karl’s decision to have Kenyon Martin guard Kobe Bryant has been questioned a lot. Having Eduardo Najera check #24 is pure insanity. I wish I knew where Stan Kroenke (the guy that owns every sports team in Colorado save the Broncos) was sitting. I wanna see how a billionare responds to a dare.
This had the makings of another low scoring Denver quarter (like the third quarters of Game 1 & 3 and the second quarter of Game 2) before the Nuggets used the free throw line to their advantage. Still, a 23-point quarter isn’t going to help the Nuggets a whole lot.
The G-Force junior dunk squad the Nuggets just rolled out between quarters is boss. Those elementary school kids were dominating the trampoline.
As mentioned in today’s Scouting Report, limiting turnovers is a key against a ballhawking, opportunistic Nuggets team. Through the first quarter the Lakers have only turned it over once.
Lakers fans brining the D-U-I chants to the Pepsi Center.
Okay so Luke said something about taking the Denver crowd out of it. They made a videoboard graphic about it.
My favorite Serbian who wears #10 is continuing his series long streak of not so good (see terrible) play with a quick 0-5 start. He did make his nine minutes interesting though, missing wide open shots from the outside, missing wide open shots from the inside, missing contested shots from everywhere. It was a potpourri of bad. Luke came in for him at the 2:07 mark, but picked up a quick three fouls and Vlad was forced to come back in.
The Pepsi Center game ops people are pulling out every inspirational movie clip in their arsenal tonight. I mean why save them for the offseason right? The latest one was I think from Rocky V. I never saw it and those clips didn’t make me regret that decision.
John Elway’s in the house… late, but he’s here. I ate breakfast at his restaurant (cleverly titled Elway’s) this morning… not bad. Thanks for the prime rib the other night too, it was delicious.
I was talking to a friend earlier today, lamenting how, although billed as possibly the best playoffs ever, only one series was tied up at 2-2. The rest were looking all but over at 3-1 (or 3-0 in the Lakers case). Well now there’s another 2-2 series. The Hawks keep pulling off the minor miracle of beating the Celtics in the playoffs. Doesn’t look like Boston’s road is going to be nearly as easy everyone was making it out to be.
After 3:15 of standing the home fans are finally allowed to sit as Melo gets the Nuggets on the board with two free throws following a Kobe foul. So far the Lakers have been moving the ball like crazy, once again getting easy shots. Denver has settled outside on all of their shots thus far.
One of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends, Kendra, brought out the gameball wearing a baby blue AI jersey. Doesn’t she live in LA? What a sellout. EDIT: I did some more research, she’s from San Diego… disappointing. Edit #2: And it says she’s a known Chargers fan, but tonight she’s kicking it with Broncos’ Cornerback Champ Bailey. I’m getting semi distraught about how this whole thing is spiraling downward.
Lots of Lakers fans in the house again today. I’d say probably more than Game 3 and we’ve still got three minutes before tip-off. When the videoboard flashed up “This is Our House” and the announcement over the loudspeaker said something disparaging about the Lakers, the gold clad fans took offense to it and gave a big ovation.
I don’t know who said it, in fact I don’t remember hearing it (although I’m sure it was said, I feel like it’s been said after every road game this year), but according to the PA guy, “The Lakers said they wanted to take the crowd out of it, but that’s not going to happen IS IT!!!”… I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but it happened in Game 3… and it happened early. Kobe made four of the first five shots of the 3rd quarter and sucked the life out of this place. The Nuggets play an exciting brand of basketball and have the talent to ignite the fans on the quick, but the Lakers aren’t the kind of team to fall into that trap.
The PA announcer is doing all he can to get people to put the shirts on and make noise, but the crowd is definitely not as fired up as they were for Game 3. I know where they’re coming from, I’m not as fired up either. A slight half smile is all I can give to the few Denver fans that heckle me. The three game separation is just too daunting.
It’s another “White-Out” attempt tonight, but instead of giving shirts out at the door, they put them on all 19,000 seats. Probably a better idea, seems like people are more apt to wear them if they are already at the seats. Sadly, no headbands for the employees and fans tonight. A couple staff members are holding strong and wearing the ones from Saturday. They look as ridiculous now as they did then.