Game four emulates from the Pepsi Center once again as the Los Angeles Lakers face off against the Denver Nuggets. In typical fashion, the Lakers showed why they are a team many associate the word success with.
The ability to make small changes from game two, has led to a much needed game three win.
Given the stats heading into the Pepsi Center Saturday night, with the Nuggets 16-0 at home since March, many wondered how the Lakers would respond, who currently have the best away record of any postseason team.
While the Lakers struggled through the first three quarters, a much needed boost going into the fourth quarter with Bryant's technical shooting led the Lakers to a 32-18 drive and a 103-97 victory.
It is no secret Derek Fisher is struggling to find his mark in the post-season. Compared to the regular season, Fisher's averages have dropped slightly, with both his field goal and three point percentages suffering considerably.
During the regular season, Fisher averaged 0.424 in field goal and 0.397 in three point, compared to his current average in the postseason of 0.343 and 0.233 respectively.
Kobe needs Fisher to provide some cover if the Lakers want to become a deep threat down the stretch against the Nuggets and possible finals against Cavaliers/Magic.
Elsewhere, Pau Gasol needs to continue his dominant play down in the paint. Numbers slightly down from his average in the regular season, he is still an integral part of the Laker offense and defense, with his rebound average up 1.5 overall.
A huge addition that the Lakers need, is Trevor Ariza. Currently, his numbers are up across the board, with his three point shot percentage up 0.226 alone, Ariza has come up big on his field goals and his playoff average is below his season average, Ariza has managed to overcome his two previous series, putting up a 0.714 average.
One of the big keys is giving Kobe plenty of room to make his shots. Kobe's field goals have dropped slightly, however he's made up for it in both three point and free throw shots. Averaging .377 and .884 respectively, Bryant has been able to bring the much needed shots, at times when they really mattered.
Another major issue that needs to be addressed is the Lakers lack of free throw success found in game three. The Lakers defense also needs to lower their foul limits, as the Nuggets shot around twenty free throws in the first half, much were successful as well.
For the Nuggets, I expect nothing but a big game out of the "Birdman" Chris Andersen, shooting above his season average during the conference finals, adding 15 huge points for his Nuggets in game three and has come out of the gate strong, securing many free throw attempts.
The Laker defense need to continue to contain Carmello Anthony as we saw in game three. Limit his shots in the paint, make him go for the hard shots and they should do fine. Contain the three point shooters better, by not leaving them free to shoot.
Although I felt the Lakers could do no worse than another split heading home for game five on Wednesday, if they continue to execute their plays, I would not be surprised to see LA come up 3-1 heading into Wednesday night.
As for the Nuggets, they were overconfident, which while not a bad thing, did hurt them overall. If they can collect themselves, play more calmly and bring sharp execution, they could easily tie the series two a piece.