This game was probably the most consistent game played in the series—that is, until the fourth quarter.
After being tied in the beginning and end of the first, second, and third quarter, the Lakers flustered the Nuggets and went off on a 25-5 run spanning from the near end of the third quarter and started off the fourth with an 11-0 run. It also marked the fourth time in NBA playoffs history that a team was tied during the first three quarters.
"Got to come ready to play,'' Kobe Bryant said. "We made a lot of mistakes the last time, the mistakes that took place were execution, and we didn't do things at the defensive end."
The Nuggets had their chances to bring the game close. They went on a 13-6 run and were down 96-89, but could not convert as neither team had a point added to their total until the 1:24 mark, when Carmelo Anthony made a finger roll layup.
Nene once again played over aggressive and dumb. He picked up really bad fouls and let his temper get the best of him as he was nailed with a technical. As good as Nene is, he needs to learn how to play smart, and not try using all the muscle. He finished with four points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes, which was nothing compared to Game Four, in which he finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes.
Carmelo Anthony, who played horribly in his two games at home, came out and scored 31 points. What made the difference was that Billups only had 12 points and J.R. Smith was limited to seven on 3-for-13 shooting. The Nuggets bench, which is key in wining games, got demolished 34-26, with Lamar Odom having 19 of the 34 bench points for the Lakers.
Nobody else on the Nuggets had more than 12 points besides Anthony.
The Lakers also distributed the ball, winning that matchup, 25-17.
Rebouding was nearly equal between the teams, Nuggets 43 and Lakers 42. Bryant had an all around game with 22 points, eight assist, and five rebounds.
"It was a big gamble for me coming in, but I wanted to change my approach this game and be more of a decoy,'' he said after adding eight assists, several out of double-teams in the fourth quarter. "The past couple games they really were loading to my side and I figured I could be a decoy and try to give chances to my teammates.''
History is on the Lakers side as they have not lost a best-of-seven series that is tied at 2-2 after wining Game Five since the 1969 NBA finals against the Boston Celtics.
The Nuggets have not won a best-of-seven series when trailing 1-0.
Game Six will be on Friday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Start time is 6 PM PT/ 9 EST on ESPN.