Denver Game 3 thoughts
A championship performance that left both teams and their fans drained, let's get right to it.
* Fish drains a J on the first possession, good sign.
* But he misses two FT, very uncharacteristic even in a shooting slump.
* Bynum picks up his 2nd foul with 6:06 to go, and he was a force on defense too with 2 blocks and general paint chaos until then.
* Carmelo has 10 already, in a 14-13 game.
* Ugly...Trevor just gives the ball away on a 3 on 1 break, putting Melo on the line again.
* Lakers are 3/8 from the line, Denver 8/9. Missed FT have been deciding factors in each of the first two games, need to knock them down.
* Make that 4/10 to 11/13, and that's why they lead 28-26 at the quarter.
* Denver goes on a 6-0 run against the bench; 34-26.
* The Lakers are 5/12 from the line.
* Andersen has 9 on 4/5 shooting as they lead 38-33.
* Kobe hits back to back layups on s secondary break and a reversed pick and roll to tie it 39-39. Great to see him attacking instead of being passive.
* Bynum picks up his third foul at 4:21. That one's on Pau as the 6'8" Kleiza was able to tip a rebound away from him to Nene, forcing Bynum to hack.
* Kleiza's starting off well again, 2 points and 2 offensive rebounds right after checking in.
* How many freaking uncalled goaltends are they going to get away with this series? Jesus...
* LA now 8/16 from the line, Denver 17/20. Those are 9 big points.
* Andersen has 13, and Denver leads 50-44. Last game it was Kleiza, this time it's Birdman, killing us off the bench.
* Kleiza gets a dunk off a jump ball 80 feet away, poor job by Ariza getting back there, inexcusable.
* Ariza hits a 3 and Kleiza gets a dumb tech to let us close to within 52-48 at the half. The missed free throws (8) and poor transition defense (15 fast break points for Denver) make that 4 point deficit look pretty good.
* We get it tied 52-52 but they go on an 8-1 run to get it right back to 60-53. Always playing uphill tonight.
* Jones commits a clear flagrant foul on Kobe, a hard shove in the back while he's airborne (no flagrant called). This is at least as bad, and probably worse, than the foul Ariza committed on Rudy Fernandez earlier this year that was called a flagrant 2 and also caused a one game suspension.
They pretend that it's about the actual contact, but in reality it's about how the guy lands and whether he gets hurt on those kinds of plays. Nobody can reasonably argue that shoving from behind a guy who is extended trying to layup the ball is worse than hitting the ball itself, unless they are an irrational Portland fan.
* Ariza goes down on another push from behind, causing him to fall into and over Pau and hit the floor hard. This one not only doesn't merit a flagrant, it doesn't even get a foul call at all. I think they just did not see the push, not a bad call just a missed one.
* Wow, a loose ball results in Nene diving into the legs of Fisher and Pau and then jumping on top of Pau and...jump ball! And in the leadup to the jump, Fish and K-Mart get into a little shoving match for a double tech, but somehow only Fish is called.
To recap, that's two fouls on Denver and a double tech, and the result is a Denver free throw and possession. Unreal.
There have been a series of egregious calls in Denver's favor over the last few minutes, swinging probably 8 or 10 points their way that could really matter later.
* Nene picks up his 4th foul at 5:48.
* And Melo gets his 3rd and then his 4th at 5:01. Back to back, a defensive foul and a clear hook on the offensive end. They are tightening it up, tough for Denver who has been getting help all series and now has to adjust.
* Kobe with an and-1 to tie it at 64.
* Ariza heads to the locker room, hopefully he will return as we don't have a lot of wing depth.
* Our 11th missed free throw; now 17/28 and trailing 66-65, ouch.
* You can see how little confidence the guys have in Sasha's shot: he threw up a 2 from the left baseline and Kobe and Lamar almost knocked each other down going for the offensive board.
* Denver gets two offensive boards on a possession to take a 73-68 lead. Just working harder there.
