Denver @ LA Lakers: Game Two Recap

by April 26, 2008

By: Holly MacKenzie

Since this “recap” is three days after the fact and I’m watching the start of game three tip off as I post this, I decided against the usual quarter by quarter recapping because we’ve already all seen and discussed game two. This recap is obviously focused more on Kobe than anything else, you’ve been warned… It was a little fun explaining why Kobe wore that horrendous jacket, even if it wasn’t true. All I could think of when I saw it was that stupid “What is black and white and read all over” joke from elementary school. That joke is as horrible as the jacket and it is probably the reason why I still don’t find most jokes funny.

The good news for all of you reading is that Cub will have some great game notes for you from the contest in Denver. I’m anxiously awaiting those!

Walking into the arena in an unforgivably loud jacket, it just didn’t seem right. This is Kobe Bryant. He who has his own wife identified as “Lady V” the stylist in his Esquire photo shoot. He who had purchased Mark Madsen designer suits for Christmas because he couldn’t handle the stuff Mad Dog was rocking. He, whose every move is calculated and planned out. This patterned jacket did not seem to fit into the carefully constructed jigsaw puzzle that is Kobe Bryant’s life. By the end of the night, 49 points and 10 assists later, it made perfect sense of course.

That ugly jacket with its dizzying pattern was a representation of how Kobe was going to make the Nuggets feel in game two. When he selected this carefully tailored garment, hanging in the overflowing closet full of suits showing his impeccable taste, he could not help but smile. Tonight he was to stand out a little more than usual and wanted, no, needed all eyes on him from the get go.

At the end of four quarters, the Nuggets were down and out. Facing an 0-2 deficit in the series they were tired and frustrated, but mostly dizzy from trying to chase down Kobe Bryant. Contesting shots that went in regardless and trying to deflect passes that reached the intended recipients, we all should have known when we saw the jacket. Of course there was a reason for it, he wanted our attention because he was going to put in a performance to remember. The jacket was just him dressing the part.

The story of this game was simple. Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. Served straight up. Just when you thought he had cooled off and was done for the evening, there was another round until he finally punctuated his game with a basket and the foul, leaving JR Smith with his mouth open but nothing coming out. After hearing the kid talk to him all night long, Kobe responded. With his 47th, 48th and 49th points of the game Kobe was letting JR know what was up.

After game one, the talk was centered on how fantastic Pau had played, the effort Lamar had brought and how the Lakers managed to win with Kobe shooting a horrible percentage. At the conclusion of that game Kobe said it wasn’t so much the defense of Kenyon Martin that stopped him, but rather that he had stopped himself, missing shots he should make.

Game two needed to be a whole different ball game for the Nuggets. It ended up being a double dose of the Lakers high-powered offense only this time it was powered by Bryant. Opening the game by missing his first two shots of the night, Kobe then knocked down ten straight shots and scored 20 in the period as the Lakers led by one after the first quarter.

Nuggets look good, active and are hitting their shots, but I think that everyone who was watching shared that same feeling of awe after seeing that quarter from Kobe. He just reminded everyone that he is pretty much unstoppable when he is zoned in.

Thanks to JR and the constant talking he stayed focused and after having a solid first half broke the Nuggets down in the third as he became the facilitator, giving the Lakers a ten-point lead at the start of the fourth.

With the Lakers up by five, Kobe decides to eliminate every ounce of hope gleaming in a Nugget’s eye. How does he do this? Dropping in 19 points in a 4:19 span to finish off his night and the Nuggets all at once. The scoring binge started and ended the same way, with three-point plays. The baskets came easy and they came quickly, as the Nuggets again seemed to fall apart in the final minutes, racking up technicals rather than points.

When Coach Jax took him out of the game, the Lakers were up 19 points and Kobe had silenced JR Smith and the entire Denver team, at least momentarily. 49 points and 10 assists beside his name on the score sheet, the Lakers easily got the game two victory and took care of things on their homecourt while Denver headed home with lots of questions.

The analysis of this game is simple. The Laker offense is clicking on all cylinders, with and without Kobe Bryant dropping in 40+. In order to stop them there will need to be a serious defensive effort from the Nuggets, or an offense that will thrive behind their fans and be able to outscore the Lakers. With the way this series has gone so far, defense sounds like the better option of the two. With the way the Nuggets play, it probably will not be the choice they make.

Bottom line is: The Lakers are up 2-0 and Denver needs to make it interesting in a hurry.

Other notes:

-One little thought here: In addition to securing homecourt, could the top team in each conference be free from having Reggie announce their games? A reward for the fans, maybe?

-With Nene, JR, Melo and Iverson on the floor (someone else too, but I didn’t take note), I really, really would be rooting for the Nuggets if this didn’t happen to be against the Lakers.

-JR continues to get to the rim with ease. He really is so talented; the game looks effortless for him on the offensive end. Of course, this is also the problem that plagues the entire Nuggets team. They need to boost up that defense.

-Kenny, Charles and Ernie are as amazing as Reggie is awful.

-One thing that makes me very happy as a Laker fan is the winning mentality of Sash. The kid wants to win and will do whatever is needed of him. Dropping jumpers, annoying Allen Iverson, cheering on the bench, he is the ultimate teammate, even if he doesn’t pass the ball.

-Melo still seems out of sorts and I’m kind of waiting for him to have a huge game in Denver. Whether it will be enough, I’m not sure.

-While Kobe had 10 assists of his own and the Lakers had 33 as a team, the Nuggets managed only 12 assists on 37 field goals.

-It must be one bittersweet feeling for George Karl to watch as Kobe Bryant goes out of the game because his team is up nineteen and watch as his own son, Coby replaces him in his first ever playoff game. Talk about mixed emotions.

-In case you were wondering, this is the first time that a father/son pair has met in the playoffs.

Game three is in Denver and our guy Cub will be there, keeping you all in the loop.