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Nuggets blow out Lakers to force a Game 7

May 11, 2012, 2:17 AM EDT

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Denver more than held serve on its home court in Thursday night’s Game 6 against the Lakers; the team made a statement. Facing their second elimination game of the series, the Nuggets made sure this one was never in doubt, opening the game on a 13-0 run and leading by as many as 28 points while cruising to an easy 113-96 win to even the series at three games apiece.

Game 7 is Saturday in Los Angeles.

“There’s no way I thought what happened tonight would happen,” Nuggets head coach George Karl said afterward. But really, the way his team has competed in every game since the first one of the series, the way that Game 6 played out wasn’t all that surprising.

Ty Lawson set the tone for Denver from the very beginning, and finished with 32 points in 30 minutes, shooting 13-of-18 from the field, 5-of-6 from three-point distance, while adding five rebounds and six assists. Andre Miller was once again solid off the bench running the offense, and Corey Brewer was able to provide an offensive spark for Denver in this one, as well.

On the Lakers side, it was once again the story of too much Kobe Bryant and not enough from anyone else. Bryant was physically ill heading into the contest, and missed shootaround altogether due to a stomach virus. He required an IV treatment before the game and another at halftime just so he would have enough fluids in his system to be able to go.

“My room resembled a scene from ‘The Exorcist,'” Bryant said of his day spent with the illness. While he clearly did not appear to be himself, he played well, and finished with 31 points in 37 minutes on 13-of-23 shooting.

But for the second straight game, Pau Gasol was completely non-existent, and it wasn’t just his 1-of-10 shooting that saw him finish with only three points. Gasol was slow in his defensive rotations, and really seems to have either a lack of focus, interest, or both since Andrew Bynum has emerged as the team’s preferred number two option.

In this series, neither Gasol nor Bynum have been a legitimate offensive option at all. Denver’s defense continues to sag on the Lakers’ bigs inside, and L.A.’s perimeter players not named Kobe have failed to consistently respond. Bynum was at least somewhat active, grabbing 16 boards and blocking four shots to aid the Lakers’ effort. But his team needed more than the 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting he was able to muster.

After the Lakers’ horrific overall effort in Game 5, and with the absence of energy to start the game once again in Game 6, there’s no guarantee that they will be able to flip a magical switch when they’re faced with their own elimination game in Los Angeles on Saturday. One bright spot for L.A. will be the return of Metta World Peace to the starting lineup, after serving his seven-game suspension for the elbow he landed to the head of Oklahoma City’s James Harden a couple of weeks back.

But the Lakers problems go deeper than the defensive intensity and occasional three-point shooting that he might be able to bring. Gasol has to find a way to impact the game if the Lakers are to compete in Game 7 and beyond, and can no longer fail to contribute on either end of the court if his team is to have a chance.

Role players like Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Ramon Sessions are going to have to consistently knock down open shots to give their big men some room to operate in the paint, and L.A. is going to have to find a way to slow down Lawson, tighten up the rotations defensively, and bring the intensity from the start if the Lakers want to make it out of the first round.

None of this has happened consistently in this series, of course, and it hasn’t happened at all in the past two games. The talent is there for the Lakers to beat this Nuggets team one more time at home on Saturday, but it will take maximum effort from everyone on the roster to make it happen, along with some adjustments from Mike Brown in the way L.A. uses its weapons offensively.

Given all of that, despite having to go on the road for a Game 7, you have to believe that this Denver team likes its chances.

  1. abchome - May 11, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    First it’s bonehead Bynum’s “kind of easy” in Game 5, then it’s bonehead Brown’s “pack for 3 games” in Game 6. What’s next?!

  2. zblott - May 11, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Pau Gasol plays bad = Lakers can’t hang.
    Bynum doesn’t dominate = makes it worse.
    Kobe’s scoring = no correlation with team success.

    Gasol better get his act together quick if the Lakers plan on making it to a Round Two spanking.

    • chuckj1234 - May 11, 2012 at 3:54 AM

      Did you see Kobe talking to Mike Brown saying leave me in coach? Chris Paul did it and I can to. NOT!!!!
      .

