Bryant, Lakers Head to Second Straight NBA Finals

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IMay 30, 2009

The NBA can breathe a little easier as the Los Angeles Lakers take care of business and are heading back to the finals for a second straight year after defeating the Denver Nuggets. Half of the Kobe Bryant and LeBron James matchup is set now with the win by the Lakers. From the start of the game there was no let down by the Lakers after a win and knowing that they have a game seven at home.

The Lakers got the lead early and it was not Bryant but Trevor Ariza, who had 17 points in the game, to get things going for the Los Angeles. The Nuggets come out sluggish and slow to rotate defensively as the Lakers make extra passes and take very good shots in the first quarter. Denver does not dominate on the boards like they had for most of the series.

The Lakers shot over 50 percent from the field in the first quarter and for the first half. The only things keeping the game close were Lakers turnovers and J.R. Smith who comes out firing and has 24 points in a losing cause. For Smith it was one of his best games of the series and he was the best Denver player on the court.

The Lakers lead by five points after the first quarter and kept building the lead as the game went on. Los Angeles gets another solid game from Pau Gasol with his normal double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds. Denver was down by thirteen points at the half and did not shot the ball well as well as playing bad defense in the first two quarters.

Things did not get any better for the Nuggets even thought Kenyon Martin, with 13 points in the game,  tried to spark a comeback driving the ball to the basket and crashing the boards for rebounds and put backs. The Lakers were able to counter with big games from Lamar Odom with 20 points and Luke Walton with 10 points to keep growing the lead. Los Angeles leads by 16 points going into the fourth and final quarter.

The Nuggets were looking for a big fourth quarter to try to get back in to the game and pull out a win and force a game seven. Denver turns to its stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups who score 25 and 10 points respectively. The only problem is that Melo and Billups got a combined 8 of 24 from the field as poor shooting does in the Nuggets as they shot 44 percent from the field.

Kobe Bryant does not let Denver have any chance in the game. Bryant takes over the game in the fourth quarter as the Lakers shot 57 percent for the game and are perfect from the free throw line. Bryant hits big shots and drives the ball to the basket for several baskets and free throw attempts. Bryant finishes the game with 35 points to go along with 10 assist and is headed to the NBA finals for the sixth time in this career.

With the 119-92 win the Lakers are headed to the finals for the sixth time in Phil Jackson tenure as head coach as he goes for this 10th NBA championship. As a franchise it is their 30 trip to the championship series. They will await the winner of the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers series in which the Magic lead 3-2. The NBA Finals start on June 4th.