The Los Angeles Lakers played Game 5 in front of their home fans and looked to close out the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers were perfect at Staples Center and they were aiming to keep that record alive by the time the game ended.
The Lakers pulled off a narrow victory in Game 4 thanks to a great effort from the team’s role players. The bench provided a great lift for the Lakers and that propelled the squad to a much-needed win.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder already booking a ticket to the second-round, the Lakers had to get this win and gain enough time to prepare for the next opponent.
Kobe Bryant was very aggressive to open the game, but he could not connect on his first three shot attempts. The Lakers were relying on Bryant to get the offense going; however, that plan was not working. When the team decided to give the ball to their big men, it scored and got onto the board. With 9:44 to play in the quarter, the Lakers were tied at two.
The teams began the game a little slow on offesne and they were not having much success on that end of the court. Their rhythm was not their and no was able to put together some type of run. The Lakers were shooting too much on the perimeter and were not attacking the basket like they used to. At the 6:57 mark of the quarter, the Lakers were down three, 10-7.
Los Angeles was finding its way to the free-throw line and got most of its point there. The front-court was being very aggressive, but the missed opportunities hurt the team’s chances to take the lead. The defense was sub-par and was getting beat by the Nuggets nearly every time. The younger players were getting in the open-court and took a 16-15 lead over the Lakers with 3:50 left in the period.
After 12 minutes of play, the Lakers faced a 26-23 hole behind 34 percent shooting. Kobe Bryant was the Lakers’ leading scorer with seven points on 3-10 shooting and as a team the Lakers shot 5-8 from the free-throw line.
The Lakers did not open the second quarter well and their offense continued to struggle.Pau Gasol was the only star on the floor for the Lakers, but he rarely touched the ball. The team took way too long to set-up a play and often times settled with contested jumpers. With 9:40 to play in the half, the Lakers were down 28-23.
The Lakers were fortunate enough to have the Nuggets miss some point-blank shots andthat kept the deficit within a reasonable margin. Denver easily could have opened up a commanding lead if it capitalized on its chances, but instead the Lakers got into the open-court and tied the game at 29 at the 7:00 mark.
Arron Afflalo turned to another gear as the quarter progressed and he hurt the Lakers on both ends of the court. His shot was falling down from the perimeter and his defense on Kobe limited his game tremendously. Afflalo was being very aggressive and the Lakers had very little resistance to offer him. With 3:05 to play in the half, the Lakers were down 41-35 following the team’s fifth turnover.
At the end of the first half, the Lakers were down by six, 49-43. The Lakers shot 33 percent from the floor as a team, but attempted six more free-throws than the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant led the way with 18 points on 5-13 shooting.
The Lakers could not come out of the half on a hot streak and were unable to cut into the Nuggets’ lead. Danilo Gallinari was the Nuggets’ primary scorer and helped the team go on an 8-0 run to bring the lead up to ten, 67-57. Los Angeles’ offense continued to struggle and the Nuggets were in complete control of the momentum.
As the quarter progressed, the Lakers did not get much going and were still playing catch-up with the Nuggets. The crowd began to boo their Lakers and nothing was going their way. Luckily, the Lakers stayed in striking distance thanks to their free-throw shooting. With 6:00 to play in the quarter, the Lakers were down 61-54.
Once the Lakers increased their level of intensity on the defense end, their offense slowly started to unfold. With the stops, the Lakers regained their confidence and that allowed them to find shots in the open-court. After trailing by 12 points in the period, the Lakers trimmed that to three, 66-63, with 3:30 left to play.
However, in the final portion of the quarter, the Lakers’ lack of ball movement allowed the opponent to regain its lead. The Lakers were down by just one possession, but Denver closed out the period extremely well and were up 76-65.
The Lakers needed a great fourth quarter if they wanted to close-out the series and had to find a way to generate some offense. Los Angeles began the period on the right foot with a bucket, but it could not keep that going while the Nuggets continued with their solid play. The Lakers were playing sloppy basketball and that allowed the Nuggets to get whatever they wanted. With 9:02 to play in the period, the Lakers were down by 15, 82-67.
Steve Blake inserted some life into the Lakers with his three-point shooting, but all that came crashing down with the Lakers’ effort on defense. They could not get the stops to spark a run and the Nuggets also answered back with timely buckets. Javale McGee destroyed the Lakers in the paint and he was outplaying both of the Lakers’ seven-footers.
The Lakers cut the lead down to 11 with a little over four minutes left to play in the game, and the team was beginning to regain some confidence. The stars were showing up and they made an effort to bring the Lakers back into the game. Kobe Bryant was knocking down the outside shot while the two big men worked in harmony inside the paint.
In the final three minutes of the game, the Lakers relied on Kobe Bryant to score the ball and he delivered with amazing three-point shooting. Bryant was on fire from behind the arc and the Nuggets had trouble defending him. The Lakers were playing extremely well and they turned a 15-point hole down to three with 28.6 seconds left in the game.
The Lakers had a chance to send the game into overtime, but their final two shots in the last possession could not do it and they lost 102-99. Bryant had 43 points, but it was not enough to complete the comeback.
Game 6 will be held in Denver on Thursday night.