What better way to describe last night's great performance? And what better way to head into the Finals?
Here are your Lakers Links:
Boxscore: Lakers 119 - Nuggets 92
Click on through to read all the love we're getting now...
"There are a lot of people, myself included, that said after the last game "These are the Lakers I remember." But no they are not, they are better. It was one thing to play like the Lakers did tonight against a lesser team that had no time to scout them in January. It’s another thing entirely to do it against a very athletic, confident team in a playoff series where that team has time and games to scout you and know what you do."
The Los Angeles Times:
Mike Bresnahan: Lakers finally arrive
"In a season of redemption, where the Lakers decided from day one to finish off what they couldn't a year ago, another authoritative step was taken toward an NBA championship.
Those who questioned the Lakers' resolve were quieted. Those who wondered if they were too fatigued now know the answer."
Bill Plaschke: Lakers don't want to settle for the door prize this time
"They clapped but only politely. They smiled but only barely......Are you ready for a five-game Lakers victory? That is the prediction here, it doesn't matter what team they play."
Broderick Turner: Nuggets unable to prove they're better
" 'I think we're better than them, actually, to be honest," said [Kenyon] Martin, still stubborn. "But we didn't prove that. That's obvious, cause they're moving on and we're not. But I think we have a better team than they do.' "
(Ladies and gentlemen, Kenyon Martin. The King of the Dunk Yell, down by 20.)
T.J. Simers: I'm an Ass.
The Orange County Register
Jim Miller: Lakers show killer instinct
"The Lakers do, in fact, possess the very thing so many of us doubted from them....The Lakers, in their previous playoff round, famously lacked that instinct, possessing more of a wounder instinct, an ability to severely discourage Houston and then severely disappoint with their next effort.
But good luck trying to convince the Nuggets and George Karl that the Lakers are missing anything. Karl is a believer, one of the converted.
After watching Kobe Bryant lead this 119-92 Lakers no-doubter, Denver’s coach said, 'I think Jesus would have had trouble covering him.'
Kevin Ding: Bynum ready for NBA Finals
"Andrew Bynum has been watching and preparing.
He has been preparing to play defense in the NBA Finals.
Here’s what Bynum had to say about the Eastern Conference finals, which he is watching not just for fun, but to discern subtleties about Orlando’s Dwight Howard or Cleveland’s LeBron James that can help him stop whichever one the Lakers face in the NBA Finals....
...There’s a simple reason that Bynum is studying: 'With those teams, I think if you take one of their key players away, you have a good chance of winning,' he said....
...'We’ve gotta -- gotta -- play defense,' Bynum said. 'That’s the big thing. If we move the ball on offense, we’ll be fine -- against anybody. It’s just all about our defense and not letting people get to the cup.'
...The Lakers can easily score without Bynum. To defend to the reaches of their greatest aspirations, they need Bynum."
(Last night? It finally seemed like he got it. The fouls he took were not cheap ones, and it seemed like it stuck in Denver's head.)
"The average Lakers fan might groan when Andrew Bynum yet again commits a foul that sends him to the bench. Just so you know, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher do not.
Both Lakers co-captains believe it is of paramount importance that Bynum be a defensive force in the paint — preferably blocking or changing shots, but also pounding some dudes when they otherwise would have clear, confidence-building sailing to the basket. Fisher reiterated that point after the Lakers’ Game 6 victory in which Bynum committed his second foul midway through the first quarter and had to go to the bench. That foul was a hard one that upset Kenyon Martin, who then split the two foul shots.
'He continues to make sacrifices,' Fisher said, pointing out how all of Bynum’s teammates notice when he gives those hard fouls rather than avoiding it to make sure he avoids foul trouble.' "
LA Daily News' Ramona Shelburne: Lakers' storm ends with reign out West
"It began like a thunderhead rolling in slowly across the prairie. Growing darker, picking up speed the closer it got to town.
After a summer of depression, a season dreaming of redemption, and a postseason fighting back their own demons, the Lakers finally rained down, thunderously and violently in one almost flawless, beautiful storm of a Game 6.
The 119-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets was breathtaking in its dominance and inspiring in its artistry."
20 Second Timout's David Friedman: "No Mercy" Bryant produces, Directs and Stars as Lakers Smash Nuggets
"ESPN's Mike Wilbon and Jon Barry strained to fit Bryant's performance into the Procustean bed of their belief that the Lakers are better off when Bryant shoots less often but their postgame narrative did not match what actually happened; they claimed that Bryant somehow conserved energy by being a facilitator early and a "closer" late but Bryant scored 18 points on 6-10 field goal shooting with six assists in the first half and he scored 17 points on 6-10 field goal shooting with four assists in the second half."
