Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Game 7 Preview

Robert C BinyonContributor IIMay 12, 2012

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol must show up in Game 7.
Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol must show up in Game 7.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

 “Close-out games are actually kind of easy.

Really, Andrew? Is that why the Lakers have lost the last two? You're just trying to bring in more ticket revenue for the club, are you?

Please grow up. We as fans are tired of watching you act like this.

I've been one of Andrew Bynum's biggest promoters this season, and before now I have been a constant background supporter, keeping my true feelings close to the vest because I wasn't 100 percent positive.

Then in January I went on the record saying that I believed Bynum had the potential to become the best center in the NBA.

Now I feel as though the only thing standing in his way of becoming one of the best players in this league is himself. In Game 1 of this series, he recorded a triple-double, 10 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks—he wasn't happy.

His post-game interview made it clear that he wanted to score more points. He wasn't happy with being a solid contributor. The kind of contributor that any real fan automatically gives all the credit to.

Then in Game 2, he scores 27 points on 12-20 shooting, and the Lakers record another solid win. Andrew contributed on both ends but was more visible on the score sheet this time around.

Since then, it has only been a matter of time until Andrew shut down. That's what we've seen these past two games. He wants to do things his way, and if he can't, he's going to go through the motions. Game 6 was one of the worst displays of professional basketball I have ever witnessed, and if the team comes out flat like that even for a minute in Game 7, I'm not sure they're going to come away with the win.

As frustrating as Bynum has been, the onus cannot be placed squarely on his shoulders, and his shoulders alone.

Answer me this: Has anyone else lost count of the number of wide-open shots Ramon Sessions has passed up in this series? Hell, even in the last two games? I nearly lost my voice yelling at him from section 304 during Game 5.

I've never seen someone so 100 percent against shooting the basketball. If you can't shoot the ball when you're wide open, chances are you should come out of the game, but when the other team is asking you to shoot the ball, and you refuse to do so to the detriment of your team—there is absolutely no reason you should see the court.

Ramon has one game to prove to me that he belongs on this team, and if he fails to show up, I could care less if he opts in or out of his contract. If he can't shoot the ball when he's on the floor, what little semblance of offensive spacing the Lakers have turns to shambles. 

With Ron Artest coming back (I'm sorry, I just can't go with Metta World Peace; I've tried to do it before, but I just enjoy using his real name) the Lakers will have some more intensity on the floor to go along with Kobe. Kobe believes in Artest, and he knows that he can rely on him putting out effort in these big games.

With all of these moving pieces, you would generally find Pau Gasol alongside Bryant, but ever since last year's playoffs, the lovable Spaniard hasn't been the same consistent rock he used to be in high-pressure situations. He's timid around the rim, he's slow on his rotations, and his jump-shot would have a hard time falling in the ocean right now. 

That's the beautiful thing about the Lakers. Right now all they need is one of these guys to start producing. If someone else can show up alongside Bryant, it's going to be tough for the Nuggets to walk away with a favorable result tonight. If any one of these guys can show up, the team will respond.

I refrained from writing this article after Game 5 because I wanted to see how this team would react. Unfortunately, I was appalled. I didn't think what happened in Game 6 was even possible. Now comes the most nerve-racking night in a fan's heart, Game 7.

You never know what can happen in a Game 7. Everything is on the line tonight.