Wow, at this point that's the only thing racing through my mind. Not at how well we played, but at just how bad the Nuggets really are. Even at the end after they played miserably for three quarters, they ran out of gas and sleep walked the rest of the way. Think about that. You don't show up the first three quarters of the game, led by Anthony's 5-22, yet you run out of gas at the end. Even if it seems that you're destined for a blowout loss, albeit at home, it frustrates me to see a squad lose their intensity as if they have nothing to play for. "No team has ever lost a series after going up 3-0", yes, I know. It's still the playoffs. If you aren't playing for your season, play for some positives going into the next game or make the score single digits. Anything is better than just not caring at all.
Vladimir Radmanovic- For the third game in a row, he struggled with his outside shot. More importantly for the third game in a row, he played great defense on Anthony. Vlad confused him a lot of the time when he had the ball. "Should I shoot, even though I'm cold?" "Or should I look to spark light into my team?" "Should I drive even though their tilting their defense this way and discouraging my drive to the basket?" He had a question mark on his face throughout the game. Although it was our team that shut Anthony down as a whole, Vlad deflected a lot of his passes as well as other Denver players. Strong effort that should do wonders for his confidence. Final stat line: 5-22 shooting for Anthony says it all.
Lamar Odom- Not one of his strongest games, he's struggled since Game 1. Made some bad decisions, missed free throws during key points of the game, and was late on some rotations. Sometimes it seemed as though he didn't want to pick fouls. The few times he did rotate, though, he changed some shots, particularly that of Anthony's. I'm looking for a stronger effort in the series-clinching game.
Pau Gasol- In the first half his scoring led the way. In the second half it wasn't needed because of our domination. We used him as a decoy a lot of the time when he was set out near the circle, which is how we got some of those easy layups- the weak side was clear and the player in the corner went baseline. I also loved his rotation on defense, he was one of our key assets in stopping Anthony in the third. Final stat line: 14 points, 5-9 from the field, 3 blocks, 5 assists.
Kobe Bryant- He struggled to find the basket most of the game, which isn't a shock when you settle for jump shots (1-8 from 3). He still did what he does best, though, and that's delivering the crushing blows to the opposition. He hit big shots, got key rebounds, and set up his teammates for big baskets in the second and third quarters. He was still the best player on the floor, even if the numbers don't tell the story. Final stat line: 22 points, 9-19 from the field, 7 rebounds, 8 assists.
Derek Fisher- He showed his leadership tonight, hitting big three's during key moments for us. First after Iverson hit a 3 over a double team in front of our bench, then after an 8-0 for Denver in the third quarter that took the crowd out of the game. His defense on Iverson impressed me as well, he only went 5-16 from the field and had 3 assists. Final stat line: 14 points, 5-8 from the field, 4-5 from 3.Bench
- Once again, our bench played a strong game and performed better than Denver's. Luke led the way, continuing his strong play and our third best player in this series so far after Pau and Kobe (Lamar's last 2 games have been weak). Farmar and Sasha made big plays as well, despite struggling with their shots. Smith was once again the only player on their side who showed up off the bench.Final Thought
- Although I'm not completely sure what made us get off to a slow start, whether our body rhythms were off because of it being an afternoon game or something of the sort, but what I do know is that in the end, we''ll be okay. Why? Because this team never runs away from any type of challenge. It's obvious how hungry they are and that the personalities of Kobe and Phil are oozing in them. Denver may have delivered a pathetic performance on their homefloor, but we still displayed how great a team we are and that no matter who you are, we're coming after you. Just 1 win away from advancing.....again. I'm sure our 2006 series against Phoenix is still fresh in their minds, so hopefully there's no repeat of that. Yo have them on the ropes, now deliver the combination of punches to finish them off
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