Lakers Defeat Nuggets in Game 2: Two Down, Two To Go

Here are a few aspects of last night’s game we will analyze:

Rebounds – The Lakers were actually out-rebounded in this game, 52-48. Their big men (Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill) did their job by combining for 29 rebounds, but the rest of the guys didn’t crash the glass. This was partially a reason why the Nuggets didn’t go away so easily. Down the road in the post-season, the Lakers will have to make sure to out-rebound their opponents by a wide margin in order to give themselves the best chance to win.

Kobe Bryant – There really isn’t anything to be said about Kobe Bryant that hasn’t already been said. The guy is simply amazing, and really takes his game to another level come playoff time. All we can really do is sit back, drink a beer, eat some popcorn, and watch him go to work. We just all have to realize the greatness we are watching. We even witnessed him break down the opposing defense and feed the ball to Andrew Bynum for an easy dunk the way he used to feed Shaq.

Andrew Bynum – If he hadn’t before, Andrew Bynum has arrived. The man put up a rare triple-double on Sunday, and followed that performance with another dominant game. He has cemented himself as an All-Star, and a possible superstar. Depending on how he fares for the rest of these playoffs, we could be witnessing the emergence of yet another dominant Lakers center (following George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and Shaquille O’Neal). Either way, Bynum looks poised to really define his legacy in this post-season.

Pau Gasol – We keep saying it. Pau Gasol is the most skilled big man in the league, and by far the most underrated player in these playoffs. So far, the seven-foot Spaniard is leading the Lakers in assists, while also pulling down rebounds and scoring buckets. He is a big reason why Andrew Bynum is doing so well–whether it’s the attention he earns from the opposing defense or his savvy passing abilities. The guy is just so selfless that he is willing to give up his stats and recognition for W’s.

Ramon Sessions – For his first playoff series, Ramon Sessions is doing quite well. The most encouraging sign is that he’s not giving up. He wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well early on, but he stayed aggressive. This is a rare quality for someone who is teamed with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. It ended up paying off for Sessions, and will undoubtedly reap benefits for him going forward.

Matt Barnes – Perhaps Matt Barnes’ injury is bothering him, because he’s not putting up the kind of numbers he was before the playoffs started. However, he looks quite active all around, and will hopefully regain his production as the playoffs progress. His minutes decreased in this game as he notched the least amount of playing time amongst his teammates. Barnes is a very crucial piece of this team, however, and the Lakers can only hope that he will be able to perform at an optimum level if not in this series, then in the next. Prior to the playoffs, Barnes was the sole player consistently assisting the Lakers’ starting unit. If he can somehow get past his injury, he will once again greatly help the Lakers going forward. Without him, the Lakers will have a huge void to fill.

Jordan Hill – Despite his recent legal issues, Jordan Hill has been a constant for the Lakers. Although he only significantly played in one game before the playoffs, Hill has proven that he is a consistent rebounder for the Lakers. Hill shows on pick-and-rolls, and doesn’t take any plays off. Coach Mike Brown had tried playing Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy prior to Hill, and had varied success. Hill appears to be a consistent player for the Lakers, and a pleasant surprise. If he can continue his consistency, he will be an invaluable backup to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

The Lakers weren’t perfect in Game 2, and still have a few questions hanging over their respective heads, but they got the job done. There is only one way to go from here, and that’s forward.

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