    • therealhtj - May 11, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Gasol is just trying to make sure he doesn’t get traded. Just when we thought his trade value couldn’t get any lower.

  3. 00maltliquor - May 11, 2012 at 2:49 AM

    The Lakers should be EMBARRESSED for the way they played the last two games!!! Utterly DISGUSTING!! They do not even deserve to win game 7 at home! Everyone needs to get their sorry sad sack selves up off the floor and save face, even the Bulls as depleted as they were put up an epic battle and fought tooth and nail. SICKENING. I am disgusted. Goodnight.

    AND WHY THE FU__ DOES STEVE BLAKE PLAY SO MANY G__D__N MINUTES?!

    • davidly - May 11, 2012 at 4:03 AM

      AND WHY THE FU__ DOES STEVE BLAKE PLAY SO MANY G__D__N MINUTES?!
      On the counta LA sent Fish away.

      • cosanostra71 - May 11, 2012 at 9:57 AM

        yeah, Fisher was playing so well before we traded him.

  4. storebrandcookies - May 11, 2012 at 3:08 AM

    Oh how the t.v. ratings will fall if the Lakers lose game 7.

    I bet Stephen A. Smith has a few words to say about this.

    • skids003 - May 11, 2012 at 7:24 AM

      That’s why Kobe will take 50 shots in game 7, and get every call.

      • bozosforall - May 11, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        The Celtics were the ones getting calls last night, idiot.

      • andyhr17 - May 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        …and your Lakers were the ones choking.

  5. ihavenonickname - May 11, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    Kobe was great, too bad we will never remember his performance bc this was such an awful game. Other then that, this was the Lakers as usual: Bynum was being a baby and brat, Pau was limp, weak and had little impact.
    Nice game for RamSesh, tho.

    • dal24la - May 11, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      I said before the game I thought Kobe would have his own version of MJ’s “Flu Game”.
      Unfortunately this will be remembered as the game the Lakers looked like the 2011 Bobcats playing the 2000-01 Lakers (during the playoffs).

  6. slumdog66 - May 11, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    Lakers suck the big one.

    • bozosforall - May 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      slumdog66 sucks every one. Then pays them for the privilege.

  7. moseskkim - May 11, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    Lakers need some legit shooters who can space the floor. Every year there are players that are gotten on the cheap and play good d/shoot the 3. Pietrus, delonte, battier to name a few. Lakers get kapono, sign Blake and Barnes. Sigh. I can’t believe I’m excited to have metta back.

    • jsprunner - May 11, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      Get used to adding players “on the cheap”. Kobe’s extension kicks in the next 3 years eating up a disproportionate amount of cap space for a 35-36-37 year old player. Then they will have to extend Bynum soon. Salary cap hell for the foreseeable future for the Lakers….

    • therealhtj - May 11, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      Actually the remaining part of his extension is for the next two years for 27 & 30 mil. Still two franchise players worth of salary for one declining star who’ll be 34 & 35. You got the salary cap hell right, just get your facts straight.

      In any case, if Kobe wants to know why he didn’t win more rings, he can look back at his contract.

      There is a way for him to fix this. He can ask to be released from his contract. No team has the cap space to pick him up off waivers. Dump Pau for draft picks or something of value, provided he has a stellar Olympic run. Then the Lakers can resign Kobe on the cheap and have plenty of cash for a max free agent (Deron Williams perhaps) and complimentary pieces. If he really is “all about the rings” let’s see him give up $57 mil. No? Yeah, I didn’t really think he would either. If he were, he would’ve taken a lot less to begin with.

      • ihavenonickname - May 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        Its a good point and nice idea about kobe, but has any star EVER tried to not get max money so their team would be better to the tune of 57M? The heat players don’t don’t count cuz they gave up very little, imo.

