Wednesday , May , 20 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe Clutch in Game 1 Win over Nuggets

Kobe Clutch in Game 1 Win over Nuggets

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers looked wobbly at the start, but finished strong to draw first blood against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, 105-103.

Kobe finished with 40 points, and hit 6 free throws in the final moments of the game to lift the Lakers in what looks to be a quality series between two West powerhouses. Kobe got help from Derek Fisher (13 points, 6 assists, and a couple of key treys) and Pau Gasol (13 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks) to counter Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony’s offensive tear. Anthony led the Nuggets with 39 points on a torrid 70% shooting clip.

The game was a match between rhythm and rest as the Lakers just finished their grueling 7-game series against the Rockets a couple days ago and the Nuggets had played their previous game almost a week ago. The Nuggets looked sharp in the opening quarter, shooting with great accuracy and even built a 13-point lead. The Lakers countered with a strong second quarter via contributions from their bench. (For the game, the Lakers bench outscored the Nuggets’ reserves 27-16).

After the halftime break, it became more of a see-saw battle as neither team could get total control of the game. The Nuggets were able to build a shaky 7-point lead in the fourth, but the Lakers outscored the Nuggets 23-14 the rest of the way, with Kobe Bryant firing 15 points.

Like I’ve said in my series preview, the Nuggets’ inability to control Kobe Bryant cost them the game– the combo of Dahntay Jones, Anthony Carter and J.R. Smith was completely ineffective against Kobe defensively.

The Lakers have taken Game One. Let’s see if they will get three more wins against a tough opponent.

For more Los Angeles Lakers coverage, visit