LA-Denver game two: It’s a storm warning!
Posted by: SPQR on May 02, 2012 - 12:57 AM
Before the second LA – Denver game, my cell phone sent me a storm warning: Thunder, lightning and heavy rain. |
And boy was that right. The storm got so hard that I lost my hi-def picture a couple times and had to change to the analog feed to get the picture. But the storm passed and in the end, all was well.
But Pittsburgh Pennsylvania wasn’t the only city that had a storm. In LA, where storms are few and far between, another more ominous burst of nature was about to burst down on the Denver Nuggets.
Make no mistake, it was a must win game for the team from the Rocky Mountain state. They knew it, we knew it, and they played like their very playoff lives were at stake, because they were.
But one thing we have learned over long history is that human will, human effort, pales in comparison to violent vicissitudes of nature, and so it was again tonight in Staples center.
Portents of the storm to come came early. Thunder, low and loud, in the form of Andrew Bynum early, doing what he wanted, when he wanted. The warnings of the thunder reverberated around the Nuggets with each basket and rebound. And the thunder Drew unleashed battered Denver for 27 points. For the Nuggets, the sound of thunder must have been deafening.
But thunder is only half a storm. It is the introduction to something that can be even more violent and destructive: Lightening.
And it was lightening indeed that followed thunder tonight. Lightening in the guise of Kobe Bryant, who twisted, turned, drove, lit up the sky with flashes of magnificent light, scorching the Nuggets with high voltage burns with every unerring strike. The damage was so severe that the fire department and paramedics surrounded Staples, but no survivors from Denver would escape a storm so ferocious and ceaseless. They say lightening never strikes the same place twice, but Denver will tell you that is a lie, because tonight it struck them 38 times. And for the Nuggets, those strike were blinding and fatal.
For Kobe Bryant, it was a remarkable, unfathomable 83rd time he breached 30 points in a playoff game. How many games is that? One more than a full season of basketball. Who says lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice? It does when that lightening is named Kobe Bryant.
But Denver was resilient in the face of the storm, the deafening thunder, the flashing deadly lightening. It took more than just thunder and lightning; it took rain and wind too. Jordan Hill kept hitting the boards hard, like they were his girlfriend, trapped in a corner. He is becoming the new Lamar Odom for this team. No, he can’t pass like Odom, he can’t handle like Odom, but he has size like Odom, effective size, and he rebounds like the good Odom and plays with an energy that the old Odom perhaps no longer has.
Pau Gasol chipped in some thunder of his own, with 13 points and 10 big boards.
At the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, with Thunder and Lightening on the bench, the other Lakers stepped forward to increase the lead from 7 points to 13. The sign of a winning team.
And Ramon Sessions rained in 10 crucial points in the fourth quarter, when Denver put up their last stand, when we needed a boost the most. The sign of a clutch winner, in his first ever playoff series.
And with 2:15 to play, with LA clinging to a four point lead, just when Denver came close, when hope of surviving the storm gleamed in their eyes, flowed from their drenched bodies, Kobe struck one last time with a lightening steal and passing to Drew for a thunderous dunk and the foul, to extend the lead to seven.
If a storm gets violent enough, if it is mean enough, it can cause all kinds of damage. It can hurt, it can kill, it can knock the lights out. And with that Kobe steal and Drew dunk, they hurt the Nuggets, they killed the Nuggets, they put the lights out on the Nuggets’ season.
The Nuggets played their hearts out. They had to. It was a must win game. There is an old axiom that a series hasn’t started till someone loses at home. But the fact is, barring a catastrophic injury to the Lakers, the Nuggets will not beat a bigger, better team that has home court four of the next five games. It was desperation time for Denver. They showed it in how hard they fought against all the odds and the force the storm threw at them.
And now the scene shifts to Denver. They will fight even harder there. They will try to run even more. But in the end, that team will have no answer for the Thunder and Lighting of LA.
And as the weather forecasters in Oklahoma look ahead a week or two, as they always do, they must wonder: What will be the weather forecast be?