Denver Nuggets – 113
Los Angeles Lakers – 96
Denver: Ty Lawson – 32 points (5/6 from 3 point), 5 Rebounds, 6 Assists
Los Angeles: Kobe Bryant – 31 points, 4 Assists
The Nuggets established control of the game early, jumping out to a 23-8 lead early in the first quarter. They were able to maintain their uptempo pace early and keep it steady throughout the game. The Lakers simply could not keep up.
The biggest story coming into this game was Kobe Bryant and his stomach illness. He was unable to be with the team for morning shoot around and his effectiveness was questioned. However, Kobe had a Jordan-esque performance scoring 31 points on over 50% shooting, allowing his team to remain competitive in the first half.
The Lakers fell apart in the second half. The problem was that Kobe was the only player playing with any form of intensity. They put up a very uninspired performance and just looked flat the entire night. Despite a double double, Andrew Bynum played without urgency. Do not let the box score fool you. He was not invested in this game at all. At one point in the game, during a time out, Bynum sat down on the bench away from the team without even acknowledging their presence. Bynum’s attitude was more sickening and contagious to the team than Kobe’s stomach illness.
This Lakers team has the pieces in place to compete at a high level, but they have to put forth effort. They are not the same team they were when they won back to back championships, and they cannot afford to make some mistakes they could have gotten away with back then. This team is vulnerable when they do not play as a complete unit and Denver has exposed that. Attitude will be the driving force behind the Lakers’ success going.
Come Game 7, the Lakers will prove who they really are as a unit. Hopefully the re-addition of Metta World Peace will have a positive influence and help the fluidity of the Lakers’ chemistry.