Nuggets Team Up Minus Melo To Sting Lakers, Even Series

Joey GrissoContributor IMay 26, 2009

DENVER - MAY 25:  Chris Andersen #11 and J.R. Smith #1 of the Denver Nuggets react in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
For the first three games of this series, it seemed like having a lead at the end of the first quarter was a bad thing. No team that led at the start of the second quarter ended up winning the game. So when Denver held on to a slim lead at the end of the first, they looked, to some at least, doomed to repeat game three and go down 3-1 heading back to Los Angeles.

However, J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen would not have it that way as the pair combined for 30 points and 16 rebounds, as the Denver Nuggets slammed the Los Angeles Lakers, 120-101.

Melo, Nene, and K-Mart finished with 15, 14, and 13 points respectively. Martin also grabbed 15 rebounds, while Nene got 13.

Kobe Bryant had a big game for the Lakers, scoring 34 on the night and 14 in the last quarter, but unlike last night, Kobe just couldn't win it for the Lakers.

"They just whooped us, period," Bryant admitted. "They whooped us on the glass. They whooped us to loose balls. But you just gotta push through it. They played harder and better, period."

The main factor in Denver's win was the fact that while Bryant had no support from his team, an ailing Melo got plenty of it from his.

"It's satisfying," Anthony said. "It's very satisfying to win a game knowing I wasn't 100 percent out there tonight."

"It just shows we have heart and can play with a man down," Smith noted of the less than stellar performance of Carmelo Anthony. "We did a lot this year and kept it up."

Also, Denver's 42 bench points in comparison to LA's 24 didn't hurt them either. They also outrebounded them 58-40.

"We got hammered from every direction tonight," noted Lakers forward Luke Walton.

If the Nuggets can repeat this kind of balanced attack in games five and six, don't expect to see Kobe and LeBron in the finals.

Game five is Wednesday night in Los Angeles where both teams look to take control of the series.