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LAL – DEN: Game 1 Postgame #’s

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 103-88 Game 1 victory over Denver to kick off the 2011 playoff campaign:

Times the Nuggets led in a wire-to-wire Lakers victory. L.A. led by as many as 21 points.

Three-pointers drilled by Steve Blake in the first quarter, which Mike Brown said was huge for L.A. … since Denver does so much trapping and doubling, it’s important to punish them by hitting open threes. L.A. would add three more in the game, making 6 of 17 total to Denver’s 4 of 14.

Combined rebounds (2) and assists (2) Pau Gasol needed to join Andrew Bynum with a triple-double (more on his 10, 13 and 10 later). The Spaniard went for 13 points, eight assists and eight rebounds with two blocks in a solid all-around performance. Also the number of steals for Matt Barnes, playing through a sore ankle, which was more than Denver had through three quarters.

Blocked shots for Andrew Bynum, who completely dominated the game defensively, pleasing his coach greatly: "The difference in the game was Andrew Bynum,” said Mike Brown. "He can literally control the game without shooting a shot. That’s how good he is. He had 10 blocks, but I’d be curious to know how many shots he changed. That’s what Denver is very good at, finishing at the rim, getting a lot of lay ups … he was phenomenal tonight. If he continues to be the type of monster he was tonight patrolling that paint, we’ll be playing a long time.” The 10 swats matched an all-time NBA high (Hakeem Olajuwon, Mark Eaton) and surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s franchise record of nine.

Total blocks for the Lakers, led of course by Bynum’s 10, plus two apiece from Gasol and Jordan Hill and one from Barnes. "Our guys came out and played a 48-minute game,” said Brown. "They played the game the right way on the defensive end of the floor. We had very few breakdowns in our game plan.”

Free throw attempts for Denver, who constantly drove into the paint, most often meeting Bynum. The Lakers took only 15 attempts from the stripe, 11 coming from Kobe. Surprisingly, neither Bynum nor Gasol took a free throw, which almost never happens.

31 Points scored by Kobe Bryant to lead all scorers, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter, along with five boards and four assists. Brown was pleased with how Kobe empowered his teammates throughout the night to step up in various areas.

Denver’s shooting percentage on 32 of 90 field goals, including rough shooting nights from Ty Lawson (3 for 11) and Arron Afflalo (ditto) in addition to Andre Miller (5 for 13), finishes at the rim very hard to come by with Bynum and Gasol lurking. "They took a good punch at us, played a very good game, did many things better than we did,” summarized Nuggets coach George Karl, who noted that L.A. seemed to prioritize dealing with Lawson in pick and rolls, giving L.A.’s coaching staff credit.

The last time a Laker had a triple-double in a playoff game, when Magic Johnson did it against Chicago in Game 1 of the NBA Finals (19 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) before Bynum’s 10-point, 13-board, 10-block performance. Pretty impressive for the 24-year-old center, needless to say. Brown compared Bynum’s Game 1 to a great offensive lineman like Willy Roaf or Anthony Munoz, Hall of Famers who never got headlines after a big NFL win. "Andrew is so skilled that teams would be crazy to cover him with one guy, because he can go get 30 very easily,” he said. "If teams are going to double him as hard as Denver is, (he can) still impact the game (in other ways).”

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