The Los Angeles Lakers played Game 2 of their first round series against the Nuggets, and the team was looking to go to Denver with a 2-0 lead.
The Lakers dominated the Nuggets in Game 1, Andrew Bynum had a historic triple-double and it was an overall solid team outing.
However, the Lakers knew that the Nuggets would bring more to the table in Game 2. After a disappointing showing in the first game of the series, it was clear that the Nuggets were going to be a little more focused. Teams that win the first two games of a series very commonly go on to win the series, so for the Nuggets the stakes were high.
The Los Angeles Lakers big men were very aggressive in the early going and were have their way against the Nuggets’ frontcourt. The ball was moving well and that opened up shots for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The two frontcourt mates scored the first six points for the Lakers and they helped the team to a 6-0 lead with 9:34 to play in the fourth.
The Lakers were controlling every facet of the game and momentum was completely on their side. Everyone was playing extremely well and the Nuggets had no answers for the two seven-footers. Everything was going the Lakers’ way and the team was executing efficiently on both ends of the court. Denver made its first field goal nearly five minutes into the quarter, and at that time the Lakers were up 12-5.
However, the Nuggets used an 8-0 run to get back into the game and their offensive rebounds (six) were key in their surge. The Lakers were not playing like they were before and their effort level seemed to decrease. With 4:23 to play in the quarter, the Lakers were up 20-16.
After 12 minutes of play, the Lakers were up 32-25 thanks some nice minutes from Kobe Bryant. The Nuggets made it a one-possession game, but Bryant carried the scoring load and finished the quarter with 14 points on 6-8 shooting.
At the end of the first quarter the Lakers were leading the Nuggets 32-25.
Despite the hot shooting in the first quarter by Kobe Bryant, he went with his usual schedule and rested to begin the second period. However, the Lakers struggled on the offensive end and the Nuggets took advantage of Kobe’s absence. On top of that, Bynum was also subbed out, which left the paint open for Denver. With 9:42 to play in the quarter, the Lakers were up 34-30.
The Lakers subbed Kobe back into the game, but the Nuggets were rolling and even the captain could not slow down the momentum. Denver used a 10-2 run to get itself back into the game and managed to tie the game at 36.
However, just when it seemed as though the Nuggets would take the lead, Kobe found his offensive rhythm. The Nuggets offered very little resistance and their players could not do much to stop the onslaught. Bryant scored 19 points for the Lakers and gave them a 41-36 lead with 5:52 left in the half.
After 24 minutes of play, the Lakers held a 55-48 lead thanks to a strong close to the second quarter. Kobe and Bynum took over the game and played well on both ends of the court.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in scoring with 21 points on 9-12 shooting, followed by Bynum with 16. As a team, the Lakers shot 53 percent from the floor while the Nuggets were at 38 percent.
The Lakers relied on the perimeter jumper to open the third quarter, anchored by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. The two stars were able to find their shots away from the basket and were skilled enough to knock them down. Kobe also hurt the Nuggets in the paint and was having a very efficient night. With 9:56 left to play in the quarter, the Lakers were up 61-52.
Los Angeles opened up its lead in the third quarter and began the period on a 14-4 run to take a 69-52 advantage. The Lakers were killing the Nuggets from the perimeter and the paint. The players were unselfish and everything was going their way. Denver was settling for ill-advised shots and that worked in the Lakers’ favor.
Bryant’s explosiveness and offensive attack was too much for the Nuggets to handle and his foot-work allowed him to get the shots he wanted. The two-seven footers forced their will inside the paint and dominated on both ends of the court.
The Nuggets did make a push to bring the deficit down to single-digits, but the Lakers responded well. Although Los Angeles could have had a commanding lead, it went into the fourth quarter up 81-74. Denver outscored the Lakers 22-10 in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the period and was still in striking distance.
With Kobe and Bynum resting to begin the final period, Pau Gasol was the center piece to the Lakers’ offense. He was also the anchor on defense, and the pressure was on him to prevent the Nuggets from cutting into the lead any further.
However, it was the role players who stepped up and gave the team a spark. Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill played well and their young legs allowed them to get into the open-court. After a Hill block which led to a Sessions fast-break dunk, the Lakers opened up a 87-76 lead with 9:05 to play.
Sessions continued with his stellar play and his speed was something the Nuggets had trouble containing. He had the ability to dissect the defense and got most of his buckets inside the paint. His ten points were much needed and the Lakers were up 91-79 with 7:27 to play in the game.
The Nuggets made another run to cut into the lead and used a 10-1 run to bring themselves within five, 92-87. Denver was getting into the open-court and its relatively quick lineup caused some problems for the Lakers. Los Angeles did not seem engaged and its energy level was at a low.
In the final three minutes of the game, the Lakers showed poise and did not overreact when the Nuggets made their run. Sessions came up clutch for the Lakers and used his quickness to once again score in the paint. Denver tried to steal a win by making the contest into a free-throw game, but the Lakers converted from the line and beat the Nuggets, 104-100.
Bryant finished the game with 38 points on 15-29 shooting, four rebounds and two assists. As for Bynum, he had 27 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
The Lakers will play Game 3 in Denver on Friday at 7:30 p.m. PST.