May 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) and shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) celebrate after Bynum scores and draws a foul against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of game two of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers Edge Denver 104-100, Lead Series 2-0

The Lakers earned the victory in an important Game 2 to secure the advantage heading into Denver. This game was more hard fought than Game 1, but it brought the best out of All Stars Kobe Bryant and ( and more importantly ) Andrew Bynum. His presence was felt defensively in Game 1, but his offense left more to be desired. That changed in game 2 as he asserted himself more offensively and was consistent on the defensive end.

Denver showed a lot of fight as they got solid production out of Ty Lawson. Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee. They all brought energy that was influential to the flow of the game. The Nuggets showed that they have a no-quit attitude and are not intimidated by the Lakers, despite having now lost both games in Los Angeles.

In the end, the Lakers’ star power -Bryant, Bynum, and Gasol- proved to be too much for the speedy youth of the Denver Nuggets.

Stars of the Game:

Offensive:

LAL: Kobe Bryant, SG, 38 points shooting 15/29 from the field, 6/7 Free Throws

DEN: Ty Lawson, PG, 25 points shooting 11/17 from the field, 7 Assists

Defensive:

LAL: Pau Gasol, PF, 2 Blocks, 2 Steals, 10 Rebounds

DEN: JaVale McGee, C, 6 Blocks, 9 Rebounds

Victory Factors:

Andrew Bynum gets tonight’s game ball. Kobe Bryant scored 38 points, but that’s to be expected. Bynum’s play, especially his offense, solidified the core of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game plan. The offense flows through him and the defense is built around him. His efficient play on both ends (27 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) causes a domino effect leaching off into his teammates.

Kobe’s play cannot and should not be ignored. To expect great play is different than just assuming it will occur. Kobe’s play should not be taken for granted. He was vintage Kobe tonight as he scored 38 points on over 50% shooting. When a team’s two All Stars are displaying why they are All Stars with performances such as Bryant’s and Bynum’s, they are difficult to overcome.

Top 3 Concerns:

Los Angeles:

  1. Ty Lawson must be contained
  2. Bench needs to score (8 total points)
  3. Allowed six players to score in double figures


Denver:

  1. Bynum is not being pushed around enough
  2. Boxing out is an issue that needs to be addressed
  3. Ty Lawson needs to assert himself more into the offense


Additional Thoughts:

The Nuggets put up a fight. They came out of half time full of energy outscoring the Lakers by double digits. However, they let the Lakers get momentum and dictate the tempo of the game. The Nuggets cannot compete with the Lakers in a half court set. They must keep the game moving quickly. Ball movement and floor spacing will be essential to manipulating the Lakers’ defense.

Defensively, the Nuggets must pressure Kobe Bryant off the ball. They’ll have to make him work before he even touches the ball. JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried have their work cut out for them in the paint. They have to utilize their athletic ability to make up for the Lakers’ bulk. Rebounding will be the key to the next game.

3 Keys to Next Game:

Los Angeles:

    • Slow the game down
    • Spread the ball to more scoring options
    • Improve perimeter shooting (13.3% from three point)

    Denver:

      • Get the crowd involved
      • Push the Lakers’ big men around
      • Push the fast break


      Next Game:
      Friday, May 5
      10:30 PM ET
      on ESPN

      Tune in!

      Also, Be sure to Follow Me on Twitter! @JohnYJArmstrong

      Tags: Denver Nuggets Los Angeles Lakers NBA NBA Playoffs 2012 Western Conference Round 1

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