The Nuggets won big tonight 113-96, but don't let that score fool you - this game was over at the 7:52 mark of the fourth quarter with Denver up 101-73. Kobe Bryant, and his flu, was taken out of the game and the celebration was on. Ty Lawson led the way with his best playoff performance to date: 32 points (on 13-18 shooting), 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. The Nuggets exploded, no Kobe pun intended, at The Can from downtown with a 10-20 night and from all over the floor - shooting 51% on the evening. There will be a Game 7.
With the Nuggets winning one of their most thrilling playoff games in franchise history in Game 5 in Los Angeles, the response to that game in Game 6 could have gone a few ways ...
- Come out feeling good about winning one on the road and lose at home.
- Use the gutty effort from Game 5 to grind out a tough win at home.
- Finally click on offense and use Game 6 to celebrate what the team is capable of doing.
Well, with the Nuggets coming out of the gates on absolute fire and getting a 13-0 lead, we thought we had our answer. Denver looked focused and ready to go, Lawson came out and fired up a three, nailed it. Danilo Gallinari didn't hesitate on his first shot attempt, back-to-back threes. Lawson drives, good. Lawson from long range ... good. Kenneth Faried sends the crowd into a frenzy with a powerful dunk ... Nuggets rolling.
The Lakers withstood the Nuggets hot start and hung around, thanks in large part to Bryant. The road team made a little push in the second quarter and with 2:40 left before the half, the Lakers cut Denver's double-digit lead to just five points, 45-40 after a Ramon Sessions layup. It appeared the Nuggets would be going to battle the rest of the way as the veteran Los Angeles squad wasn't going away. But Denver had another run in them ...
Thanks to Gallo, Arron Afflalo, and Ty Lawson (nice goaltend by Pau Gasol - about the only play he made on the night ... for Denver no less!), Denver closed the half on a 9-5 run and protected their multiple possession lead by going into the locker room up 54-45.
With the third quarter looming, we once again were left to wonder what Nuggets team would come out of the locker room? Too often this season, and even post-season, we've seen teams erase Denver leads in a matter of minutes.
George Karl's team came out and went on a 9-0 lead, thanks to Kenneth Faried. The Manimal got an And-1 to start things off, from a beautiful pass from Gallo. Then Manimal came up with a loose ball and was off to the races. As Faried went up for the dunk (always attacking), Bryant came in from behind and swiped for "the ball" and bashed Faried in the head and an ugly landing put a scare into Nuggets Nation. But Bounce, as he's known by his teammates, bounced back and sank to huge free throws after the Flagrant-1 foul. Bryant was lucky to stay in the game, but he wouldn't be out there too much longer.
Name the player for the Nuggets and he probably got a little fire, said for Al Harrington (poor Buckets). Denver ran the Lakers off the floor and out of the arena. With Bryant, Gasol, and Andrew Bynum watching much of the final quarter from the bench, their faces and the faces of their teammates said a lot. The buzz-saw that was the Nuggets offense and the fury that was the Nuggets defense shut the Lakers down and they wanted to part of this Denver team.
One big win, followed up by another ... Game 7 is coming Saturday. Go Nuggets!
Views you can use:
- Timofey Mozgov - The Mozgov Militia is proud of the young Russian. Moz finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds (1 offensive), and 1 block, but his mark on the game was much more than what his stat line read. Mozgov was fighting for rebounds (only credit for one offensive, but I swore he had more) and battling Bynum all night. Mozgov even got his groove back on offense and showed it by pump faking Bynum and then laying a left-handed hook shot in his face in the second half. Switching from Kosta Koufos to Moz might just win this series for the Nuggets.
- Andrew Bynum put up another meaningless double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds (and 4 blocks). His 4-11 performance really shined through with his zombie like bench performance where he failed to even enter the team huddle during the game ... what a great teammate!
- Lawson - wow. Just wow. I don't think we can expect another shooting night like this from Lawson, but he was doing all of his damage from the perimeter tonight ... well most of it. Lawson was 5-6 from deep and just had his way with the Lakers. He showed why being a duel threat is important in the NBA ... he can play at the rim and is getting more and more confidence on the perimeter.
- I didn't like how the Nuggets bigs played to start the game - Moz and Faried both missed jumpers and were not doing much on the offensive end. Faried changed that and wound up having the big night for the big guys, he finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Take out Manimal's free throws (3-3) and the Nuggets go just 6-14 from the charity stripe tonight. Denver will need a better performance from freebie-land in Game 7.
- Gallo showed why being an all-around player is more important than just being a scorer tonight. Gallo his his share of big shots (5-13 and just 2-6 from deep) sure, but his 7 assists tied the team lead for the night (with AAA!) and it was no surprise that his +27 was tops on the team. Gallo's defense continues to impress and his length is bothersome, if only he'd play offense like he does defense, play big Gallo!
- Corey Brewer led the bench with 18 points tonight on 8-12 shooting (2-3 from deep). Perhaps that elbow that JaVale McGee landed on Brewer corrected his vision or something? Whatever that elbow did, it helped Brewer tonight! A fine shooting performance and C-Brew also had the right energy tonight. Hell of a game from The Weasel.
- Harrington continues to struggle - rough post-season. A torn meniscus and a broken nose ... I'm surprised it was Mozgov and not Big Al who was caught eating pizza before Game 5 in the locker room! Afterall, what else could go wrong for Al Buckets in this series. I'm sure he's beyond frustrated after having such a fine season, but he's doing what he can to help the team. His shooting might be cold, but he's the stretch bench big and he needs to keep shooting his shots ... maybe not drive, but keep taking his open three-pointers.
- McGee had a forgettable game with 2 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 fouls. Consistency for a young big man can be hard to find, but he needs to have a big Game 7 for the Nuggets. There didn't seem to be a lot of space inside in the half-court tonight and this evening it was all about perimeter play. If Game 7 is an inside game, McGee needs to make his presence felt.
- Finally, Kobe ... I'm not sure how bad his flu was, but he looked like the clear best player for the Lakers tonight. He was hitting shots from all over, after a short cold start, and finished with 31 points. Can't judge how sick a guy is, but the broadcasters on TNT sure tried to throw out some Michael Jordan flu-game talk and make as many excuses for Kobe as they could. Speaking of Kobe ... he got away with three blatant fouls in the first quarter and one pretty bad foul on Faried - when will basketball-Karma catch up to him? Perhaps it is ... Game 7 coming - Go Nuggets!!!
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