Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against Denver, the Lakers looking to build upon Game 1′s 103-88 victory, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, Ebanks, Gasol and Bynum
Denver: T. Lawson, A. Afflalo, D. Gallinari, K. Faried, K. Koufos
10:45 Most expected Denver to make some adjustments and come out
firing after being blown out easily in Game 1, but the Lakers again
asserted their will in the opening minutes, taking a 6-0 lead behind
their 7-footers: Bynum scored easily over Koufos (no double team came),
and Gasol hit two jumpers, both wide open, the first because Kenneth
Faried left Gasol to double Bynum.
8:36 The early dominance continued, as Bynum dunked on
consecutive possessions, the first after Gasol led a 2-on-1 break with
Denver trying to press a Lakers’ inbounds pass, the Spaniard streaking
up the floor before tossing an oop for his fellow 7-footer. Denver’s
time out came as they trailed 12-3. However, out of that break, Denver
finally found its fast-break game, rolling off an 8-0 run almost all in
transition, led by Lawson and Afflalo.
0:05.1 With Denver choosing not to double Kobe until he got
into the paint, Bryant went off from the rest of the floor, nailing 6 of
8 shots for 14 points, including a three-pointer with five seconds left
to put L.A. up 32-25. The Nuggets scored more effectively than in Game
1, thanks in part to two Al Harrington triples, but the Lakers were
scoring with ease, Bynum adding 10 points to Kobe’s effort, the team
shooting 61 percent.
8:30 The Lakers know exactly what Denver wants to do, and it’s
not complicated: sprint out on every make or miss. Yet like for a period
of the first quarter, missed Lakers shots led again to run outs and
layups, a 6-0 Nuggs run tying the game at 36. Mike Brown took a time out
to discuss as Kobe checked back in.
6:00 Bryant immediately rolled off five more points, reaching
19 already, figuring that if the Nuggets wanted to raise the intensity
level, he was more than happy responding in kind. Jordan Hill then hit
two free throws, and Bryant pulled up again for another jumper. On fire.
0:00 The stats told a decent story in the first: L.A. shot
53.3% to DEN’s 38.5%, with both making six free throws, suggested a big
Lakers lead. But Denver grabbed 13 offensive rebounds (LAL allowed only
11.48 O boards per game in the regular season), leading to 18 second
chance points. They also had 15 fast break points to LAL’s six, which
allowed them to trail by just seven despite the discrepancy in shooting
8:20 As L.A. started cleaning the defensive glass, some O boards
started to come at the other end, with an Ebanks window clean and pretty
extra pass from Gasol getting Bynum a layup, then Bryant’s own O board
resulting in his pretty and-1 jumper after getting Afflalo in the air.
Bynum was the next to climb on the offensive glass, and his put-back
made it 69-52, capping a 12-0 run that became 14-0 with an Ebanks
jumper. Bynum had 20, and Kobe 27 already.
4:46 It was the Lakers calling time out moments later,
however, as Ty Lawson went on a personal 7-0 scoring run, getting
repeatedly to the basket for three field goals plus a free throw,
cutting the lead back to 12 at 71-59. Still a long ways to go here for
L.A. to let up.
0:23.0 Despite the Nuggets hitting a ridiculous 11 of 12
shots, many of them around the rim, L.A. held onto a 7-point lead
heading into the fourth quarter, as Bynum (career playoff high 24
points) and Bryant (33 points, of course nowhere near a playoff career
high) kept scoring. Teams both scored 26 points in the period, but
L.A.’s coaches couldn’t be too thrilled with how many easy buckets were
being conceded at the rim.
7:50 Sessions, displeased with a call on Corey Brewer’s missed
dunk (he appeared not to touch Brewer) responded with consecutive field
goals to push L.A.’s lead back to 14, when Denver had cut it to five
with a hoop to start the final quarter. Bryant was on the bench for all
but the second Sessions hoop (which was his first assist, incidentally),
clapping as the bench (Sessions, Blake, Barnes, Hill and Gasol) rebuilt
6:00 L.A.’s lead at the six-minute mark, when most NBA teams
want to be within 10 points for a final chance at a comeback, was nine
at 92-83. The starters were in to try and close Denver out, a 2-0 series
lead on the line, heading into Friday’s Game 3. Gallinari, who’d been
far outplayed by his sub at SF, Brewer, missed a wide-open transition
three that could have cut it to four, but Lawson’s transition pull-up
after Kobe’s baseline miss made it 92-87 at the 4:35 mark, capping an
3:00 Ebanks committed a charge as the Nuggets were on a 14-4
run, again cutting the lead to four after L.A. had pushed it to eight on
Bryant’s three-pointer. L.A.’s offense stagnated as Kobe isolated on
three straight trips, the two misses leading to Faried free throws
(4-of-4) that again cut the lead to four, but Bryant stripped Faried on
the next trip down, pushed the ball to the rim himself and fed Bynum for
an and-1 dunk that made it 98-91 with 2:15 to play.
0:20.9 Sessions stepped up in crunch time first with a floater
to keep the lead at six with 1:14 left, and then again by hitting both
free throws at the 20.9 mark, countering a McGee tip in, to make it
102-96. Lawson got to the rim for a layup, but Bryant’s two free throws
answered, giving him 38 points. Denver would get a final tip in, the
winning score thus 104-100. Game 3 is on Friday in Colorado – see you