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In the end, it wasn't Bryant, it wasn't Bynum, and it wasn't Gasol. The two biggest plays of the game came from Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake in the final minute of the game. The Lakers scored 28 points off of second chance opportunities, as the Lakers grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, with Jordan Hill pulling down 7 and Pau Gasol gobbling up 5. Bill Macdonald, play-by-play voice of the Lakers, said it best, "You know Stu, it's a cliche that's used a lot in sports, but really, it pertains to tonight. It was a team win. A lot of guys did a lot of wonderful things tonight for the Lakers to secure this victory." In what may be the final broadcast ever on KCAL 9, the Lakers sent the station out with a team victory. What a way to end 35 years of great coverage.
The Lakers began the game with a putback for their first bucket of the night. Kobe missed a layup, and missed the tip in, but he continued battling on the boards, and the ball bounced right to Pau at the near block. Pau went up and finished the putback. This activity on the glass would foreshadow the effort of the Lakers for the rest of the game. It seemed that the Lakers might be tentative on the glass due to the numerous leakouts the Nuggets capitalized on during the previous games. After Pau missed an isolation fade from the near elbow, no one crashed the glass, causing Stu Lantz to state, "Because the Lakers are so concerned about getting back, nobody is even close to getting an offensive rebound." Mike Brown must have addressed this situation. Following that, the Lakers had very few possessions where they failed to have at least one guy in the paint going for an offensive rebound.
Andrew Bynum also lived up to his promise to come out ready for game four. Although he turned it over on his first possession, Bynum showed an aggressive side that was clearly lacking in game three. Bynum caught the ball at the near mid block in an isolation set. Gallinari came from the far side to double Bynum. Bynum kept his elbows up and was strong with the ball. Bynum attacked baseline and spun back to the middle. Although he stepped out of bounds for a turnover, Bynum's aggressiveness against the double and on his step through was great to see. Following that, Bynum switched onto Ty Lawson and contested his 3 from the far wing. Bynum leaked out and Kobe hit him with a half court alley oop lob for the layup on the break. Following that, Sessions ran a pick and roll with Pau from the top. Sessions attacked, hit Pau at the near elbow, and Pau attacked the rim. As he drew the defender, Pau sent a perfect bounce pass to Bynum for the open dunk.
Then Kobe got involved. He hit Sessions on a drive and kick for an open long 2. Then he went inside-out with Pau for an open 3. Following that, he pulled off his signature spin fadeaway. Following a Bynum offensive rebound, Kobe caught the ball at the far mid wing. As he jabbed right, Kobe continued his jab with one dribble to the middle, then he reverse pivoted to spin back and shoot the fading 17ft jumper over Gallinari, swish.
Following Kobe's fade, Andre Miller took over. Miller abused Ramon Sessions with numerous back downs and finishes at the rim. First, Miller posted Sessions at the far mid block. He attacked the middle and finished with his left on the near side. Bynum followed with a nice seal on McGee and open dunk at the rim. Miller came right back. He used a pick at the far wing to get to the far elbow and hit the jumper. Miller followed that with another post on Sessions. Miller caught it at the far mid wing. He backed down Sessions to the far mid block, turned middle, and hit the jumper in the lane over Sessions.
The Lakers responded with great effort on the glass. Kobe missed a catch and shoot jumper at the far wing, but he gathered his miss at the far mid wing and attacked the basket. Kobe went strong to the rim, made contact with McGee in the air, and missed the layup. Hill followed Kobe's miss, but missed the tip. Hill got his offensive rebound and missed the putback. Hill gathered the fourth offensive rebound of the possession, went up for the putback, and McGee spiked the ball away for a goaltend violation. Miller followed by schooling Steve Blake. Miller used a pick from McGee to get to the far mid wing. He picked up his dribble, pumped, looked to hit the rolling McGee in the lane, then looked to hit Lawson at the far wing. Blake finally recovered, but Miller sent him flying with another pump fake. As Blake flew by, Miller hit the shot off the glass. Then Miller followed a transition layup miss from Lawson for the putback.
Bynum finished the quarter strong. Utilizing an iso at the far block, Bynum took one dribble, turned baseline, went through McGee, and hit the lefty bank. Bynum made sure to prove in the opening quarter that he could destroy McGee. To end the quarter, McGee was called for his second goaltend violation. Bynum finished the quarter, 4-4 for 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 1 turnover. Kobe finished 3-9 for 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 1 turnover. Although Kobe had a lot of misses, 4 of them came right at the rim when he was either attacking the basket hard or going for a putback. Miller went a perfect 5-5 for 10 points and 2 rebounds in 4:30 of play. Just like game three, the Nuggets had someone catch fire in a limited stretch (Lawson in game three) to start the game. The Nuggets finished up 26-28.
The Lakers opened the second quarter with some more great effort. On the first play, Jordan Hill gathered an offensive rebound at the near mid block after battling both Al Harrington and JaVale McGee. Hill attacked middle, and then drop stepped baseline for the righty turnaround hook. Two possession later, Steve Blake showed his inner Derek Fisher by coming up with a scrappy, feisty play. Blake passed up an open 3 from the far wing to attack middle and get into the lane. Brewer caught up to Blake and swatted his shot from behind in the lane. As the ball bounced up in the air, Brewer got his hands on it first, however, Blake ripped the ball out with a forceful swipe at the near mid wing. Blake immediately hit Pau in the lane with a bounce pass for an open layup. Blake then set up a wide open jumper for Matt Barnes at the near top 3. Barnes missed, but Pau gave some great effort to tap the ball out. Barnes tracked the ball down to the near side. Barnes dribbled in to the near top 3, no one closed on him, so he decided to attack the middle. Barnes went straight to the rim and threw down the nice two handed slam in traffic. Andrew Bynum also made a great effort play and showed off some high basketball IQ. Kobe used a pick at the near wing to go right and come back left. As he came back to the near wing, Kobe hit the flashing Barnes in the lane. Barnes' shot was blocked in the lane. Bynum ran it down and recovered it at the near mid block. As he chased it down, Bynum made sure to look at the far shot clock. Bynum snuck a peak, noticed there was 2 on the clock, gathered the ball, and shot the fading jumper in the lane. He hit the 9ft jumper to beat the buzzer.