Denver played well at home this season and its passionate fans were ready to propel their team to victory. The crowd was anxious to get the game under way, and were willing to do whatever it took to help the Nuggets win.
The Nuggets almost pulled off an upset in Game 2 of the series and lost the match by only four points. They made a nice run late in the game and that startled the Lakers a bit.
The Los Angeles Lakers had a nice start to the game, and once again their front-court dominated the opening minutes. The Nuggets had their home-crowd behind them, but that did not change anything on the court. The Lakers were just too big in the paint and were up 4-1 with 9:30 left to play in the quarter.
However, as the quarter progressed the Nuggets started to build a little momentum behind the energy from the crowd. Kenneth Faried was out-hustling the Lakers and he helped his squad take its first lead of the series. After an Arron Afflalo three, the Nuggets were up 10-8 with 6:30 remaining.
Still, despite the energy and effort from the Nuggets, the Lakers were hanging around. Denver was clearly running off adrenaline, but the Lakers showed poise and weather the storm well. At the 4:17 mark of the quarter, the Lakers were down just two, 14-12.
In the final portion of the first quarter, the Nuggets went on a major surge under the leadership of Ty Lawson. Lawson scored 13 points in the period and hurt the Lakers from the inside and out. As a team Denver shot 48 percent from the field and the Lakers were at 36 percent and trailed 30-14.
The Nuggets began the second quarter extremely well and their three-point was was phenomenal. Everything was falling for them and the Lakers could not do anything to stop them. Denver has a lot of perimeter players and they showed their skill in the opening minutes. At the 9:18 mark of the period, the Nuggets were up 41-21.
The Lakers used an 9-0 run to get themselves back within striking distance and were playing like they were in Game 1 and 2. The pace of the game changed and half-court offense really worked in the Lakers’ favor. When the Nuggets ran the ball, the Lakers had trouble, but they excelled in a slower-paced game. With 9:50 to play in the half, the Lakers were down 43-31.
Kobe Bryant put the Lakers on his back and took over the scoring load. Bryant was making shots from every angle on the court and the degree of difficulty on his jumpers was amazing. Kobe had 14 point for the Lakers with two three-pointers and kept the team in reasonable margin.
Still, the Nuggets made a big push to end the first half and took a 55-39 lead. Lawson led the Nuggets in scoring with 18 points, while Kobe had 14 but Andrew Bynum had zero.
The Lakers had a nice start to the third quarter and once again it was a result of the game slowing down. The pace was not as fast and that helped the Lakers, and hurt the opponent. Denver has a myriad of fast guards and they struggled in the half-court offense. With 9:00 to play in the quarter, the Lakers were down 55-45 after Bynum scored his first bucket of the game.
Kobe Bryant continued with his stellar play and his outside shooting was on point. He was doing nearly everything for the team and he got great help from Bynum. With 6:00 to play in the period, the Lakers were down nine, 61-52.
Bynum was slowly starting to dominate his opponent and his aggressiveness was something the team had not seen all game. He scored seven points in the period and helped Kobe bring the Lakers back into the game.
The surge for the Lakers continued and it was based off their impressive play on both ends of the court. The front-court established their presence in the paint and the Nuggets had very little resistance to counter. On the other end, the Lakers were playing tough defense on the Nuggets and were fortunate their shots were not going in. With 2:37 to play in the period, the Lakers were down just five, 67-62.
After 36 minutes of play, the Lakers were down by seven, 72-65.
The Lakers opened the fourth quarter with Kobe on the bench, but he was quickly inserted back into the game as the team’s offense struggled. Bynum was getting double-teamed but he was not able to pass it out to an open teammate. As a result, the Lakers turned the ball over and Denver took advantage. The Nuggets made a run in the opening minutes and got their points on the fast-break. With 8:58 left in the game, the Lakers were down 80-69.
The Lakers made small surges in the quarter, but the Nuggets always answered with one of their own. The Lakers’ offense was not running very smoothly and they were not connecting on their jumpers. With 5:12 left to play in the game, the Lakers were down eight, 84-76.
In the final five minutes of the game, the Lakers could not muster enough to complete the comeback. Denver had opened up too big of a lead and the Lakers were unable to overcome it. Kobe Bryant could not get it going from the field and shot 7-23.
Los Angeles had chances to get back into the game, but they could not knock down timely shots in the fourth. As the final buzzer rang, the Nuggets won and took Game 3, 99-84.
Game 4 will be held on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. PST.