Artest’s lock-down defense, Kobe’s poor shooting, Lamar’s brilliant minutes – those are the elements we all remember from Sunday’s 95-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Does anyone else realize that other thing though? You know, the fact that it was…
A DAMN CLOSE GAME.
I can count more deficiencies on the Lakers end from the game than Heidi Montag’s plastic surgery procedures. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch…no pun intended, but still. The Lakers by no means played well enough to resoundingly convince me that they could take four out of seven from Denver in the fast approaching playoffs.
The game on Sunday further reminded me of a disturbing statistic that I’ve consciously kept track of all season. Even with the victory, the Lakers are a very pedestrian 8-8 against the other Top 8 teams in the NBA. As the defending champions, I don’t see how 8-8 is acceptable.
You can say what you want about the regular season and how “the games don’t matter as much” and even the players themselves will attest to that claim at times, but I personally don’t buy that one bit. This game is so much about confidence on both an individual and team level.
“You don’t want to give a team too much confidence and let them think they can do whatever they want to you”, said Bryant during a team practice prior to the game.
Let’s face facts here and give the Nuggets their due credit. The Denver squad is hungry, armed, and here to stay, indefinitely. I’d get used to it and get used to it quick. They have all the ingredients to take us out in the Western Conference playoffs and make a legitimate run at the NBA title this year.
Next: The Final Piece