In a beatdown that brought us all back to 95-80 Game 6 loss in the 2009 Western Conference semi-finals against the Houston Rockets, the third-seeded Lakers lost a laugher last night against the Denver Nuggets. Even the 113-96 score isn't indicative of just how poorly LA performed last night.
Outside of a very visibly sick Kobe Bryant, the Lakers got very little production from their superstars, including both Pau Gasol (who might have had his worst game ever as a Laker) and the soothsayer Andrew Bynum.
"We’re going to need more out our two bigs," Brown said as the Lakers faced the reality of going from a 2-0 series lead to a Game 7 in Los Angeles on Saturday night. "They’re our second- and third-best players. We’re going to need a lot more out of those guys in order to win the series. But not just scoring wise. Defensively. Defensively to follow the game-plan discipline and do it with some effort and some energy and really just lay it out on the line."
Mike Brown, for all the questions you may have about his rotations and minute management, is completely spot-on there. The Lakers were annihilated by the Nuggets offensive attack, allowing an embarrassing 51% shooting and a ridiculous 10 for 20 from the three-point line. That last stat is particularly telling, as it wasn't just the two bigs that couldn't contain the Nuggets on the defensive end. LA's perimeter players, especially Matt Barnes, Devin Ebanks and a dog-tired Kobe Bryant, struggled to rotate over on Denver's shooters. With Game 7 on Saturday, hopefully a returning Metta World Peace will be able to somewhat allay what helped bring down the Lakers so effectively last night.
Kevin Ding, OC Register:
World Peace was certainly missed in the Lakers' first six playoff games. He would have been the defender — not Steve Blake — when Andre Miller was carving up the Lakers defense with cagey moves.
Devin Ebanks, the replacement starter at small forward, had a nice showing after World Peace was ejected in that April 22 game vs. the Thunder, but he has gotten increasingly worse — unable even to get back in transition defense consistently and properly.
Lakers coach Mike Brown skipped Ebanks entirely to start the second half Thursday night after more mistakes in the Lakers' poor start to Game 6. But sore-ankled Matt Barnes, expected to carry a big load while World Peace was out, stayed inconsistent — especially with a 3-point stroke that led him to make just 3 of 23 attempts in this series.
The Lakers just couldn't match the energy that the Nuggets came out with last night. The key was to try and slow down the Nuggets, and control tempo from start to finish. In a move of defiance that no Lakers fan hoped for, the LA did exactly the opposite, allowing Denver to get out to a 11-0 start and igniting players like Corey Brewer, Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson who stayed hot all game. Even Kobe Bryant's offensive brilliance while fighting through a stomach bug (the Mamba took 4 bags of IV fluids before and during the game) couldn't fire up a lethargic Lakers squad. Onto Game 7 we go, with everything on the line for the supposed title contending Lake Show.
In other, more serious news, Nuggets Forward Chris Andersen was excused from the team after his home was searched as a part of an investigation relating to internet crimes against children. Andersen, who has not played in this series, has not been formally charged with anything yet.