* Sasha hits a 3 to cut it to 73-71. Pigs took flight.
* Billups hits a pullup 3 to make it 76-71. Big mistakje by Kobe there, you can't back off and play him for the drive when he's walking up to the 3 point line.
* JR hits a dagger 3 in Sasha's face at the bizzer to give them a 79-71 lead. He reacts like a sixth grader, screaming at Sasha for several seconds to draw a well-earned tech that will be shot to start the 4th.
* Ariza is back, great news.
* Andersen has 15-7-2 on 6/8 shooting. As I said, Kleiza was the key to their G2 effort and Birdman is the same tonight.
* Farmar commits a stupid jump in the air and come down with the ball turnover and then gets a stupid tech. 80-74 Denver.
* Farmar turns it over on a second straight possession and gets a well-deserved seat on the bench.
* Nene is hit with his 5th foul at 8:54.
* Trevor's 3 gives us an 81-80 lead at 7:32. That's the first lead since 12-11.
* Melo splits two FT, his first second half point to tie it at 81 with 7:06 left. Credit Luke for a lot of that defense, Ariza was in the locker room for most of the third.
* A K-Mart tipin gives them an 85-83 lead.
* Ugh, a terrible play by Kobe, fouling Billups on a corner 3 for a 4 point play to make it 89-86. Just a killer to give up 4 points on a trip.
* Pau makes back to back TOUGH jumpers over Nene to give us a 90-89 lead. Grown ass man shots, those.
* Smith hits a jumper to put them up 91-90.
* Kobe gets an and-1 but misses the freebie; 92-91.
* Nene has hip checked Fish on 2-3 picks this quarter, Phil needs to get that to be a point of emphasis going forward.
* Ariza fouls Melo away from the play; he hits them both to put them back up 93-92.
* Nene draws a charge on Fish on a bang-bang play at 2:07, great play.
* K-Mart goes over Lamar's back after a missed Smith 3 attempt, probably not the shot they wanted. Lamar splits them, that's 13 missed FT in a 93-93 game with 1:46 left.
* Smith hits a nice free throw line jumper to put them up 95-93 with a minute and a half to play.
* Kobe hits a cold-blooded 3 over Smith's contact on...something, hand/ball/whatever, to put us up 96-95 with 1:09 to go. Amazing shot.
* K-Mart misses from close range and Pau pulls down a huge board in traffic. JR fouls Kobe at 38.3 and Kobe misses the second (14th missed FT), 97-95 as Denver takes a timeout at 37.1.
* K-Mart almost draws a five second call trying to inbound against the hydra defense of Lamar, causing him to take a timeout just in time.
* Oh my God! Odom causes another bad inbound, Ariza jumps it again, Melo fouls out grabbing Ariza from behind on what probably should have been a clear path foul.
He knocks them down, 99-95 with 36.5 to go.
* Odom fouls Billups at 24.6, no need to foul there up 4, let them score if they can. He cans them to close to 99-97.
* Kobe is fouled on the inbounds by K-Mart, he fouls out. Kobe makes them, 101-97 with 22.2 left.
* Billups panics a bit and launches a LONG contested 3 with 15 seconds left that catches nothing but air, Kobe is fouled on the rebound at 12.4. Not a good play there, they should be extending the game instead of trying last second style shots, and Chauncey is supposed to be the wily vet...not that time.
Kobe hits them, 103-97 and that will do it.
The Lakers outscored them 32-18 in a 4th quarter that saw Denver shoot 5/22.
Melo scored three points on 4 shots in the second half, no field goals.
Kobe was brilliant down the stretch; LeBron may be the best player in the world by a good margin but the old guy is still here and can still do it in a given game.
The Lakers shot 28 free throws to their 11 in the second half and 45-31 for the game, several of those were intentional late but it's nice that we finally got a fair shake in a game (albeit with some rough patches).
Both teams have to be drained; I hope we have enough in the tank to put up a good effort tonight as this is a golden opportunity to put them on the ropes.