Saturday, May 23, 2009

L.A. Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Game 3: Afterthoughts

This series does not fail to deliver. Though there were no last second theatrics, the game was close down to the last minute.
  • That intro-music in the arena before the start of the game? Whatever it was, I loved it.
  • J.R. Smith came up huge for the Nuggets today. He defended Kobe admirably, and did a good job of making plays on the offensive end by picking up 6 assists throughout the course of the game. That 3-pointer he stuck at the end of the 3rd quarter was pretty ridiculous too... if only he didn't pick up the technical foul for taunting afterwards.
  • I love Chris Andersen; this guys is about 30 years old, but jumps like he's still 25. Blocking, dunking, rebounding... he did everything today. And you gotta love that mohawk thing he's got going on.
  • George Karl has to be nervous about how the game ran its course today. Despite leading the majority of the game, the ruckus home crowd, and the Laker's off-night, the Nuggets still lost. This is in large due to the relative poor play of his two stars: Anthony and Billups. Though Carmelo managed to get to the line (12-14 FT), he only shot 4-13 from the field, and wound up fouling out during the critical moments of the game. And Billups...
  • ... played a subpar game as well. Chauncey went 5-15 from the field, and turned the ball over four times - uncharacteristic for a former Finals MVP known for his discipline. Billups also loves pulling up for a long 3-ball while in transition early in the shot clock: a play that works wonders in getting the crowd to go crazy, but only when you make it. However, Billups hasn't been able to hit this shot - a problem that goes back to his last couple of seasons in Detroit. These bricks are huge momentum killers...
  • Did anyone see the half-time footage of the Laker's locker-room? It looked like the entire team was asleep while Phil Jackson was giving a barely-audible speech. Funny stuff.
  • Andrew Bynum is by far the most frustrating player in L.A. For all the hype for his crazy workouts and training with Kareem, he's not playing remotely close to the level he can be. Early in the 3rd quarter, he showed a flash of his potential by aggressively posting up, executing a beautiful spin and baby hook. But other than that, he was pretty much invisible during the game.
  • Trevor Ariza is L.A.'s X-factor. This is the second game in this series where he's come up with a steal in the final minute. His also did a relatively good job of containing Melo, and hitting open shots today.
  • The Lakers need to keep feeding Gasol. Neither Martin nor Nene is tall enough to defend Pau, and his turn around jumper from 5ft is money.
  • 41pts, 6rebs, 5 assists, 15-17 from the line - Kobe Bryant did his best to show us that, even considering Lebron's historic buzzer-beater last night, Black Mamba is still the game's best clutch player (13 pts in the third quarter and a monumental 3 for the lead with 1:08 left in the game).
Things to take away from Game 3:

Denver Nuggets: It's critical that Denver doesn't wilt after this defeat. They're a highly emotional team that just lost their first home game in 16 games. Their complimentary players came up big today, so that's something they should try to carry over to game 4. Billups needs to go back to playing more disciplined ball, and give his offense time to set-up instead of launching ill-advised threes. Carmelo also cannot let himself get too discouraged after a disappointing night. He's gotta hit the remember to hit the glass (zero O-rebs tonight compared to 5 O-Rebs in Game 2), and continue to attack the Lakers bigs.

L.A. Lakers: The pressure is still very much on the Lakers. They have not played up to their potential for a good while now, and sooner or later this poor play is going to catch up to them. Phil Jackson needs to figure out a way to get better PG play out of Fisher/Farmar/Brown. Getting Lamar Odom more involved on the offensive end should also be another priority; the Lakers desperately need another reliable source of offense to get Kobe some rest (he looked exhausted during his post-game interview). Bynum could take a page out of Pau's book in exploiting his match-up. This team looks much better on paper than they're showing on the court.

This was Denver's game to win, but they just couldn't hang on in the end...

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