  8. newgene1187 - May 11, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    And I still cry “OVER-RATED”. Kobe is THE most Overrated AllStar. Simply put, he was first a good player with a TOTALLY dominate Big Man in Shaq and a GREAT Coach with a dominate Offensive Scheme. Now he’s supposedly compared to MJ at 33? GOAT quotes?? Please, give me a break. Not even the greatest Laker. Just a talented ball player that had fortunate pieces around him. The real kobe can stand up now. If only Vince, Grant Hill, Stackhouse, and TMac wouldn’t have gotten hurt…or A.I and Ray Allen had a shaq and not an old mutombo or NO big man at all. Kobe is tremendously overrated. Very skilled but GOAT and comparisons to Kobe: NOOO. Jordan never lost a finals. Kobe gets too much credit. Just a selfish skilled sg that had one of the greatest coaches running a offense scheme that’s unmatched. Get off Kobe’s nuts

    • ihavenonickname - May 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      So your all-time shooting guard ranking goes #1 MJ, #2 Kobe… Ya so does everyone elses! what’s your point? cuz there is no arguing that crop of players you listed is even close.

  9. elnogo - May 11, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    Gasol is saving his A game for the Olympics. Lol.

  10. infectorman - May 11, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    YES!!!

  11. starship7 - May 11, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    This was not Utah in the NBA finals and Kobe is NOT Michael Jordan even though he wanted this to be his own “flu game”.

  12. omniusprime - May 11, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    A serious lack of coaching is what allowed the Nuggets to beat the Lakers. Yet again Mike Brown has proven he doesn’t deserve to be an NBA coach, certainly not for the Lakers. Yet again Brown failed to prepare the team for a closeout game properly. Kobe did his part last night but Bynum and Gasol really stunk up the court. I’m glad MWP will be back for game 7, he’ll bring some much needed defensive intensity to the Lakers. Go Kobe!!!! Go Lakers!!!!

    • dal24la - May 11, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      Karl has coached circle around Mike Brown (just like Rivers did last time Brown was in the playoffs). Unfortunately the Lakers STILL could have won the series by now if any of their players did an acceptable job. Nobody is without fault, but dishonorable mention goes to Pau, Blake, and Ebanks.

  13. cdog0o7 - May 11, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Gasol no longer has true trade value for his salary.

    This means – #16 (I refuse to say his name ever again because he’s such a lazy/halfhearted bum) has got to go.

    Im sure there are teams that would give up assets for him – the next eddy curry of basketball players…

  14. mungman69 - May 11, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Kobe will feel better in game 7.

  15. diehardcubbiefan4life - May 11, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    Chris Smoove Voice: “You ain’t Micheal Jordan baby!”

  16. rayburns - May 11, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Maybe the Lakers were following Skip Bayless’ advice about not closing out this series early so that they get back Metta World War and force the Thunder to have too much rest…

    eyeroll

  17. AlohaMrHand - May 11, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    anyone else think the rest of the Lakers quit the past 2 games?I really think they are attempting to get Mike Brown fired.Kobe may not like brown but he’s not going to quit.

  18. loungefly74 - May 11, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    well…as a Laker fan, i am super pissed about their stinky performances/efforts. if they play like that in game 7, its all over…and it would call for some drastic changes in the organization. i’m upset how the “bigs” are lolligagging around and the bench is only providing minimal spark. i can only hope crazy ron-ron gets everyone fired up. wow…did i just say the Laker season falls on artest getting the team ready? yikes.

    go Lakers…

  19. thetooloftools - May 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    The Lakers are playing with no sense of urgency whatsoever. They are sleepwalking through games and the offense is just standing around.

  20. shockexchange - May 11, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Wonder who Robert Horry, Jr. is going to throw under the bus if the Lakers don’t advance?

  21. passerby23 - May 11, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Even if the Lakers play an inspired Game 7 and win, what are they going to have left for a rested, prepared Thunder team who give the Lakers all kinds of matchup problems with homecourt advantage? They are going to sweep them. Denver actually provides a tougher matchup for OKC.

  22. 00maltliquor - May 12, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    OMG that gave me a damn good laugh! -Kobe Bryant Action Figure…Playoff Edition- …for good luck! LMAO. Ahhh that was classic bro, I needed that pretty bad. It’s even funnier when you read that ah, ha, ha part in Family Guy, Peter Griffin voice! I hope your right my dude. Kobe Hammer indeed.

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