Lakers vs. Nuggets: Instant Reaction and Analysis of Game 3 of NBA Playoffs

Natalie Saar@NatalieSaarContributor IIIMay 5, 2012

DENVER, CO - MAY 04:  Timofey Mozgov #25 of the Denver Nuggets tries to get off a shot between Pau Gasol #16 and Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 4, 2012 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)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It's absolutely uncanny how when Andrew Bynum gets fed the ball, the Lakers win. Early in the game, Bynum had no points and one rebound because the Lakers insisted on shooting. Then suddenly, he flipped a switch, demanded the ball and finished the game with 18 points and 12 rebounds. However, it was too little too late, and the Lakers could not keep up with the high-energy Nuggets. You can blame the altitude or whatever you want, but the fact remains that the Nuggets outplayed the Lakers in a big way.

This game was truly won and lost in the paint. Looking at a shot chart of the first quarter, when the Nuggets began clobbering the Lakers, this becomes very clear. The Nuggets were driving to the basket and taking high-percentage shots. The Lakers were taking shots that were spread all around the court, with hardly any taken in the paint, and the score reflected that. This can be said of the fourth quarter as well.

Ty Lawson was a huge factor in the game for the Nuggets. He seemed to almost single-handedly affect the speed of the game, especially in the second and third quarters. The Nuggets know if they can play at their speed, then they have a good chance to win.

JaVale McGee was key to keeping Bynum's numbers low throughout the first half. During the second quarter, Bynum was able to flip the switch for a little while, but then Denver's energy took over. Especially in the case of Kenneth Faried. This young rookie, who got virtually no playing time earlier this season, outran the Lakers. He was all over the court in the fourth grabbing rebounds, making shots and creating them. He even blocked the 7'0" Spaniard's shots.

This was also another one of those games where you couldn't help but wonder, "Why the hell is Coach Brown leaving Steve Blake in?!" He played for nearly 30 minutes, sometimes filling in as a shooting guard, and scored a whopping three points. Blake was also shooting 25 percent.

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While the Lakers had their worst game of the series, there was no denying that the Nuggets brought their A-game to the Pepsi Center. Their bench outscored the Lakers' 39-9.

There's a lot the Lakers can work on, but the biggest thing is slowing down the game and, as always, feeding the ball to Bynum. The series is now 2-1 Lakers.