I was able to watch most of this game and there are a couple of things that struck me. LA got off the expected hot start and it looked like Denver would do what they do and mentally quit on the game and possibly the series. But Denver showed the mental toughness of a 12 year old, which is step up for them. They actually played the entire game, they finally decided to rebound on the defensive end and they even decided to keep their cool in the 4th quarter. Ok, maybe even the maturity of a college co-ed.
I have to give credit to Billups and the Denver FO. I know everybody is saying "it's only because of Billups that this team is doing so well", but that's got to be part of it. This guy has the rest of his team listening to the coach and actually showing some level of brain function throughout the game. Billups deserves a lot of credit, but not all of it.
When the Lakers came out and jumped on Denver early George "Pugde" Karl actually made a nice move by taking out K-Mart (where the play is discounted) and putting in Kleiza. LK, as Karl called him, spread the Lakers out on defense and started the defensive rebounding. This was probably the best move Karl made all game. He of course made up for it when he had a lineup of Martin, Carter, Nene, Smith and Billups in during the 4th quarter. This begs the question of George Karl, why are you taking out Melo and Billups when they are playing well? He's got to stop that if they want to win the series, also Carter and Jones cannot be logging big minutes. Kobe has shown that those to guys are nothing but fodder for his offensive game.
As far as the Lakers, Phil Jackson needs to figure out what to do at PG. Brown is really the only effective guy they've had there. Fisher and Farmar are getting owned by Billups. Brown got the most minutes of his career in a playoff game last night. It should be interesting to see how Denver adjusts to that. Also, one wants to know why is the Zen Master sitting Ariza late in the game? Ariza helped spread the floor and played reasonable defense on Melo and yet he was on the bench in the 4th quarter.
Where is Lamar Odom? This guy should be a huge match up problem for the Nuggets and he's getting out played by Kenyon Martin. That's like being out witted by a 5 year old who can't form full sentences. If the Lakers want to win Odom has to become at least a factor and like this:
For that matter the entire front line for the Lakers have to play better. Gasol needs to be careful; I don't think he knows who he's playing. These are the THUGGETS! You keep playing like a punk you're going to get shived(or is it shanked?) in Denver. Denver's front line is much more physical at this point. Maybe LA can get some WWE wrestler guys to help beef up their front line, I’m sure that would make Vince McMahon happy.
I have been extremely entertained by the Kobe v. Melo match up. Melo is holding his own, which is surprising. To me this series will come down to which teams role players step up. Melo and Kobe are going to get theirs, but what guy can come up big for his team? Last night it was Kleiza for Denver and Ariza for LA (both of whom I’ve been impressed with and wouldn’t mind seeing in silver and black next year). Ariza turned the ball over late and that's what did in LA. It should be a great series as long as Denver can keep the maturity level up.