(I love the way he puts Kobe in proper perspective and manages to slam Wilbon, Barry, and even John Krolik.)
- Kevin Arnovitz: "The Lakers had ignored Gasol for much of the series, and relegated him mostly to dribble hand-offs at the pinch post when they used him at all -- an absolute waste. When you have the best passing big man in basketball, it's a crime not to utilize that talent. Friday night, they abided.
The Lakers' issues in this postseason has never been about heart, and rarely been about effort. It's a matter of execution, exploiting their vastly superior skill set in a system perfectly tailored to their talent."
- Fantastic: Phil Jackson trusted Trevor Ariza to shoot
- J.A. Adande: "They've been trying to tell us they had it in them all postseason. Finally, the game on the court matched the talk. Finally, it's time to believe them."
- John Hollinger: "The Hornets thought they'd be back in contention when their season ended a year ago, and the Jazz thought the same thing the year before that when they made it to the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets learned a lot in this group's first venture past the first round of the playoffs, but it remains an open question whether they'll have a chance to apply what they learned next spring."
- Chris Mannix: " 'We saved our best game for last," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "Tonight was a game where we played at the highest level.'
Especially Kobe. Though it can be argued that his level was even higher."
(Thursday, Mannix didn't think the Lakers could play better than Wednesday night. Take that Chris.)
- Richard Diestch: "While the loss of James would reduce some buzz from the Finals, the worst-case scenario for the NBA would be if the Lakers failed to defeat the Nuggets. Los Angeles represents the No. 2 television market in the country, with an estimated 5,654,260 television households. A star of Bryant's magnitude in L.A. has proven to be a huge ratings bonanza in the '09 playoffs: ESPN's Game 4 telecast of the Western Conference Finals earned a 6.9 rating and 9,883,000 viewers, the most-viewed NBA game ever on cable, the most-viewed program this year on cable, and ESPN's most-viewed basketball game ever. (Playoff ratings on both TNT and ESPN are up double digits compared to '08). Bryant's No. 24 jersey was the top seller at the NBA Store in New York and on the league's merchandising site (James ranks No. 2) this season, and the Lakers topped the list of the NBA's most popular team merchandise for the sixth time in seven years."
(Nothing to worry about now, NBA.)
New York Times
- Howard Beck: "This had been a taut series, rife with hard fouls, accusations of dirty play and complaints about officiating. There was nothing to debate in the finale."
- William C. Rhoden: "Even as the public becomes riveted by these playoffs, there continues to be an undercurrent of cynicism — almost snickering. The game, thanks largely to officials, has become part carnival. It might as well have bearded ladies, three-headed dogs and the man with a million tattoos."
The Sporting News' Bethlehem Shoals: "...But for now, Bryant and his Lakers will ride into the Finals well-rested and with the momentum of this gem of a performance behind them. That's a hell of an accomplishment—unless you're Kobe Bryant. That's probably one thing on which he and his sworn enemies would agree."
The New Republic: "No matter--the refereeing is terrible. The television ratings have been terrific, and with the Lakers in the finals, the ratings should continue to be stellar. But, if anecdotal evidence counts for anything, fans are becoming increasingly disgusted. I do think Simmons' conspiracy theories near the end of his piece are a little bit ridiculous. In this recalcitrant and secretive league, however, overreacting with the hope that doing so may force change seems like the wise course."
dEdge: "The Lakers have quietly built up their momentum heading into the Finals. Utah was a tune-up. Houston tested the Lakers mental toughness. And Denver proved that the Lakers can play with anyone in a physical series. The engine is humming, the blood is boiling, and the Lakers are playing at peak performance."
- Matt Steinmetz: "Martin was supposed to be the one getting inside Gasol's head. Never happened. Instead, Martin was reduced to little more than a scoffer, smirker and shaker of the head by series end.
Are the Lakers too soft to win an NBA title? We'll find out soon enough. But against the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, they were so skilled that toughness didn't matter."
- RoundCast (w/ Josh Tucker, Brett Pollakoff, and Matt Moore)
"Matt Moore and I welcomed Josh Tucker of Silver Screen and Roll to the RoundCast, to discuss L.A.'s big win, as well as what might lie ahead for the Lakers on their road to redemption in this year's Finals.
Are the Cavs or the Magic the better matchup? Can Lamar Odom continue to play to his potential? Will Derek Fisher ever stop shooting the PUJIT?"
New Kobe/LeBron puppet commercials: