Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 6 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
Jackson was asked little about the actual game, as reporters instead focused on the referee situation before dipping into league rules from a general standpoint.
George Karl Pregame
Continuing a run of strange pregame pressers, Karl began talking about 70′s and 80′s bands about which he admittedly knew little, including calling R.E.M. “rem.” To be fair, it wasn’t his fault as several journalists prompted him. When eventually moving over to the team, Karl stated his excitement for Game 6, and said he thought Carmelo Anthony’s ankle was probably well enough to spend some time on Kobe Bryant.
12:00 Rocker Zakk Wylde played the National Anthem on his guitar … Sorry, gotta go with Flea (by a lot) on that one. Even with the PA guy doing his Detroit Pistons thing again, it was a great atmosphere in Denver, which began as Bynum won the tip over Nene.
11:25 Though Bynum missed an opening alley-oop pass, Bryant forced a Billups foul off a near-interception, and Gasol converted from the baseline to put L.A. on top. At the other end, Anthony and Martin each missed a baseline jumper.
10:15 Ariza nailed a three from his spot, which is halfway between the top of the key and the baseline on the wing.
9:01 Anthony finally scored for Denver by hitting the second of two free throws after a hard foul on Bynum.
7:17 A nice defensive play from Bynum forced a Billups miss, and Bryant went the other way to draw a hard foul on Martin. His free throws put the Lakers up 9-5 even as they’d missed a few easy offensive opportunities.
5:54 It’s fair to say that L.A. controlled the opening six minutes, a far cry from Game 4 in Denver when the Nuggets were the aggressors. Were L.A. to hit some great looks resulting from three Nuggs turnovers, it would have more than the 2-point cushion into the first time out.
2:56 The Lakers really seemed to have figured out Denver’s defense, particularly when they’re trapping, getting several good looks near the hoop including an Odom layup and Ariza dunk. Denver, meanwhile, stayed in the game by getting back-to-back threes from J.R. Smith and Billups.
1:26 After Bryant drove right past Smith for a layup, he found Odom in the paint for another easy deuce. Smith did counter with a drive past Odom, but Ariza hit from the other wing, his second hit, to put L.A. up 24-18.
0:35.0 When Bynum went to the bench, L.A. gave up two straight layups, the second to Anthony. A defensive 3-second call then earned Bryant free throw, which he made to get to seven points, three fewer than Ariza.
All-in-all, it was a very good first quarter for the Lakers, who got a little something from everybody that stepped onto the court.
10:27 Vujacic nailed a corner three to put L.A. up 30-25 … Where did he heat up? Right here.
8:50 Smith was heating up for Denver, scoring consecutive hoops to get to 11 points and give the Nuggets a 31-30 lead.
5:56 Odom’s field goal was third in 10 minutes, giving him six points with three boards off the bench as L.A. went up by a point. That the Lakers have moved the ball exceptionally can be witnessed by 10 assists on 14 field goals, led by four dimes from Bryant. Keeping Denver in the game, however, were nine Lakers turnovers, including one by Farmar heading into a TV timeout.
4:50 Fisher, whose shot has looked good for two games now, nailed a three in the corner, but Gasol committed L.A.’s 11th turnover on the team’s next offensive possession, and its 12th on the next. Still, the visitors led by six after Bryant hit two free throws.
2:01 The Lakers are very, very tough when Ariza’s nailing threes … His third put them up seven, though that didn’t keep him from getting called for his third foul at the other end. Ariza seemed to have quite a case for an Anthony push off, but instead ‘Melo went to the line in the bonus. A make up call may have come on the next possession, however, off a moving screen.
1:02 Meanwhile, Bryant drained two straight deep jumpers over Smith and Fisher found Gasol with a pretty bounce pass for a dunk that suddenly had L.A. up 50-39.
