LA - Denver game 4: The Lakers end the series the right way.
Posted by: SPQR on May 07, 2012 - 12:03 AM
Going into this series, I did not have a single worry. |
The reason was simple: Our third best player, Pau, would be Denvers best player. Then you think about Kobe and Drew, and Sessions, and Blake and the new Superman Hill and you think of Denver and....and...and..um...well you see the point.
But with the Thunder and San Antonio and Miami most likely in our playoff path, there was somethings I was looking for in this series.
First off, would we play as a team. And yes we have. All the players have had their moments. Kobe, Drew, Pau, Hill, Blake, Sessions. No one Laker player has cast a hero ball shadow over his teamates, leaving them in the dark and feeling underutilized and groping blindly about.
I really liked the way this game ended, with Kobe throwing that pass to Blake, who really came up with some clutch shots and huge block. A good friend texted me and said, "Jordan to Paxon."
And yes, so it was. But I remember the Bulls playing the Lakers in the lousy finals we lose, and Jordan shooting, shooting and shooting and missing, missing, missing the Bulls towards a loss until Phil had to call timeout and say to him, "Who is open Michael? Who is open?" Jordan, didn't answer at first, then finally replied, "Paxon."
Coach Brown didn't have to call time out for Kobe to hit the right guy at the right time. Kobe could have gone into hero mode and shot. He could have ignored Blake, but he did the right thing at the right time, unlike Jordan that night, of his on volition.
It was a nice team play. And it finished off the game for us. That is usually the reward for team plays. It really does work that way. Kobe and Blake really are doing a great Jordan-Paxon impersonation.
Hill has to be singled out too. I mean 14 points and 11 boards. Honestly, where would we be without him? This guy was like found money. You just can't believe you got it. For those of you who liked Hill after that trade. You guys were right. He really can play.
Drew had a solid game. So did Pau. So did pretty much everyone. Nobody really stood out, nobody destroyed our chances either. It was just a solid, nice team game.
The other thing I was looking for, that I considered essential, was winning a big game in Denver. This has been a bad road team all year, and they had to take one in Denver. They have to believe they can win on the road. They have to win on the road. It is where they are. If they can't, they have no chance. And win on the road, they did. That was good to see too.
The second half was terrific fun, played a high pace and level. The Nuggets were fighting or their lives and we were fighting to end it.
The Nuggets are one of those teams that made it on grit and character, but are short on talent. They showed that grit and character the other night, and again tonight. But they are one of the NBA's playoff cattle teams, destined to be herded to the slaughter house by a more talented group. And in this series, we are the herdsmen. In LA, we pushed them closer and closer down the the chute that contains the hammer gun that puts down the cows. And tonight in Denver, we got them right up into the chute, their head in the box and tuesday night in LA, we will fire the bolt to put them out of their misery.
And so with that last win left to get, that we will get tuesday, one can't help but think of the monumental challenge of the Thunder that lies ahead.
They are not a cattle team. They too are herdsmen, used to leading the other team to slaughter. Just ask Dallas. That series, which will be upon us before you know it, will tell us all we need to know, will give us the final answers about what this team is capable of doing, or not.
So enjoy tuesday, it will be fun. Because from after that moment on, the real playoffs will begin. We will find out if we have grown in the Denver series, or whether it was just the destruction of weak team by a stronger one. The stakes will be high in the Thunder series. How high? Well, a champioinship could be on the line. Thats pretty high.
As an aside, I really do feel for Karl. Like Sloan, he is an old time NBA lifer. He is a really good coach. But he never is the herdsman, always the cattle. I wonder if late at night, looking at playing another superior team, for the seemingly endless time, does he ever think, "Why can't I ever have the most talented team?" Who could blame him for that little whine when he is all alone after all these years?