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In Game 7, can Lakers finally answer questions haunting them?

May 12, 2012, 3:58 PM EDT

Lakers' Gasol, Bryant and Bynum react after losing to the Nuggets following their NBA Western Conference basketball playoff game in Los Angeles Reuters

It’s a do-or-die Game 7, but the questions are the same one since Game 1.

Can the Nuggets get the Lakers to play their up-tempo, scattered game? Can anyone on the Lakers stop Ty Lawson? Can the Lakers slow the game down, pound the ball inside to their big men and use their size and skill? Maybe the biggest of all, will the Lakers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol play with passion or coast through the game and their defensive assignments?

We have a lot more context for those questions now, but it is Saturday night we will get the answers.

Home teams win 8 out of 10 Game 7s, and the Lakers as a franchise have won 10 straight home Game 7s. I don’t care. Those games don’t impact this one.

What it does point to is that role players tend to play better at home and in a game where everyone can be a little tight that level of comfort can be the difference. Remember the last Game 7 the Lakers were in, against the Boston Celtics in the 2011 NBA finals? Who was the Lakers best player that game? Ron Artest. The one guy with the mentality not to be bothered by such things as pressure and nerves.

Artest is now Metta World Peace and the Lakers get him back for this game, following his seven-game suspension for elbowing the Thunder’s James Harden in the head. Having him back will be huge for the Lakers because of the energy and passion he brings — so long as he stays within the offensive system and doesn’t try to take it over.

For the Lakers, that is the key — work inside out. Get Bynum and Gasol going early and focused, Denver does not have anyone who can match up with them.

That does not mean no Kobe — if anything, the Lakers need Kobe on the court more. As Forum Blue and Gold noted, when Kobe is on the bench the Lakers have shot 38.3 percent and just 20 percent from three. Their offense stagnates and is defendable. The Lakers cannot afford that kind of stretch.

We know what we’re going to get from Denver — effort and passion. They are going to play hard. Danilo Gallinari is a hard matchup for any team, Andre Miller has played his best ball in recent memory (PER of 21.6 in the playoffs) and Kenneth Faried is everything the Lakers are not. Their only wild card, and the guy that could be the difference is JaVale McGee. When he has played well Denver has won as they balance out the Lakers advantage inside.

You know the Nuggets will bring it. The question that remains to be answered is will the Lakers?

  1. cakemixa - May 12, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Expect highly questionable officiating in both LA games this weekend. Stern knows it is bad for the NBA/ratings if both LA teams are out in the first sound. Sad, but true.

  2. prosourcetalk - May 12, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Why even bother asking questions when you know Stern is just going to veto the answers?

  3. sydneysachs - May 12, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Such asinine comments! And how exactly does Stern’s veto of the Chris Paul trade fit in with your “conspiracy” theory? Oh, right, he nixed the trade because he wanted to make sure the Lakers made it out of the first round?!?

    Lakers haters, per usual…

  4. mungman69 - May 12, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Why do Laker fans think that everyone hates the Lakers? I can think of a lot of laker fans who aren’t so high on the Lakers

  5. lmvs2012 - May 12, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Cakemixa! Ur dammmm right! is fixed just like nfl….more money more honey…IMAO!

  6. theduuuuuuuuuude - May 12, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    I listened to a radio program earlier in the week where the hosts suggested that the Lakers were going to tank game 6 on purpose to bring the series back to LA, thereby netting hundreds of thousands more dollars with the absurd ticket prices. What a joke. This team keeps losing because they can’t play any defense. The 10 blocks a game Andrew Bynum is M.I.A. Kobe had to go into desperation mode right off the bat in game 6 when the started out down by 13 points. Lakers fans can’t be feeling confident about this game after they laid down during the last two games and got their butts whooped. (P.S. before other Lakers fans start trying to call me a Laker hater, I am a Laker fan myself). I for one have almost no confidence in this team, but it’s all contingent on the kind of game that Andrew Bynum plays; whether he decides to show up of whether he lets chumps like Kenneth Fareid dunk on him all night.

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