May 4, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake (5) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets guard Andre Miller (24) during the second half of game three in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 99-84. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers Take 3-1 Lead Back Home Behind Blake's Clutch Performance

The Lakers did not want to return to Los Angeles in a must win situation, so some of the pressure was relieved in their win tonight in Denver. This was a closely contested game from start to finish, but the Lakers proved tonight why they are the superior team.

Stars of the Game:


LAL: Kobe Bryant, SG, 22 points shooting 10/25 from the field, 6 Assists

DEN: Danilo Gallinari, SF, 20 points shooting 9/16 from the field


LAL: Andrew Bynum, C, 3 Blocks, 7 Rebounds

DEN: JaVale McGee, C, 4 Blocks, 2 Steals

Victory Factors:

The edge the Lakers had in this game was so close that this came down to them simply wanting it more than Denver. Denver fought, but the Lakers had a counterattack cocked and aimed, waiting for whatever the Nuggets threw at them. It does not hurt have a superstar such as Kobe Bryant on the team down the stretch. Steve Blake deserves the game ball though because when Kobe was cold down the stretch, Blake hit several huge shots to seal the game. The Nuggets’ lack of a superstar really hurt them here. Kobe Bryant did not have to hit the game winning shot to have his impact felt. His impact is why Blake was able to come in and produce. Kobe’s influence is spread throughout the team and his desire to win is contagious in the locker room. The deserving team won and the Lakers should conclude this series Tuesday evening in Los Angeles.

Top 3 Concerns:

Los Angeles:

  1. Letting Denver hang around too long
  2. Turnovers
  3. Free Throw shooting (50%)


  1. Rebounding is still a big issue
  2. Allowed six Lakers to score in double figures
  3. Poor 3-point shooting

Additional Thoughts:

Matt Barnes has struggled offensively in this series. While the impact has not truly been felt yet, if the Lakers were to move on to play Oklahoma City, his presence will be necessary.

It should be very interesting to see the balance of minutes between Devin Ebanks and Metta World Peace upon his return. Ebanks has filled in quite well for World Peace and could potentially have a significant impact on the Oklahoma City series, assuming the Lakers advance to round two.

3 Keys to Next Game:

Los Angeles:

    • Attack early in the game, utilizing home court advantage
    • Make Denver play half court basketball
    • Attack the paint aggresively


      • Spread the ball around the perimeter
      • Push the break, maintain uptempo pace
      • Rebound

      Next Game:
      Tuesday, May 8
      10:30 PM ET

      Tune in!

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

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