Game five is now officially in the books of the Nuggets and Lakers series, as the Lakers take a decisive game five in Los Angeles to set up a 3-2 series lead.
To say this game wasn't remotely amazing would be an understatement. The Lakers' bench showed up huge tonight, with Odom and Brown bringing in 25 points alone.
As for the Lakers starting five, they had a combined 69 points, which comes in at fifth when looking back in the series, however, Kobe only had 22 of those points, compared to two games with 40+ and one 30+ game.
The offense was definitely on fire tonight for the Lakers and following Shannon Brown's HUGE dunk over Chris Andersen, pretty much sealed the deal for them. Let's take a look over some of the pros from the Lakers tonight, as I try to break down the game.
One of the big keys tonight was the aggressiveness from the Laker team. The ability to drive the lane, take a shot and foul and end up with a potential three point play. Ten offensive rebounds tonight by the Lakers turned into some pretty big baskets that gave them energy.
Several key players who've struggled over the course of the last five games, Bynum, Odom, Ariza and Fisher, all came out strong tonight, combining for 52 points, their largest combo yet this series.
Derek Fisher made sure to start the game off strong, coming up with huge baskets and great play, especially finding Bryant in the paint for a nice basket. The Lakers point guards made a solid effort overall to give their team a huge 3-2 series lead.
Over the course of the game, a big problem I noticed were several Nuggets players left unattended, wide open, leading to some big two or three point plays, which adverted, could have had an even bigger impact on the game.
Closing the lane is another big key in order to stop a team and at times I felt some Nuggets were left uncontested even though the paint was well protected.
Ability to keep the Nuggets at only 30 free throw attempts tonight, although a 76.7 percent completion ability, allowed the Lakers the ability to keep momentum, and having Sasha Vujacic hit the huge three pointer gave the Lakers a nice boost and a tie score, heading into halftime.
As witnessed tonight, Andersen was kept to a low, and while he certainly had his share of blocked shots, the ability of Shannon Brown dunking over Andersen followed up later by Lamar Odom, were certainly huge boosts for the Laker lineup.
Solid ball movement all around tonight kept things fast and quick, while certainly keeping the Nuggets on edge, leading to some awesome points down in the paint, certainly attained by one Bryant, finding Odom and others down low.
Falling behind several times throughout the four quarters by the Lakers, showed their ability to overcome adversity overall, and coming into the fourth quarter red hot, going on a solid 11-0 run before Anthony hits two back to back free throws.
Big shout-out to Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol for having the ability to make huge blocks down in the paint and around the perimeter, allowing the ball to return to Lakers hands.
Huge defensive and offensive plays around the paint allowed the Lakers the ability to foul Nene out, as well as securing a technical at 9:33, roughly half way through the fourth quarter, taking down one of the Nuggets big men.
Heading into game six in Denver on Friday night, the Lakers are driving with full force and a huge momentum boost. Taking one in game three will definitely be a deciding factor, as the Lakers now have a large advantage in closing this series out and resting roughly six days before facing the winner of Cavs/Magic series.
The Nuggets need to shake this loss off as they've done so in the past, attack the boards, grab those rebounds and create second chance opportunities and driving the paint, otherwise we're looking at another Laker victory.
An interesting tidbit, being that when Anthony plays away and scores 30+ in a game, they seem to lose, while both home games saw Anthony just under 20. Whether Anthony can shrug that off, become a big part of game six remains to be seen, but as game four has taught us, Anthony doesn't need to drop 30+ in order to win games.
Keeping the silly fouls to a minimum, making solid executions, and protecting the paint harder, we could be seeing an exciting seventh game of this series, otherwise, we'll see you, Magic, in the finals!