0:04.1 What a close to the half for the Lakers, punctuated by a Bryant three from the corner after Gasol’s offensive board. Just for good measure, Bryant sprinted back on defense and swatted an Anthony attempt at the buzzer to cap what was really a fantastic individual half that sparked a great half for his team. With that, L.A. turned a 33-32 deficit into a 13-point lead at 53-40, the run marked at 20-7 for the purple and gold.
11:43 L.A. surely knew it would be important not to cede early momentum to Denver, but Martin’s put-back layup, Ariza’s near missed alley-oop and a deep miss from three had some buzz going … Until Dahntay Jones committed a technical foul. Bryant hit the freebie.
9:21 With Gasol’s baseline hook (lefty), L.A. took a 15-point lead, but Billups went for four straight to cut it to 11.
7:39 Martin’s baseline jumper followed two more Nuggets free throws (L.A. had been tagged with five fouls in four minutes) to cut the lead to nine, but Walton responded with a baseline hook from Bryant.
6:07 Gasol and Walton answered with consecutive jumpers to push the lead right back to 13, and Bynum’s box out of Jones earned a personal foul to send it the other way. Bryant was fine with that, using a mismatch on Billups to hit a uber-tough one-hander off glass from the junction, plus the foul, to put L.A. up 71-55.
4:26 Even a Martin alley-oop from Billups failed to get the crowd back into the game, especially because Gasol answered with two free throws at the other end to keep the lead at 16.
2:39 Boy were the Lakers good in the third, just as they’d been in the second, punctuated by deep jumpers from Walton and Bryant that put the purple and gold up 79-59.
1:50 But Denver wasn’t dead yet, getting five quick points from Smith to stay, barely, in the ball game. The starters had done their job in the quarter for L.A., but could the bench maintain the lead?
1:06 Well, there was the Nuggets run, punctuated by a Linas Kleiza triple out of a timeout that capped a very quick 8-0 burst. Lakers by 12.
0:28.2 What a bizarre way to stop the burst as Martin grabbed onto Vujacic’s ankle and wouldn’t let go. Huh? Sasha hit both free throws, then gathered a long defensive rebound and drew a reaching foul on Smith to get back to the stripe. Swish and swish put L.A. up 83-67, and Smith missed a three-pointer at quarter’s close as the Nuggets faced a daunting 16-point deficit.
11:42 L.A. just kept on executing their offense to start the fourth, getting a layup from Odom after a nice pass from Gasol.
11:04 Odom stepped into a three and absolutely destroyed the crowd, leading to this tweet: “Odom’s 3 that put L.A. up 88-67 had the Pepsi Center crowd level at a 2-liter bottle of pop’s caffeine level after a week with the cap off.”
9:30 Bryant drew a foul to stop a quick 5-0 burst that was again punctuated by a Kleiza three. His two makes saw the Lakers at 15-of-15 from the line, and Gasol (playing great all day) dropped in another hook to put L.A. back up 20.
7:21 Anthony threw in an early-shot-clock pull-up to cap a 8-2 run, but Bryant went straight to the cup to keep the lead at 16 with 6:45 remaining. L.A.’s had the answer as Denver absolutely couldn’t get a stop.
6:13 Dagger. Kobe from the corner, for three, after flipping the Mamba switch. How about 35 points, nine assists and four boards in 37 minutes? Lakers 101, Nuggets 82 as some fans started walking out of the building.
4:13 Three Shannon Brown free throws put L.A. up 108-85 as the march to the NBA Finals had just a few minutes left.
2:47 Bryant – stop if we’re sounding like a broken record – had just an over-the-top good game, punctuated by his 10th assist after drawing the defense away from Gasol, who got to 20 points with 12 boards and six dimes in a nearly-as-impressive performance.
1:36 Bryant left the court to some excited support from his teammates, shooting 12-of-20 from the field, 9-of-9 from the line with his double-double.
0:52 For good measure, Odom nailed a three to make it 119-90. The final score was 119-92, and the Lakers were headed to the NBA Finals.