Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers Head to Denver For Game 3

Emmett CorboyContributor IMay 23, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 21:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers posts up Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 21, 2009 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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Nuggets and Lakers will head to Denver for Game 3 tonight with the series tied up at one game apiece.

Thursday night's game two was one of the best of this postseason. Melo lead the Nuggs to victory with 34 points and nine rebounds.

Kobe did all that he could to lead the Lakers for the first 47 minutes, but when the Lakers were in need of a game-tying shot, the ball went to the halfway washed-up point guard Derek Fisher, instead of last year's MVP. Fisher missed and the Lakers lost their chance to go up two games to none.

The Nuggets are going to come out tonight with fire in their collective belly and determination in their soul. As everybody has been saying, the Nuggs are playing the best basketball out of everybody, and have been throughout the playoffs. That being the fact, the Lakers will need to actually play like they have something to prove, because they do.

Throughout the entire postseason, the Lakers have played like they are already in the NBA Finals. That may work against the Jazz and Rockets, but the Nuggets are for real. The Lakers are going to need to come out ready to fight tonight if they want to win this game.

Here are a few keys to the game for each team.


JR Smith

He was unstoppable in the Mavericks series and so were the Nuggets. For the first two games of the series, Smith has averaged 5.5ppg compared to 16.6 and 16.0 in the Nuggets' first two series.


Stay Big

Nene, K-Mart, and Chris "Birdman" Anderson need to continue their domination of the frontline. The Lakers' bigs have been touted as "soft;" something the Nuggs can easily capitalize on.

While they have been out rebounded in the series, Birdman is making his presence felt blocking 1.5 shots per game and altering many others.



The former MVP needs to be "Mr. Big Shot" for the Lakers. When the game is on the line, he needs to take over, much like Bron Bron did last night in Cleveland.

If he wants to combat Jerry West's opinion, Kobe needs to step his game up in crunch time.


Prove It

The Lakers were picked at the beginning of the year by many as the team to rep the West in the NBA Finals this year. So far in the playoffs, they have not played like they should be in the Finals.

They snuck by a banged up Rockets team and never put the Jazz away when they had a big lead. They need to play tonight like they are the underdogs, because in many ways, they are.