Saturday, May 23, 2009

Denver Game 2 thoughts

Well, that was a tough one, Denver stole that one in much the way that LA stole Game 1 I guess, with the added bonus of getting some help at a critical time. And now it's anybody's series.

First quarter:
* 3 turnovers in the first 3 1/2 minutes, lucky to be down only 6-4.

* Jones gets his second foul 4 1/2 minutes in. They seem to be calling it tighter early.

* And he gets his third at 6:49. And his fourth at 6:12. Some days fouls just find you, as Bynum can attest.

* A 6-2 advantage in second chance points leads to an 18-14 lead.

* K-Mart is keeping them in early, with 10 points including 4 dunks; 21-16.

* Melo is 1/5 with 2 turnovers early, as they trail 23-16. Ariza is doing a much better job tonight.

* 31-23 at the quarter, sounds familiar huh? Kobe has 14 on, and you have to like this, 7 shots (4 made) and 6 free throw attempts (all made).

Second quarter:
* Sasha is 0/4, and the beat goes on.

* Kleiza has hit two 3's, cutting it to 35-26.

* Smith picks up his third at the 8:29 mark.

* An Odom dunk makes it 37-26 and gives the Lakers a 24-10 edge in the paint. That's how you play the game.

* The bench is helping, led by Farmar's two nice assists to get it back to 41-27.

* Now 30-12 in the paint and 43-31 overall.

* Melo is heating up; four pretty quick hoops have cut the lead to 43-35.

* Fish with a beautiful half court pss to Bynum, who beat everybody downcourt for an and-1 dunk; 51-38.

* The Lakers are 1/6 from distance, one more reason to keep pounding it inside.

* Nene has loafed back a couple if times, that can't make Karl very happy.

* Kleiza's keeping them in here; his third 3 cuts the lead back to 53-45 and he now has 9 and 8 in the quarter.

* A Billups 3 cuts it to 53-48; that's an 8-0 run. We're erasing a great half of basketball with some poor defense late.

* And now Billups hits two free throws to make it 53-50 and extend the run to 10-0.

* And Kleiza makes it 12-0 and 53-52 with two more freebies; he has 11 and 8.

* You could see it coming: Billups throwing the ball into on the baseline and Kobe with his back turned to the play and nobody else close. Billups takes the easy pass off Kobe's back for the layup, that's just low basketball IQ by KB24. And that cuts the halftime lead to 55-54, another familiar score. We gave away that whole lead in about 3 minutes of stupid play.

Third quarter:
* Jones picks up his fifth at 10:36. He shoudl have stayed home.

* Denver has another free throw edge, 16-14. So much for home court advanatge, huh?

* A spectacular Ariza dunk makes him 5/5 and 14 points and gives us a 66-64 lead.

* K-Mart just laid out Ariza with a hard foul in retaliation for that dunk. Somehow it was not called flagrant, but it clearly was, a virtual grab of the arm and throw down without even pretending to make a basketball play.

* Ariza is now 6/6, 19 points.

* Fish has forced 2-3 shots in semi-transition, poor decisions there (in fairness, he was hacked one of them). Not surprisingly, Phil pulls him.

* Billups misses another free throw. Amazing.

* Say what? Kobe and Melo tie up, and instead of a jump ball it's called a foul on Kobe. Road court advantage. Denver leads 81-80 at the end of 3.

Fourth quarter:
* Kobe is tired, lazy D in fouling Billups leads to him sitting.

* Kleiza hits his fourth 3, giving him 16 and giving them an 85-82 lead.

* Denver stretches it to 89-84, leading to a timeout at 9:43. Have to be careful here.

* And now 91-84...danger, danger!

* Fouls are killing us again, Denver is in the penalty for any fouls after 8:11.

* Kobe and ShanWOW hit huge 3's to cut it to 91-90 just when we looked to be fading.

* Lamar with a putback to give the Lakers a 92-91 lead at 7:13.

* The Kobe-Emlo matchup, when they are on each other, is bad for us both ways, surprisingly.

* Brown hits 1 of 2 to make it 93-91, 5:47 to go.

* The Lakers have a 50-32 advantage in the paint but have somehow coupled that with a 29-27 free throw disadvantage, and it's now 93-93 with 5:36 to go.

* The Lakers get into the penalty, and Pau hits two to make it 95-93; 5:23 left.

* Nene picks up his fifth foul, but Lamar bricks them both! 95-95.

* And now Odom picks up his fifth, at 4:26. And Nene nails them both, 97-95 as Denver has hit 13 straight FT. Missed FT are killing the Lakers as they did Denver in G1.

* Again, a miss, Ariza splits two and it's 97-96 Denver.

* Melo just overpowers Ariza for an offensive board and putback to make it 99-96, 2:23 to go.

* Kobe rises up for a 3 over Melo, not a great shot but it goes, 99-99 with 1:59 left.

* Billups with a vet move, diving sideways into Pau to draw the foul, and it's 101-99 with 1:44 to go.

* Off a Denver turnover, Kobe gets hacked with 45.1 to play and makes them both, tied at 101.

* Better to be lucky than good: Billups drives OC into trouble in the baseline, throws it out blindly, Fish gets a hand on it but it goes right to a diving Nene who drops it off to K-Mart for the layin and a 103-101 lead with 29.6 to go. Billups was trying ot throw it to somebody to reset the play, Fisher makes the great defensive play, just awful luck there.

* Kobe dribbles it away, and Pau was not given the timeout he called after recovering it, instead it's a jump ball with Billups - 18.6 to go, 14 on the shot clock.

* Wow, that is a jump ball that will live in infamy, we got severely hosed there. First Smith ran through the jump circle while the ball was being thrown up and tipped, that's a violation by rule and it should be Lakers ball sideout with no time off the clock. And then, having blown that call, Ariza gets the tip and Melo shoves him down, causing him to lose the ball where CB picks it up. Those people who think the refs will help LA get into the Finals must be penning their mea culpas as we speak, huh?

* Billups hits them both, 105-101 with 13.7 to go. They foul Pau hard with 7.9 to go, not sure why as he could have gotten an and-1 but it works as he gets only the two FT to make it 105-103.

* Billups is fouled at 4.3, and he...misses one! 106-103 and the door is open even after the calls.

* We got the shot we wanted, instead of letting them foul Kobe we get it to Fish for the corner 3, but Nene makes a spectacular recovery to get out on him and force it to be overarched and short. He may even have blocked it, really tough to tell on replay but it was an amazing defensive play at any rate to rotate out that fast. Not sure if Fish had time to dribble and sidestep him or not, very close and it would have been risky, at some point you just have to tip your hat to them.

This one hurts for so many reasons - the game-deciding blown calls on the jump ball, the lax play that let them erase a big lead late in the second, and just the fact that Denver would have been in some trouble down 2-0. Now it sets up a huge third game, where the Lakers can take back control of the series or Denver can get a confidence-building win to take a lead and set up a must-win road game for the Lakers on Monday. Gut check time.

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