Found May 02, 2012 on
Fox Sports West:
LOS ANGELES -- Despite the fact that they head back home down 2-games-to-none in their opening round playoff series against the Lakers, the Denver Nuggets aren't going back as a thoroughly beaten basketball team.
Yes, Los Angeles took Game One convincingly, never trailing and finishing with a 103-88 win. Kobe Bryant scored 31 and center Andrew Bynum collected his first-ever triple-double13 rebounds, 10 points and 10 blocksthe blocked shots equalling Hakeem Olajuwon's NBA playoff record. Tuesday's game was quite similar, with the Lakers building a 19 point lead71-52--halfway through the third quarter and looking invincible.
They weren't, as the Nuggets never quit trying, and with1:29 left in the game the Lakers were clinging to a 98-94 lead. Ramon Sessions scored four points and Kobe added the Lakers' final two points from the free throw line to give the Lakers a 104-100 lead.
L.A. realizes that the entire tone of the series may have changed in the fourth quarter, and that their trip to the Rocky Mountains won't be a vacation.
"We have to play better there," said Bynum, who scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Game Two. "We have to control the tempo of the game. We need to pound the ball inside. They can't stop me, and I expect to be even better when we (get to) Denver."
Bryant had a game-high 38 points wasn't at all fazed by the Nuggets comeback, and feels the Lakers did what they had to do on their home court.
"We're playing well," he said, "and we just have to continue to play with the focus we had (with the game on the line). We're playing fine.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge up (in Denver). They're going to shoot the ball with a lot more confidence, be a lot more comfortable. (The Pepsi Center) is going to be rockin' and rollin'
Nuggets coach George Karl said he knows the Lakers have the experience edge, but he's more concerned about the play of two players in particular.
"It's the experience of their stars," Karl said. "(Pau) Gasol and Kobe. Gasol doesn't put great numbers up, but he's probably their best passer out there on the court. He' just kind of understands what the hell is going on out there. For a seven-foot-one guy to be able to do that is pretty incredible stuff. And Kobe's will to win is a talent.
"The thing our players have ti understand is that we need fivemaybe sixguys playing at a higher level to beat them. They might only need two or three guys playing at a high level to beat us."
Nuggets' point guard Ty Lawson says as the series goes on it important not to give Bynum and Pau Gasol too much respect in the down low.
"(On offense) we've got to engage the bigs," said Lawson, who scored 25 with 7 assists in Game Two. "We came off a lot of screens (in Game One) and we didn't try to take it inside because (Bynum) was blocking a lot of shots.
"Today we attacked (the inside). We've got to continue to attack down there. And we've also got to get stops.
"(Controlling the (pace) is important for us, but we can't run after they make a dunk or a three."
Right now, although Denver left Los Angeles feeling confident they can still win the series, the reality is that the Lakers have taken a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series 43 times in their history, winning 42 of them.
And there always 2011 to remind them of how quickly things can turn negative, Gasol saying that last year's humiliating sweep by Dallas in round two is still fresh in the Lakers' psyche.
"Even though some of the guys weren't here last year, we're encouraging and reinforcing in (everyone) to be focused and be aggressive," he said following his 13-point, 10-rebound double-double. "(We need to be) real intense when we're out there, as much as we can possibly be.
"It's an opportunity for us to grow again (as a team) as we go on the road and see what we're capable of against (Denver).
"It will be a good test and it's a step that's needed if we want to be successful and win the (first) round."
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
For once, Kobe Bryant smiled. For once, Andrew Bynum frowned.
The Lakers' two best players appeared to trade roles. Bryant usually remains stoic and serious during the NBA playoffs. Bynum often appears carefree.
Yet, the circumstances surrounding their differing body language actually revealed how they are resembling each other.
The Lakers' 104-100 Game 2 victory Tuesday...
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Please click the link to read the rest of this story and watch recap footage of the game.
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Please click the link below to read the rest of this article and watch a recap video.
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