Late-Series Success at STAPLES…?

Kobe and LamarAfter appearing at times sluggish in the first two games of each of their first two 2009 playoff series, the Lakers pulled things together quite impressively in their two Game 5′s and a Game 7 against Utah and Houston, respectively. In fact, all three games ended up being blowouts after the Jazz and Rockets had taken 1-of-2 from L.A. at home in Games 3 or 4.

Here’s a quick review of the late-series first and second round games in Los Angeles:

Game 5 vs. Utah – Lakers 107, Jazz 96: The Lakers led by as many as 22 points early in the fourth quarter before Utah’s subs closed the gap late. Lamar Odom was terrific with 26 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

Game 5 vs. Houston – Lakers 118, Rockets 78: After the first quarter, the home team led by 11 points. After the second, the gap was 25. One more quarter, and it was 40, the margin that would stick through the final score.

Game 7 vs. Houston – Lakers 89, Rockets 70: The Lakers absolutely smothered the Rockets defensively, opening an early lead that swelled to as many as 31 points to finally dismiss a pesky Houston squad.

Now, the question is, will the Lakers be able to continue this pattern against a Denver team that’s proven to be playing better basketball than either of L.A.’s previous opponents, and with Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza both nursing injuries? In other words, just because L.A. played very well in its building in the first two rounds doesn’t mean they’ll be able to repeat the effort against Denver, even if the evidence doesn’t hurt. In this case, to repeat their STAPLES success, the purple and gold will not only need more from Odom and Ariza – injured or not – but from the rest of the bench, who’ll be looked at to display the kind of energy shown by the Nuggets’ pine in Game 4.

For more on L.A.’s upcoming Game 5, set to tip at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, check the post practice video by CLICKING HERE.