Thursday, May 21, 2009

Denver Game 1 thoughts

An instant classic, and to gut out this crunch time win was huge both in terms of the series and the emotional state of the teams.

First quarter:
* An early surprise: Kobe is on Billups. I guess they don't want him to roam against this team, interesting.

* Really cold shooting to start.

* Another surprise, K-Mart is guarding Bynum with Nene matching up with Pau. That's much better for Denver than the converse, if they can avoid Bynum abusing them in the post. Which would require the Lakers actually throwing the ball to a big, so not much danger of that!

* Anthony is dominating: 5/6 for 11 points.

* Denver has three pick and roll dunks for the rolling big, poor rotations there.

* Carmelo now 6/7 to stretch the lead to 27-14 (he ended the quarter 7/8 for 16).

* Sasha hits a 3. That this is notable enough for a bullet point shows how far he has fallen.

* Billups came into the game 66/69 on playoff free throws, but just missed a pair.

* Denver ends the quarter up 31-23, frankly it could have been much worse so I'm not that unhappy with the score.

Second quarter:
* Denver is now 1/6 from the line.

* The defense is really picking up, cutting the lead to 35-32.

* Billups missed a third straight free throw before finally righting himself and hitting three in a row.

* Lamar picks up his third foul at the 4:43 mark, that hurts. And Denver now has a 14-7 free throw edge, exactly the opposite of what we were expecting.

* And now Bynum picks up his third, at 4:14. This is Bizzarro World officiating so far. Powell is in and will need to give us some good minutes.

* LA's bench has outscored Denver's 18-2 (the half ended 20-3). That is countering the fouls for the most part.

* Denver now 17-7 in free throws.

* Nene is killing Pau, in particular beating him downcourt, and is 6/7 (they shut that down, he ended the game 6/9).

* Fish is still shooting the ball poorly. We need him in this series.

* Powell provided the needed spark with 4 quick points.

* Denver's free throw advantage is now 21-10, and that includes one the Lakers got for a technical so it's really 21-9.

* Fish finally hits a 3, and it's a huge one, buzzer beater to give the Lakers a 55-54 lead at the break. Carmelo has 20 on 11 shots, and Kobe has 18 but on 16 shots, so big edge to their superstar.

Third quarter:
* Bynum picks up his fourth foul on the first defensive possession, 36 seconds in.

* Odom gets rung up for an 8 second violation after we are forced to re-inbound with only 3 seconds left. Somebody has to be letting him know there, and he shoudl also be aware, bad play all around.

* Fouls are killing us! Road court advantage.

* Ariza picks up his fourth at the 6:03 mark. Sun Yue might be playing before this thing is over, if they'll let him take the court wearing a tie.

* Carmelo has 30, including 4/4 from distance. Fluke shooting game.

* Payback: Nene picks up his fourth at the 5:53 mark. Sarcastic cheers from the crowd.

* Kobe just picked up his fifth technical of the playoffs, two from a one-game suspension. He's got to lay off the crybaby act. Unless he puts on a Tim Duncan jersey, in which case they would just ignore it.

* The Lakers finally pulled out to a 72-68 lead, but Denver answers with a 5-0 run to reclaim the lead.

* LA has a 14-4 offensive rebounding edge.

* Denver leads 76-74 at the end of 3, looks like this one might be decided late.

Fourth quarter:
* Denver extends their run to 13-4 to take an 81-76 lead. Need to keep in touch here.

* JR is getting hot, have to stay attached to him. 8 pretty quick points.

* The offensive execution is poor to start this quarter, not good timing.

* 89-82 and in some trouble. Denver has a 29-12 free throw advantage now.

* The Lakers are in the penalty with 6:16 to go.

* Kobe has switched onto Anthony but Melo's just too strong for him.

* So much for that small advantage; Denver is in the penalty 1:08 after we got there.

* 33-14 free throws now, ugh!

* Trevor hits a huge 3 to cut it to 84-82 with 4:16 to play.

* Melo gets a big putback for a 96-92 lead at 3:25. Trevor didn't box him out.

* After a Pau block, Fish hits a massive corner 3 to give the Lakers their first lead of the quarter, 97-96 at the 2:35 mark.

* After Pau draws a charge on Melo, he gets the ball and abuses K-Mart to draw the foul at 1:53. Oh no, he missed them both! Golden opportunity lost there...

* Chauncey hits the stepback 3 over Pau for a 99-97 lead at 1:38. That's just a player making a play, you tip your hat.

* Fish is fouled in the leg on a 3 he threw up to get the FT (and late in the shot clock) but they are not forthcoming, but Pau gets the offensive board and gets fouled with 1:14 left. And that's Nene's sixth, seeya Thursday. This time he knocks them down to tie the game at 99.

* Off an Andersen miss, a scrum results in a jump ball between Lamar and Birdman with 57.3 left and 7 on the shot clock. Odom wins the tip!

* Kobe misses but the rebound is tipped out of bounds by Denver, so we get a fresh clock with 35.5 left. Can we get a 2 for 1?

* We can! But only due to a really stupid foul by K-Mart, reaching on Kobe as he tries to double at 30.5. Kobe sinks them, 101-99. Watch Chauncey, he will pull up for 3 if he gets a chance!

* Ariza steals the inbounds pass! And dribbles downcourt, and gets it to Kobe, they don't have to foul but they do with 10 seconds left. The key to that play is Odom's length on the inbounder Carter, forcing him to lob the pass. Whcih Billups does not come hard to get, either, but Trevor jumped the play so well I'm not sure it would have mattered.

Kobe hits the 2, 103-99.

* Chauncey hits a stepback 3 fromt he left corner with 6.1 left and the game is back in play at 103-102. Replays show he was out of bounds and the shot should not have counted. Imagine a call going against the Lakers tonight, huh?

* We get the inbounds to Kobe, who is fouled at 5.8. He hits them, 105-102, and they are out of timeouts.

* The Lakers are set up to foul and Fish takes it on Smith at midcourt, 3.2 left. Smith will have to hope to miss one and get an offensive rebound, with no timeouts that is their only option.

He makes the first, 105-103.

And misses the second off the front iron, pretty good job but Kobe secures the ball and throws it downcourt as the clock expires.

Smith hurt his knee a bit going for the rebound, hard to tell if it's anything (Karl says in the press conference that it's a minor hyperextension).

From the boxscore:

The Lakers rebounded 17 of their 47 misses (36.2%), leading to a 22-10 advantage in second chance points.

Denver outshot the Lakers 48.6-41.1%, the third staright game that the shooting has been subpar against them. Getting the ball inside would help in that regard.

Denver won the paint, 46-40. That should not happen.

LA won the battle of the benches, 27-16.

LA hit 11/25 3's, a lot of attempts at a high percentage.

Kobe was good enough late to salvage 40 points on about 34 shots. Carmelo was utterly brilliant with 39 on about 23 shots.

K-Mart scored 15 on 7/14 shooting, but that's fool's gold, I'd be happy for him to keep taking 14 shots a game.

JR was 2/7 from the field and 2/6 from the line.

Fish's 13 and 6 was nice, but Pau has to get more than 9 shots.

And so we held serve and give them their first adversity of the playoffs. If we can get off to a good start tonight they might start to remember who the hell they are and let some doubt creep in. But if they get the game we are forced to go get one in their crazy gym and they have the upper hand. To say it's big would be an understatement.

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