Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 3 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Nuggets: Sonny Weems, Steven Hunter
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: Billups, Jones, Anthony, Martin and Nene
Phil Jackson Pregame
Phil said he talked to Andrew Bynum after practice yesterday, explaining that eight minutes is the maximum he can play at full speed. Basically, Jackson is suggesting that Bynum’s activity level dwindles if he plays too many minutes. “We’re trying to monitor his level of conditioning,” he said. “If I see an opportunity to use him, I will … I don’t have any trouble with Andrew. We sit next to each other in the film room (and discuss things).” Jackson also noted that Derek Fisher hasn’t been a problem defensively, as he’s spent little time on Chauncey Billups, and said that Lamar Odom didn’t find a comfort zone in Game 2 as a rebounder or transition operator.
George Karl Pregame
Karl said the difference between his Nuggets at home and on the road is that the fans help with defensive intensity, and that they don’t have to rely on their stars as much since at least two role players seem to step up various portions of their game (3-point shooting in particular). He also talked about Carmelo Anthony getting out of the First Round having really helped his confidence, and how much his perimeter jumper has improved.
Adam Morrison: Video Game King
In news completely unrelated to and irrelevant for Saturday’s game, as I “tweeted” this afternoon, Adam Morrison is the best FIFA Soccer video game player I’ve ever seen. He deserves ample respect, though he is challenged by Luke Walton … who “completely copied my game,” according to Morrison. Walton also competes well in NCAA Football ’09 with Jordan Farmar, while Farmar adds NBA 2K9 to his arsenal. Lakers.com will take its shot at Farmar on Sunday afternoon, and we’ll let you know how it goes.
12:00 Denver’s fans set a new 2008-09 season record for “Most Disparaging Remarks About an Opponent” during pauses in the National Anthem. In other game ops news, Houston’s intro was much, much better, but the Pepsi Center faithful are certainly amped.
11:33 Which two players were being chastised for 48 hours? Bynum and Fish … Who opened with a block and a deep jumper, respectively, for L.A.
9:07 The game started to look like Game 2′s final five minutes, with ten consecutive free throws taken. Denver hit 5-of-6, Fisher missed two and Bryant made two as Denver led 9-6. Meanwhile, neither Bynum nor Gasol had touched the ball in the paint on five offensive possessions.
7:48 L.A. finally got the idea by posting Bynum and Gasol on consecutive possessions. Bynum missed his shot, but Gasol didn’t. Bryant followed with an easy layup, then Fisher stripped Billups and fed Ariza for a 6-point-run-capping layup. L.A. 12, Denver 11.
6:06 Bynum swatted Jones for his second block, but was called for his second foul trying to block Nene on the put-back attempt, bringing Odom into the game. Bynum had two blocks, missed both his shots and didn’t grab a rebound, though Gasol grabbed three. Not a great box score, but Denver didn’t get anything easy at the rim.
4:37 The Lakers weren’t getting very good looks from their offense until Bryant found Fisher for a wide-open back door layup, but Denver hit three straight jumpers at the other end (two from Anthony) to take a 21-15 lead.
3:32 L.A. continued to give away some easy points, turning the ball over on a 3-on-1 break as Ariza lost the ball to Anthony and Fisher fouled him. ‘Melo’s free throws (bonus) put Denver up six, and after a Gasol baseline miss, Martin found Chris Andersen with a pretty behind-the-back pass to push the lead to 25-17.
2:37 Walton missed L.A.’s fourth and fifth free throws of the quarter as Denver.
0:01.7 Odom finished off a pretty spin move at the bucket, following a 20-foot jumper from Farmar (and a bad Anthony miss from three in transition) to cut Denver’s lead to just two points after one. Considering that the Lakers really didn’t play well, missed six free throws and didn’t hit a three, they’d take it.
12:00 On the floor to start the second: Farmar, Vujacic, Walton, Odom and Bynum. They opened with the alley-oop-off-a-back-pick play, but it was a bit too high for Farmar, who caught it, came down and was blocked by Anderson on a layup attempt. Anthony leaked ahead at the other end to draw Vujacic’s foul.
10:15 A poor performance from L.A.’s second unit saw the Nuggets take their biggest lead at eight points after a Farmar turnover and Andersen cut to the hoop that split right between Odom and Bynum. Denver helped out a bit by missing two layups, and Bynum did well to sprint up the floor in transition to draw a foul. He joined four other Lakers with a FT miss, however, as Bryant checked back in.
7:15 Bynum grabbed a defensive board and hit a baseline jumper to pull L.A. within five, but Andersen was allowed two layups as L.A. didn’t protect its weak side quickly enough – we’ve seen that in all three games.
4:49 Consecutive layups by Bryant quickly tied the score at 39 as Denver missed a few wide open looks. Meanwhile, Bynum grabbed three boards and scored three points in his seven second quarter minutes, but as Jackson had hinted towards, the young center did appear to be dragging a bit in terms of getting up and down the floor.
