Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road playoff contest against Denver, the Lakers trying to close out the series after failing to win Game 5 at home, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, Ebanks, Gasol and Bynum
Denver: T. Lawson, A. Afflalo, D. Gallinari, K. Faried, T. Mozgov
7:57 The Lakers couldn’t have started much worse, allowing a 13-0 burst to start the game, as Denver drained three triples (two from Lawson, who was 2 for 16 in the series coming into the game) and L.A. missed its first eight shots. Kobe, battling gastroenteritis to the point that he had his head down and eyes closed just before the game on the bench, finally broke the run with a J and two free throws.
0:00 Denver finally cooled off, scoring 17 across the remaining eight minutes, and L.A. got 10 Bryant points towards a 30-20 deficit. What continues to surprise is that lack of offensive impact from Bynum (0 for 5) and Gasol (0 for 0), particularly with Bryant struggling with his health.
8:55 The deficit remained at 10 early in the second, as Barnes managed to hit just his third 3 of the series in 21 attempts to go with a slashing hoop, but L.A. conceded yet another transition three (sub Corey Brewer) on the other end.
4:15 Kobe continues to remind us to never take him for granted. Sick as he was, he still managed to score 19 points with four minutes to play in the second quarter, more than half of his team’s 38, to cut the deficit to five. Gasol had yet to score, and Bynum had just a single field goal, the paint dominance that is supposed to belong to the Lakers non existent on offense with the Nuggets crashing the lane.
0:00 Bynum wasn’t scoring (three points), but he was boarding (10 rebounds), helping LAL go on a run to cut the Nuggets lead down to just four when Gasol hit his first shot of the game. However, a 7-2 run to close the half, ending with a goaltending call on Gasol at the buzzer as he pushed his hand up under the rim, allowed Denver to restore a nine-point margin at 54-45. Take out the 13-0 and 7-2 runs, and LAL actually outscored the Nuggets 43-34 (not that you can erase points … just sayin’). And by the way, Denver hit EIGHT first half triples, only two fewer than they managed to hit in the first five GAMES (20).
5:40 Bryant was up to 25 points after hitting two more jumpers, but Denver had opened the quarter on a 9-0 run and shortly thereafter pushed the lead all the way up to 20. At risk of sounding like a broken record, Denver’s strategy of collapsing their entire defense on Bynum and Gasol was working wonders, the two bigs combining for only five points on a combined 3 for 16 shooting. Needless to say, that wasn’t going to do the trick.
3:32 Ty Lawson, who was responsible for the early burst by nailing four threes in the first few minutes, didn’t cool off, reaching 29 points on a super-efficient 12 of 16 field goals, his latest putting the Nuggets up 83-59. Starting to look a whole lot like Game 7 for the Lakers.
0:00 A huge lead of 90-68 was Denver’s heading into the final period, with nearly every statistical category favoring the home team. Bottom line, L.A. got out-worked, out-hustled and out-played for most of the first 36 minutes.
11:00 How was LAL’s night going? Well, usual non-scorer Corey Brewer went for six points in the first minute and change of the fourth, pushing Denver’s lead up to 96-70. Kobe managed to get to 31 points on 13 of 22 field goals after draining another jumper, the 85th time in his career he went over 30 in the playoffs, if you’re looking for at least one positive purple and gold thing.
7:52 Um, did we mention Brewer? He scored two more buckets, including the 10th Denver three, scoring all 11 points to push the lead to 28. So, yes, we’ll be seeing you on Saturday in Los Angeles for Game 7. The white flag was waved moments later, with a line up of Darius Morris-Devin Ebanks-Christian Eyenga-Troy Murphy-Jordan Hill given the final six minutes.
0:00 The third unit actually played quite well, showing more energy than some of the regulars, momentarily trimming the lead back under 20 thanks to Ebanks and Morris. Alas, the final: Denver 113, LAL 96. See ya at STAPLES Center, folks, after the second straight failure for LAL to close out the Nuggets after winning three of the first four games.