Lakers Let Game 2 Slip Away
Is it me or Game Two of the Western Conference Finals was the mirror image of Game One?
The game played out almost the same but the outcome and the teams were switched– the Los Angeles Lakers led early in the first quarter, let the Denver Nuggets catch up in the second, and played the second half closely until late breaks cost the Lakers the game. In the previous game, it was the Nuggets who led early and lost the game eventually.
Kobe Bryant again came up big for the Lakers with 32 points, but it was the Lakers’ spotty defense that let the Nuggets back in the game when the Lakers controlled the game in the second quarter. Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol did give the Lakers good defense and shooting in the field, but the rest of the starters and the bench were non-factors.
The game came down the wire with half a minute to go. The Nuggets were able to execute and the Lakers had a pretty a couple of bad breaks down the stretch. Chauncey Billups played the assassin from the free throw line, going 13 for 16 (with three key free throws in the final seconds of the game.).
At this point, I see that the Nuggets are a better team than the one that the Lakers played in the regular season. The Lakers seemed to be challenged enough not to slip in a funk like they did with Houston, but they also can’t seem to slam the door shut on the Nuggets.
The series is now knotted at 1-1 with the Game Three in Denver coming up. The Lakers have been in this situation before and it remains to be seen if they have collectively learned how to deal with a hostile crowd and win on a consistent basis.