Tied at the end of the first quarter at 25. Tied at the end of the first half at 56. Tied at the end of the third quarter at 76. That was how Game Five of the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Nuggets went. Back and forth for three quarters.
Who would break the game open in the final quarter? Would it be Kobe Bryant? Carmelo Anthony? Pau Gasol? Chauncey Billups?
Actually, it was Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom that sparked the Lakers to an 11-0 run to start the quarter. Then Linus Kleiza exploded for seven straight points to keep Denver in the game.
Then the bigs went at it. Gasol with five blocks, Odom with four. Kenyon Martin came up with a key block for the Nuggets.
Neither team scored for nearly three minutes. The Lakers still held a seven–point lead with two minutes left. Then Carmelo Anthony broke the ice with a layup to cut the lead to five.
But Bryant came back with a beautiful pass to Odom under the basket. Odom hit a dunk and one to push the lead to eight points.
Odom and Gasol got a stop at the other end. Then Bryant took the ball straight to the basket and was fouled. He hit both free throws for a ten-point 101-91 lead.
Anthony made a layup and was fouled by Trevor Ariza for a three-point play. Derek Fisher, who opened the scoring for the Lakers, closed it by hitting two free throws.
That gave the Lakers a 103-94 victory and put them up three games to two with Game Six shifting back to Denver on Friday night.
Although Bryant was the high scorer for the Lakers with 22 points and eight assists, Odom’s 19 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and four blocks that were the impetus behind the Lakers win.
Odom together with Pau Gasol, who had 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, five blocks and two steals, made stop after stop in those last six minutes and kept the Nuggets off the offensive boards to insure the win.
Even though he only had six points, Shannon Brown was the spark that put the Lakers on a role. With the Nuggets up by seven points in the third period, Brown dunked over Chris "Birdman" Anderson to set off his teammates and the crowd.
That sparked a 7-0 Lakers run to tie the score at the end of the third period. Then Brown and Odom continued to lead the Lakers on an 11-0 run to start the fourth period, and the Nuggets were never able to catch up.
To sum things up, if you read the article I wrote just before the start of this game, "Has Mitch Kupchak Cost the Lakers the Title?" then you understand how important it is for the Lakers to keep Odom, Brown and Ariza, who had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal. All three will be unrestricted free agents at the end of this season.
Denver’s Carmelo Anthony was the high scorer for the game with 31 points.
Phil Jackson was fined $25,000 for his comments about the officiating in Game Four. Will George Karl get fined for his comments after tonight’s game?