Lakers-Nuggets: Linas Kleiza, Carmelo Anthony Steal Home Court, Tie the Series
Game Two of the Western Conference Finals ended up being just like Game One: A nail-biter and an onslaught between two close friends, teammates, and opponents.
Carmelo Anthony notched 34 points after going for 39 in Game One. It was the fifth consecutive game in which he has scored 30 points or more, spanning from the Dallas Mavericks series.
Kobe Bryant answered Melo's calls with swishes of his own, going off for 32 points on 50 percent shooting. His 40-point performance in Game One was his eighth career playoff game with 40 points or more.
It seems like the younger brother beat up the older one.
"He's like a brother to me," Kobe said of his former Team U.S.A teammate. "I love him. We spend a lot of time together. He was the one I'm closest with on the team."
Much like Game One, one team started off cold, while the other was on fire. The Lakers led 31-23 after the first quarter.
A complete reversal from Game One. But in this series, it seems like the team that plays well in the second quarter that wins the game.
The Nuggets outscored the Lakers 31-24, while the Lakers outscored the Nuggets in Game One 32-23. Eerily similar.
Carmelo started off going 1-for-6 and only had two points in the first. Bryant, on the other hand, had 14 points—a start that Carmelo had in Game One.
The Nuggets rallied back in the second quarter from a 13-point deficit to be down by one at the half. Anthony came alive scoring 14 points in the second.
The real factor, though, was Linas Kleiza.
Kleiza, who has a 41-point game under his belt in his career, seems to be forgotten at this time of year. Playing limited minutes and games, Kleiza came out tonight and lit it up, scoring 16 points and hitting four of seven three-point attempts.
With J.R. Smith cold once again and Nene unable to produce, Kleiza was the one who helped the Nuggets to a victory. The third and fourth quarter saw the Nuggets trying to take the lead, which they then did in the fourth at the 10:48 mark, going up 85-82 on a Kleiza three-point shot.
The Nuggets, who got out-rebounded in Game One, played the board game with the Lakers, losing the battle 43-42. An improvement nonetheless.
It once again came down to the last seconds, in which Kobe hit the tying shot to level it at 101-101 with 45.3 seconds left to go. The Nuggets got the ball inbounded successfully and Billups dribbled down the court.
He gave the ball to Nene, the Lakers' defense collapsed, and Nene found a wide open Kenyon Martin, who layed the ball in to give the Nuggets a two point lead with 29.6 seconds to go.
Instead of Trevor Ariza stealing the ball this time, Nene got the steal from Ariza and gave it up to Billups, who was fouled and made it 105-101. The Lakers answered back with Pau Gasol hitting both of his free throws to bring it within two again. Billups then got fouled and uncharacteristically only hit one of two free throw attempts.
This gave the Nuggets a 106-103 lead with 4.3 seconds left. Carmelo made it difficult for Kobe to get the ball, and Derek Fisher wound up throwing up the three to no avail.
The Nuggets walked out of the Staples center with a 106-103 win and tied the series 1-1.
An interesting note: John Cena was at the game sporting a Laker jersey. If you have been following the Pepsi Center WWE story, you would know why.
Game Three will be in Denver on ESPN.
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