The Los Angeles Lakers headed over to Denver tonight in hopes of closing out the Nuggets in the Mile High City. The Lakers could not finish their first round series in front of their home-crowd, so they had to do it on the road.
Kobe Bryant was under the weather to begin the day and was battling with illness up until game-time. Bryant was not feeling well, but shortly after the team arrived in town, Kobe was announced as a starter.
Kobe Bryant was clearly tired and fatigued to open the game. He took medication before the tip to control the illness, but it seemed like he was just not there to begin the contest.
The Lakers did not open the quarter well and the Nuggets took control of the momentum early. The Lakers were not hitting their shots and to make matters worse, they were playing lack-luster defense. Just two minutes into the game, the Nuggets hit three long balls and opened up an 11-0 lead.
The Nuggets continued with their hot shooting and the Lakers could not do anything to stop them. Los Angeles was not putting hands in shooters’ faces, and their transition defense was laughable. With 6:00 to play in the quarter, the Lakers were down 23-10.
The Lakers started to make some shots and they increased their energy on the defensive end. Matt Barnes helped the Lakers with a three-point basket and it seemed like they were beginning to develop some type of rhythm. With 2:33 to play in the quarter, the Lakers were down 16-27.
After 12 minutes of play, the Lakers faced a 10-point deficit, 30-20. The Lakers shot 34 percent from the field with their leading scorer being Bryant, who scored 10 points on 4-8 shooting.
The Lakers second unit opened up the period and they tried to insert some energy into the team. Although the ball movement had improved, the Lakers had trouble stopping the Nuggets on the other end. Denver was able to get inside the paint and the Lakers offered very little resistance. At the 9:20 mark, the Lakers were down 35-25.
Los Angeles and the Nuggets went back and forth and the Lakers could not muster enough to get a big run. Kobe Bryant was knocking down his shots and although that was pleasing, the Lakers could not put a major dent in the hole. The Nuggets answered back to big shots and the Lakers were down 40-30 with 6:00 to play in the half.
The Lakers made a nice surge and it was led by the sick Kobe Bryant. The tempo turned into the Lakers’ favor and they were chipping into the deficit. After Kobe knocked down two free-throws, the Lakers trailed by five 43-38 with 3:44 to play.
Through two quarters, the Lakers were down by nine, 54-45. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points, followed by Ramon Sessions with nine.
The Lakers did not have a strong start to the half and the Nuggets once again used the energy of the crowd to open up their lead. Los Angeles was not attacking the glass and that allowed the Nuggets to get second-chance shots. Just like in the first quarter, the Nuggets were more aggressive and the Lakers were getting absolutely embarrassed. At the 9:14 mark, the Lakers were down 63-45.
The Lakers did not do much to improve and the Nuggets were getting everything they wanted. Gasol and Bynum were getting completely outplayed and the Nuggets’ front-court dominated the match-up. Despite the size difference, the big men were not producing. With 6:00 to play in the half, the Lakers were down 73-53.
Nothing changed for the Lakers as the quarter progressed and they could not do anything to stop the Nugget onslaught. The Lakers were getting their shots on the offensive end, but they had trouble getting stops. Kobe was doing whatever he could to score the ball but it was up to the defense to spark a run.
After 36 minutes of play, the Lakers were down 90-68.
Kobe Bryant tried to rally his troops before the start of the fourth quarter, but even his words could not do much. The Nuggets could not miss anything and it seemed like they could make any shot from the field. Corey Brewer caught on fire in the fourth quarter and he put an end to any type of Laker run. At the 7:52 mark of the period, Brewer scored 18 points and the Nuggets led 101-73.
As the game quickly got out of hand, Mike Brown decided to sub out his stars including Kobe Bryant. Although Kobe played terrifically despite his illness, it was clear that he was not himself on the court.
The Lakers relied too much on Kobe and made him even more fatigued. He needed his rest and Brown understood that it would be best to take him out and get him ready for Game 7.
Bryant finished the game with 31 points on 13-23 shooting. However, Bynum and Gasol recorded a combined 14 points and 19 rebounds.
As the final buzzer rang, the Lakers walked off the court after a dismal 113-96 loss.
Game 7 will take place on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PST on TNT.