Nuggets vs. Lakers: Game 5 Highlights, Twitter Reaction and Analysis

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterMay 9, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08:  JaVale McGee #34 of the Denver Nuggets dunks the ball as Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on in the second half in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Not even a spectacular effort from Kobe Bryant could help the Los Angeles Lakers overcome a largely lethargic Game 5 effort, and a balanced one by the Denver Nuggets, in a 102-99 result at the Staples Center Tuesday night.

George Karl's club built up and maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half behind spectacular efforts from reserve aces Andre Miller and JaVale McGee, who combined to score 45 points off the bench.

The Black Mamba exploded for 43 points, including 14 during a hot streak down the stretch, to narrow the gap to a single possession. But he whiffed on two equalizers in the final minute—a mid-range jumper off glass and a contested three—as the Lakers finally awoke from their game-long slumber.

All told, the Nuggets limited the Lakers to 38.9 percent shooting from the field and were able to hold on for their first road-playoff win since 2009, which also came in L.A. 

So much for close-out games being easy.


Tweets of the Night

Who has two thumbs, plays for the Lakers and likes to go Faith Hilling? THIS GUY!

RT if you think this guy is ready to close out the Nuggets:

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 8, 2012


Like many people who were bored by the proceedings at the Staples Center, ESPN's J.A. Adande busied himself with a bit of star gazing:

Larry David, ready to trip another Lakers center…

— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 9, 2012


In Got 'Em Coach's opinion, Andrew Bynum was doing the same thing:

Bynum is the Lakers' future? You can't get the guy to care for a full the Playoffs.

— Got 'Em Coach (@GotEm_Coach) May 9, 2012


At least JaVale McGee was entertaining to watch, right The Bill Walton Experience

From a basketball quality standpoint, Javale McGee is tough to watch. From a comedy standpoint, I hope the Nuggets never get eliminated.

— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) May 9, 2012


Must-See Highlight

Kobe's threes in the fourth quarter were rather insane, but not quite as freakishly jaw-dropping as this half-court alley-oop between Denver's two substitute saviors:


Grades for Key Nuggets Players

Danilo Gallinari: B

Gallo put together a solid, if unspectacular, effort in L.A. The Nuggets' Italian stallion chipped in 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting while playing surprisingly stout defense on Kobe Bryant.

And without the aid of major floppage this time, too.


LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08:  Jordan Hill #27 of the Los Angeles Lakers grabs the ball between Andre Miller #24 and JaVale McGee #34 of the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on M
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Andre Miller: A

Andre Miller had himself a classic Andre Miller game—understated, crafty and efficient. Miller mustered up a team-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting, along with eight assists, in 28 minutes off the Nuggets bench.

Not bad for an old guy.

JaVale McGee: A-

I know, I can't believe I'm listing JaVale McGee as a key Nuggets player either. The goofy big man accounted for three goaltending calls in the first half, but finished the game with 21 points, 14 rebounds and a handful of jaw-dropping dunks, alley-oops and otherwise (see above).

Grades for Key Lakers Players

Kobe Bryant: A+

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts late in the fourth quarter while taking on the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2012 at Staples Center in Los
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Lakers are lucky at least one guy (Kobe) showed up. Otherwise, this would've been a blowout.

As it stands, Bryant erupted for 43 points in 43 minutes to keep the Purple and Gold in the game while the rest of the team was busy sleepwalking through a close-out game. 


Andrew Bynum: C

Speaking of sleepwalking through series closers, Andrew Bynum seemed to think it would be easy to send Denver out of the playoffs with a gentleman's sweep.

And so, not surprisingly, he played with the level of effort to match his imagination. That "effort" yielded a 16-point, 11-rebound night for Bynum, who didn't play so much as a lick of defense on McGee and was his usual, lackadaisical self as a help man up front. 


Pau Gasol: C

Let's put it this way: Pau Gasol looked more like a wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube man than a four-time All-Star while operating against such defensive juggernauts as JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov and Al Harrington.

The result? A solid-but-less-than-satisfactory nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.


Deciding Factor: Scoring, Inside and Off the Bench

Effort played a huge role in Denver's win, though the game was ultimately decided in the paint, where the Nuggets outscored the Lakers 58-44, and off the bench, where they owned a staggering 50-19 advantage.


Game MVP: Andre Miller

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08:  Andre Miller #24 of the Denver Nuggets looks on in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles,
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

This honor would obviously belong to Kobe if the Lakers had won, and nearly did even in defeat. Still, the game ball belongs to 36-year-old guard Andre Miller for beautifully orchestrating an effort that allowed Denver to build up a comfortable lead and fend off the hard-charging Kobe-ettes in crunch time.


What's Next?

These two teams will pack up and head back to Denver for Game 6 at the Pepsi Center on Thursday.