As a Laker fan these games never get old. Kobe makes us appreciate his greatness, even if fans and media alike around the league may just stamp this game as “Kobe being Kobe.” He proved why he's the best at what he does. It's just that simple.
Vladimir Radmanovic- Anthony got off to a quick start in the first few minutes of the game and Denver never hesitated to put him in clear outs against Vlad. His defense on him seemed to improve slowly, but surely after that which really impressed me. He struggled with his shot again, though. If he gets the open look he has to knock it down. In Game 1 it was Pau who went off, then in Game 2 it was Kobe. Our offense would be even more difficult to defend if Vlad could come through. Final stat line: 8 points, 3-10 from the field, 2-7 from 3.
Lamar Odom- Obviously Lamar never got it going in this one because his foul trouble limited his court time, but most of his fouls were as a result of the poor perimeter defense of our guards. He had to rotate over and prevent the score, so it’s not completely his fault. The play to begin the fourth quarter was very strange though and left me shaking my head. We’ll need a better effort from him in Game 3 since Denver will probably keep Kleiza in the starting lineup, which payed them dividends in the first quarter. We couldn’t get a defensive rebound. Lamar’s at his best when he corrals the boards because it gets him going. If we control the boards, Denver won’t be in the games. Final stat line: 4 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 5 fouls.
Pau Gasol- Pau’s performance in this game doesn’t compare to Game 1, but he turned it around. In the first half Denver packed the paint and disallowed any easy passes or baskets for Pau, which made him aggressive once he got the ball and resulted in some bad shots. His body language was far from inspiring and I kind of felt like he let his lack of offensive production affect some other things he does well on the court. In the second half he picked it up, thanks to Kobe. Kobe set him up for some easy baskets in the third and it seemed to put some life into him. Final stat line: 18 points, 10 rebounds, 6-11 from the field, 6-10 from the free throw line.
Kobe Bryant- The energy wasn’t there for us to start. On offense we seemed confused as to how we wanted to attack Denver since we couldn’t get the ball to Pau. Our effort in crashing the boards wasn’t there either, but Kobe woke everyone up once he got it going. The shots he hit were demoralizing for Denver since almost everything was a jump shot with a hand in his face. We all know that if Kobe’s jumper is on, there’s nothing you can do if you’re the defense. If a guy is catching the ball out on the three point line and just raising over your 7 footer, what more can you do? His competitive energy rubbed off on the second unit and made them play defense. I love his swagger. In 1991 (the year the Bulls won their first championship), Jordan was a different person on the court. We already know how competitive he was, but towards the end of that season and in the playoffs he taunted players and talked trash like there was no tomorrow. Kobe seems to be doing the same thing. He doesn’t just want to win, he wants to humiliate you in the process. “You can’t eff with more or my team and if you think I’m lying, I’ll clown you” is what’s going through his head. A competitive Kobe is a scary thing for the rest of the teams in the West, especially if you’re the type of team who’s so horrible on defense that you have to rely on zones. In the fourth quarter he delivered the crushing blows. Denver lost it’s composure and picked up those technical fouls. Once that happened, there was no doubt in my mind that Kobe would look to make the impending loss all the more demoralizing for them. That’s exactly what he did when he hit those 2 long three’s. After that, it was over. Final stat line: 49 points, 18-27 from the field, 5-9 from 3, 8-9 from the free throw line, 4 rebounds, 10 assists.
Derek Fisher- Fish played a solid game with the exception of his defense. The most important stat to me is Iverson’s 31.Bench
- Luke and Sasha carried their strong performances over into this game. Denver has a strong bench, as we know, so whichever team gets a strong performance from their bench will be benefited a great deal. In Game 1, Denver’s bench came in and made a big impact that was somewhat overwhelming for us. Denver’s bench was non existent outside of Smith. They’ll be ready to shock us again on their homefloor, so we have to be ready.Final Thought
- We’re in great shape right now. The goal when you’re the road team is always to take one of the two games in your opponent’s building, but I’m pretty sure a sweep is what our team has in mind. If we do lose a game in this series, it’ll be Game 3. Denver is back home and just looking to get this series back to LA. We have to try to take the crowd out of the game early, you know they’ll welcome Kobe with open arms…..or something like that.