3:22 Linas Kleiza, who killed L.A. in Game 2′s second quarter, hit his first three to put Denver up five … But Gasol answered with a gliding dunk. Despite not being able to execute well in its offense, L.A.’s hanging tough. By the way, Fisher hadn’t yet seen burn in the quarter until checking in with 2:21 left.
0:25.9 A breakaway dunk from Kleiza was almost fitting, since the Lakers really seemed to have heavy legs all half … But Ariza came back with a triple, and Bryant hit a technical free throw when Kleiza tried to push Gasol from behind. That cut an 8-point lead in half heading into the break, which the Lakers would have to take.
They shot 47.5 percent to Denver’s 40.5, helping mask the energy difference, though like Denver the Lakers made only one 3-pointer. Carmelo Anthony quite easily scored 18 points, while Kobe Bryant had to work for his 15. Somehow, Chris Andersen scored 13 points off the bench to set a new playoff career high in just a half, while Lamar Odom pitched in five of L.A.’s nine bench points.
11:47 Gotta like that if you’re L.A.: An immediate post feed to Bynum, who easily dropped it in. That preceded a Bryant steal and resulting layup, and the Lakers had tied the score in just over 30 seconds.
10:17 The Lakers, however, then had two poor offensive possessions, with Bryant pulling up early in the shot clock (miss) and Bynum having to drive the ball to the hoop with the shot clock dwindling. Denver capitalized with hoops off both misses to go back up four.
8:32 Bryant’s three, thanks to a nice pass out of a trap from Fisher, preceded a Bynum swat of Anthony to give L.A. the ball down four after Denver. Gasol then earned an open three for Fisher that could have cut the lead to one, but Fish just couldn’t find it.
5:40 Nene’s fourth foul sent him to the bench as Bynum hit 1-of-2 free throws, then nicely found Gasol cutting to the hoop for two more, which had Denver up 64-61.
4:45 Bryant caught a great Walton alley-oop pass after Luke had drawn a hooking foul on Anthony at the other end. His free throw (on Jones’ foul) tied the score at 64, and Anthony had yet to score in the quarter.
3:19 As Gasol went back to the line, note that Odom had yet to check in while Fisher remained in the game as well. Gasol’s 1-of-2 meant L.A. was 17-of-28 from the line.
1:54 Smith’s first scoring contribution of the game after 0-for-6 was a three, though it was more like a two since Carter got a technical and Bryant hit the FT.
1:01 L.A. got beat to the rebound twice on the same possession, allowing Andersen a layup, but Vujacic finally buried a three to make it 73-71…
0:40.0 … Too bad for L.A. that Billups answered with a triple of his own…
0:00 … Then another triple, again from Smith, as time expired. That 6-0 run put Denver up eight heading into the fourth, but L.A. would be shooting a tech as Smith taunted Vujacic after hitting the three over him.
11:15 Odom up-faked Andersen and laid in for the first bucket of the quarter. After starting the fourth at -11, L.A. would certainly need a firing-on-all-cylinders Lamar to keep cutting into the lead.
9:14 Some pretty passing from the Lakers got a one-handed tomahawk for Gasol, who then contested a Nene shot and boxed him out to produce the Brazilian’s 5th foul. L.A., with the ball, trailed by four.
8:41 Gasol’s two free throws after Andersen’s foul cut Denver’s lead back to two at 80-78. Pau was certainly looking fresher than he did in Game 2′s fourth quarter, and you can thank 21 minutes from Bynum for that.
7:31 Ariza’s three capped a 10-2 Lakers run to start the fourth, giving the visitors an 81-80 lead that made the crowd pretty nervous.
5:11 Another big three from Ariza again gave L.A. a 1-point lead … For about 10 seconds, since Billups responded with a triple plus the foul to put the Nuggets up three.
3:51 How tough were the last two turnaround hoops by Gasol over Nene? Oh wait, you may not have seen them … Let’s say 9-of-10 on the tough scale.
2:07 As good as the Gasol-Bryant plays were, an off-ball foul on the cold Anthony (2 FTs) and a Fisher charge were pretty tough.
1:46 Odom made 1-of-2 FTs to tie the game, but Smith countered with a pull-up jumper.
1:10 Bryant (excuse me, Mamba) stuck a 24-foot stand-still 3-pointer out of rhythm to put the Lakers up a point. Wow. Just ridiculous.
0:55.9 Big defensive board from Gasol.
0:38.3 Bryant got Smith to reach in on the baseline, resulting in two free throws, and quite surprisingly, he missed the second. That’s the 14th missed FT for L.A.
0:35.5 Ariza with the steal, again! Off the inbounds, again. That’s amazing, and he stuck both free throws.
0:24.6 Nice play from Billups to draw the foul on Odom, trying to get out to contest a three. Billups hit both, and L.A. led 99-97. It’s going to be a free throw contest.
0:12.4 Bryant, back to the line after Billups missed a three (with Bryant contesting), hit two more to get to 41 points and give L.A. a 6-point lead.
Denver would miss two more threes, and the Lakers had stolen home court back. What a second-half performance from the Lakers, and boy, is Kobe Bryant fantastic.