Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary – Game 5

57543528Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 5 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.

Game 1
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 19, 2009
Lakers 105, Nuggets 103: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 21, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 106: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 23, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 97: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 25, 2009
Lakers 101, Nuggets 120: Postgame

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
Jackson was first asked his reaction the receiving a $25,000 fine from the NBA, and he said this: “Parking tickets still bother me.” Then he was asked about Andrew Bynum’s slight increase in minutes: “Some of it is about the game getting in a 10, 12-point situation, and Pau needed the rest. (Bynum’s) perfectly capable of scoring in there, but Andrew still has an activity level that he knows he has to pick up in this series where he’s rebounding and (active) on the defensive end.” Finally, when asked if he were “planting seeds” by addressing the referee situation, Jackson said that he was a “gardener.”

George Karl Pregame
Karl was, once again, full of nothing but jokes for the first three minutes of his press conference before being asked if his CBA coaching experience helped him on the big stage (yes). “I think really good coaches in the NBA feel a problem before it happens,” he said. He also addressed Carmelo Anthony’s struggles, but primarily is concerned with his team matching the effort level they’d brought throughout the series.

Big Time
While Kobe Bryant is always the straw that stirs L.A.’s drink, keep an eye out for L.A.’s early work on the boards, particularly from Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and later Lamar Odom. The Lakers bigs saw Denver outrebound their team 58-40 in Game 4, and don’t think for a second that didn’t come up in the film room. Controlling the boards may well control the game, and L.A. is well aware. The good news for the Lakers is that in any game they’ve really HAD to win this season, they’ve brought the defensive and rebounding noise, so the precedent is there.

57543476First Quarter
12:00 Tyrese Gibson was solid on the National Anthem, though I think it’d be cool if Optimus Prime handled it.

11:40 Fisher missed a wide open triple, and Billups sank one … Then Bynum missed a shot in the lane before fouling Jones hard at the hoop. Jones missed the first, but Denver jumped out 4-0. On ESPN, Jeff Van Gundy said he thought Jones should have been suspended for the trip on Bryant that was turned into a Flagrant Type 1 foul by the league.

8:50 The Nuggets had yet to miss from the field (4-of-4), but Bryant and Fisher stuck jumpers to make it 10-6 for the visitors. More disconcerting than Denver’s perfect shooting percentage was that they were getting some really good looks.

7:10 Bryant fed Bynum for an alley-oop dunk out of a timeout. That’s what you’d call a good inbounds play. Then at the other end, Bynum contested a Jones’ miss, Gasol picked Jones in the backcourt and Bryant went straight to the hole to draw a foul. Four quick points.

5:32 Well, that was more like what we expected; After that sequence, four more points capped an 8-0, highlighted by a nasty spin move and two-handed dunk over Nene from Bynum. Fisher also hit his second jumper of the quarter, and got real low for some (low) fives from the bench when George Karl called time out.

4:46 Gasol’s put back followed a Nene tip, and Fisher countered an Anthony layup (which drew Bynum’s second foul) for his third make in four attempts to make it 18-15 L.A.

2:23 Billups picked up his second foul with the score knotted at 21, and had to go to the bench in favor of Anthony Carter. L.A. immediately posted Bryant on A.C., which earned Odom a baseline hook that rattled in.

0:13.9 A great defensive possession that included a block each from Odom and Gasol still resulted in a Denver bucket as Carter gathered with the shot clock expiring. On the other end, Andersen made a great play to block an Odom dunk attempt, and the score stayed tied at 25 after one.

57543686Second Quarter
12:00 L.A.’s second unit to start the quarter: Farmar, Vujacic, Walton, Odom and Gasol. Denver had the edge early, getting jumpers from Martin and Anthony to go up four.

8:54 Though the Lakers missed two more wide open threes (Vujacic and Farmar) to start 0-for-6, Odom was looking like a different player from the Game 4 injury-plagued version. His aggression got him back to the rim, this time drawing a foul on Kleiza, but he missed 1-of-2 free throws as Denver led 31-29.

6:22 Bynum continued to play well, shutting down a Nene drive attempt, then finding Walton all alone under the rim for a layup, and minutes later drawing a foul in the paint to get two free throws, one of which he made. A possession later, he scored on the baseline, and had seven points in 11 minutes.

4:28 The Bynum resurgence continued thanks to a beautiful Gasol pass, and L.A. led 40-38 as the young center got to a team-high nine points.

2:33 Bryant’s two free throws tied the game at 44, and how about this stat: Bryant and Gasol had only two combined field goals as Bynum and Fisher combined for eight. Bryant then answered a quick 5-0 Nuggets push with an and-1 at the rim to make it a two-point game again.

0:50.1 Odom set up a four-point possession by himself, first feeding Gasol for a dunk plus the harm, then grabbing Pau’s miss and sticking it back. His activity level was terrific when compared to his earlier-series efforts, signifying either an improved back or a complete dismissal of its existence. His line: eight points, six boards, two assists and two blocks, plus another play on an inbounds pass to get the ball back for L.A. to set up a final shot.

