Closeouts Are Harder Than Andrew Bynum Thinks, Kobe's Still Amazing

Build a Moat? Protect the Money? See JaVale's pockets? They just got fatter...

Last night, the Denver Nuggets were able to stave off a exciting comeback led by the great Kobe Bryant, as they beat the Lakers 102-99 in Los Angeles. With a flurry of threes, Kobe put on a show late, making us all so anxious that he could single-handedly pull the Lakers off the canvas with about 5 minutes to go. He just it wasn't enough to bail the Lakers out from what was an otherwise uninspired game.

Ken Berger ,CBS:

"I almost bailed us out, that's what happened," said Bryant, who had 43 points -- 14 in a dizzying fourth quarter -- as the Lakers lost to the Nuggets 102-99 in Game 5 of their first-round series. The Nuggets, trailing 3-2, sent the series back to Denver for Game 6 on Thursday night.

"I started making shots left and right, and that's not something that we can use to rely on to get us to a championship," Bryant said. "It can't be that. We all have to step up, we all have to contribute and we all have to play with that sense of urgency and energy."

So about closeout games being easy? Apparently they aren't what Andrew Bynum thought there they were, but I guess we should cut him some slack since he only meant if the team trying to close played hard, which the Lakers didn't do in the least bit. So let's just assume the professionals who get paid millions to play basketball were able to dig deeper than their pockets should warrant. Bulletin board material?

John Krolik, NBC ProBasketball Talk:

Mike Brown admitted what his All-Star center said could be construed as "bulletin-board material," but didn't necessarily have a problem with Bynum's comments.

"It is bulletin board material," he said. "If a guy wants to say that, in my opinion, he's got to back it up. But we all have to get his back and try to help him back it up. We did not as a team."

McGee admitted Bynum's comments were motivational, but being in the playoffs for the first time in his career was likely a bigger reason for the way he came out and dominated in a potential elimination game.

"Usually I'm nowhere near the playoffs," he said, referencing the fact that he played the past three and a half seasons for the dismal Washington Wizards, before the mid-season trade that brought him to Denver in March.

"My last game is usually, if it's a regular season, in April," he added. "I definitely didn't want tonight to be my last game."

He played like it.

Or maybe the Lakers purposely tanked just to get Metta World Peace back in time for OKC? Personally, I think everything is according to script. I picked the Lakers in 6, so I'm not surprised. JaVale McGee was allowed to audition for his next contract, and he performed well. Congrats kid. I'd like to think Bynum would show some flex in Game 6, and show he's worth the hype. The spotlight's on him even more now and the stage will be his. Once again, we'll be checking to measure his professionalism. Will he follow through? Just don't ask Kobe to write your story for you should Bynum once again leave us scratching our heads.

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