If you would have had to guess which team had not played since Sunday smart money says that most people would have assumed the Lakers were the better rested team because they out hustled the Nuggets for the majority of tonight’s game. However, the Lakers were actually on the tail end of back-to-back games having won in Minnesota last night, but still managed to have seven more assists, four more steals, four more blocks, and shot a better percentage from the field than the Nuggets.
Sure, AI may have won the individual battle with 51 points, eight assists, two rebounds, and a steal in comparison to Kobe’s 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block. But, it was the Lakers team defense that found a way to hold him to a mere two points in the fourth quarter along with only allowing the Nuggets to score 19 collectively to win the war. Furthermore, it was the Laker bench and supporting cast where the rest of tonight’s slack was made up. The Lakers had two other twenty-point scorers in Derek Fisher (20) and Vladimir Radmanovic (21) compared to the Nuggets only having Carmelo Anthony (26) reach the twenty-point mark. Plus, the Laker reserves outscored the Nuggets reserves, 35-20.
And the Nuggets were not without their chance to win this game, but when Allen Iverson couldn’t do it all himself in the final minutes and turned to his fellow Nuggets for help nobody was home. With only three minutes to play, the Nuggets were leading, 102-99, before allowing the Lakers to go on a 12-5 run as if they just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to close the game out. Kobe Bryant scored the next six points for the Lakers after a Radmanovic free-throw tied the game. Carmelo then proceeded to have two lay-ups thoroughly erased by Andrew Bynum and missed a three-point attempt. Leaving the Nuggets no choice but to foul the NBA’s second leading free-throw shooter, Derek Fisher, and have to endure the agony that is having to watch him ice the game from charity stripe.
My only other mentionable note about this game was Marcus Camby recording his sixth twenty-plus rebounding effort of the season with an even 20 boards tonight. But, the harsh reality still reamains that he didn’t give the Nuggets much of anything else by not scoring a single point and only blocking one shot in 40 minutes of action.
Now the 11-8 Nuggets have to travel to Dallas to play the 12-7 Mavericks tomorrow night on the backside of back-to-back games. A position the Nuggets have not fared well in so far this year with a record of 2-3 in the second game. Needless to say, I don’t have a good feeling about tomorrow night.