This is my first game recap in more than a week. Why so long you ask? Well, my last two just happened to be games 4 and 6 against Houston, so needless to say I was beginning to think that I was jinxed. Until Kobe hit that three and Ariza came up with the dagger, I was ready to swear off all future recaps, because I thought it was happening again. So thank you Kobe and Trevor. Thank you for maintaining my usefulness here on SS&R. I'm sure that my colleagues thank you as well.
If the Lakers don't win this series then they will have no one to blame but themselves, because you could make the case that they deserve to be down 0-3 right now. You could especially make the case that they deserved to lose this one. Denver must really like us, because only the lowly Clippers would be kind enough to jack up 27 threes and only make 5 of them. Only the hapless Grizzlies would foul us so many times that we end up making more FTs than them despite shooting 69%. Only the helpless Wizards might...well, you get my point.
So what does this all mean? I'll tell you, but only after the jump of course...
First of all, it means Kobe has a heart the size of LeBron's endorsement check. But other than that, it doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot. As Dexter Fishmore said after Game 2:
That's all it takes. When two teams are playing each other to a draw, only three possessions' worth of lineup mismanagement can determine the outcome.
And that's sort of what happened again tonight. The Nuggets played very well until the 4th quarter, and then they made just enough mistakes and gave Kobe just enough shots to let the Lakers steal one. So, did the Lakers win, or did the Nuggets lose? I'm not really sure, but again it doesn't matter. The Lakers could execute flawlessly for 46 minutes Monday night but turn the ball over in the last two and let the Nuggets win (wait, isn't that what happened in Game 2?). Do the Lakers get points for playing like the better team? No, just like the Nuggets didn't get any tonight. In a series as close as this, is makes absolutely no sense to dwell upon positives and negatives, because where are the games really won or lost? It's impossible to tell. All we can hope for is that the Lakers make the plays at he end, and that is all I will be hoping for in what promises to be a thrilling Game 4.
Now after saying all of that, I am going to contradict myself by talking about the positives and negatives of Game 3 because hey, what else could I do? Just remember that I could be talking about exactly the same things following a Lakers loss, so take it with a grain of salt.
Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. What can I say? And to think that some people wanted to keep Shaq back in 04 (no one on this blog I'm sure :p). He never ceases to amaze me, and I've even learned to stop shouting nooooo when you launch a ridiculously hard three in crunch time. Consider it a compliment of the highest order. I know it's easy to say that the Lakers would be no where without him, but not since 2006 has it been more tangible than in this series. He has single-handedly overcome an entire team not once, but twice. Granted he has gotten a little help from Ariza, but never the less it is truly remarkable considering the talent he is currently facing. For the first time in his career he has scored 40+ points twice in a series, and like a fine Chardonnay, he keeps getting better with time.
I'm not a big fan of all of the ridiculous NBA nicknames (including the Black Mamba), but if you can't beat them, join them. So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you AIRiza. After a rocky couple of road games in Utah and Houston, Trevor has elevated his game to a whole other level against the Nuggets. Yes, he got torched by Anthony in Game 1, but I think everyone agrees that Melo was just a little out of his mind that night, plus look who held him to only 21 points on 4-13 shooting tonight. Oh, and remember how bad his shooting was last year? I feel like in this series he is like 99-100 from three in the 4th quarter. Not to mention the steals, which have always been there but have become ever more timely. He's no Pippen, not yet anyways, but at age 23 he is certainly unique and is developing into one of the best second options in the league. Being a Los Angeles native and former Bruin, nothing would make me happier than to see him retire wearing the Purple & Gold (hint to Mitch Kupchak, wink wink).
Andrew Bynum seems to be progressing slowly but surely. While I would like to see him play more, I understand Phil not wanting to play him in the 4th because of his defense. Yes, he gets 3 or 4 blocks a game now, but he is also the first Laker to pick up two fouls, a good deal of which seem to be on floaters or jump shots. One game he will be on an offensive tear and get to stay in, and one of these games Gasol will get in foul trouble and he will see more minutes, but until then he needs to take Jackson's words to heart because I agree that he is a bit over aggressive on defense sometimes.
Derek "I'm Bringing Slow Feet Back" Fisher. Yes, PJ trust him, but it's not like Farmar and Brown have given him reason not to trust them. Ever since the Houston series, they have both played good defense, limited turnovers, and hit some big shots, especially UPS. When I saw JR Smith elevate and score over Fish right before Kobe hit the 3, I thought that it was over because surely Denver would be smart enough to go to that mismatch every time. Fortunately they were not, but I can guarantee you that Brown would have locked down Smith at the end. Its not like we needed Fisher's "offense" with Kobe in Mamba mode (see, I'm starting to like it more already), but even if we did, Brown or even Farmar gives us a better option anyways.
Sasha, go home to Slovania and take it easy for a few months. While you're there, go ask the
Ray Allen troll under the bridge that you pissed off for your shot back, and please don't return to El Segundo without it.
Lastly, while I was watching last night's game, I kept seeing the likes of Anderson and Jones get easy baskets and thinking, "Oh s#*t, if these guys are beating us and Anthony and Billups beat us like I know they will, we are screwed." Of course, Melo was held to 21 and Chauncey only scored 18. I'm not sure whether it was our defense (didn't seem to be) or if they were just missing shots, but I'll take it. It's important though that we not let these non-scoring threats beat us in Game 4, otherwise the result might not be so pretty.
Onwards to Game 4 and hopefully an 8th straight win at the Not-Coke Center for THE BEST DAMN ROAD TEAM IN THE NBA, BITCHES!!! (and Streak Busters too)
Go Purple & Gold!