0:03.5 Odom’s play paid off big for the Lakers, who got a corner three from Vujacic after Bryant drew three defenders in the lane. That play was very similar to the half-ending play of Game 1, when Bryant kicked out to the opposite corner for a Fisher lead. The only difference was Fisher’s three put L.A. up one, and Vujacic’s tied it at 56. Still, that’s a big mental boost for a squad.

Denver made 20-of-42 from the field (47.6 percent), including 4-of-10 from three), while L.A. shot 22-of-47 (46.8 percent) but made just that final three from Vujacic. The Lakers, however, won the battle of the paint 32-22.

57543693Third Quarter
11:20 Anthony’s ankle sure hasn’t bothered him today, which he emphasized by making a triple when Ariza went under a screen to get to 17 points. But Bryant didn’t allow any momentum to build as he skied high for a big alley-oop from Fisher.

9:12 Kobe’s first pull-up in the game was a swish over Jones to make it 63-62 Nuggets, but Denver responded with back-to-back 2-point possessions to take a 5-point lead. It’s just not going to be easy for the Lakers tonight, they’ll have to earn it…

7:37 Especially when conceding offensive boards on a free throw, which Gasol did as Andersen slid beneath him. That allowed Anthony a venture into the lane, which he made plus the foul on Fisher to take a 7-point lead. To make matters worse for L.A., Bynum followed with an offensive foul (his fourth), and the Lakers had already put Denver in the bonus.

5:50 Gasol made a really solid block of Jones, whose leaping attempt would have negated the Spaniard’s dunk on the previous possession, but newly-checked-in Shannon Brown missed an open corner three that would have cut Denver’s lead to two. L.A. was 1-of-10 from three.

5:12 Jones’ tip in put Denver up by seven to match its biggest lead.

4:17 Shannon Brown hung in the air for a good four seconds before throwing down, hard, on Andersen, who’d totaled four blocks to that point. On the previous possession, Brown had cut to the rim and put in a pretty Bryant pass (five assists) out of a double team.

3:30 Odom. For three. It was a big shot from a guy who wasn’t in offensive rhythm to tie the game, capping a 7-0 run and igniting the STAPLES Center. Meanwhile, defensively, Brown’s activity on Billups was a big spark in two straight turnovers.

2:07 Billups hit a three to stop the run, but Bryant answered with one of his own to tie it again.

0:32.3 Odom’s been all over the glass, grabbing two straight defensive boards to get to seven on the evening alongside 11 points, three blocks and three assists. Offensively, both teams missed their final attempts at a bucket, and the score remained tied going into the fourth. That’s better news for L.A. than Denver, who’d had a 7-point lead with 5:12 remaining.

57543746Fourth Quarter
10:55 The Lakers struck first in the fourth, with Gasol scoring over Andersen in the lane for L.A.’s first lead of the second half.

9:43 Odom avenged Andersen’s earlier block of him by throwing the ball down with serious force on the Birdman, plus the foul, to give L.A. an 81-76 lead. Meanwhile, Brown and Andersen were given double technicals.

9:24 Odom, again, this time near the rim after posting up Anthony. He then cleared a defensive board, and pushed the ball to Bryant, who took a hard foul from ‘Melo before hitting two free throws.

8:13 Brown’s end-of-shot-clock fadeaway (wow) meant L.A. had scored the first 11 points of the quarter. Denver had led 71-64, an 18-point turnaround before Anthony finally hit two free throws to make it 87-78 Lakers.

7:03 Double-teaming Bryant aggressively near midcourt to get the ball out of his hands hurt Denver once again, as Gasol earned two free throws and made them to put L.A. up 10 after Kleiza hit a three.

4:58 The Lakers turned the ball over twice, but Denver got just a bucket back in a 2-minute span to make it 91-83. Meanwhile, Ariza returned for Walton, who was effective, and Kleiza drew a foul and hit both free throws to make it a 6-point game.

4:31 Bryant thought he was fouled, but was instead stripped, and Anthony dunked at the other end to cut the lead from 10 down to just four.

4:02 L.A. went to Gasol, who drew a foul on Nene that could have gone either way, getting to the line and fouling Nene out at the same time. Gasol hit both, and Fisher replaced Brown for the stretch run.

3:38 A critical answer to Anthony’s two free throws came from Ariza, who took a hand off from Gasol and finished plus the harm to put L.A. up 7.

2:24 After Gasol’s fifth swat of the game, Odom missed two free throws, but responded with a block of Martin at the other end. As the refs continued to let both teams play, Gasol was blocked by K-Mart, and Anthony by Ariza at the other end. So, if you’re counting, that’s four blocks in less than a minute.

2:24 It’s always good to have Jack Nicholson to anchor “Hollywood Nights,” getting the crowd into a frenzy after the final TV timeout.

1:57 The Nuggets could barely make a shot in the fourth, as Smith missed an open three in transition. But Fisher missed at the other end, and Anthony responded with a driving layup to cut the lead to five.

1:02 It’s fitting that Bryant found Odom for the dagger layup, plus the foul, that put L.A. up eight and the game out of reach. It was the eighth assist for Bryant, and capped a fantastic game for Odom: 19 points, 14 boards, three assists and four blocks.

0:37.3 After an Anthony and-1, Fisher was wrapped up immediately, and the veteran made both to make it 103-94. That would be the final margin for the Lakers, who’d earned themselves a 3-2 series lead.