Over the next five games the Dallas Mavericks will play the Denver Nuggets twice, tonight in Denver and next Friday in Dallas. The Mavericks come off a miserable 101-81 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday in a game that held the utmost playoff implications to date. Kobe Bryant recorded a triple double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) in nearly all 48 minutes of the game.
“It is a hit. It is a game we needed,” Carlisle said. “I mean, Dirk (Nowitzki) understands what this stage is about. We have some inexperienced guys that haven’t been here, so this is a valuable learning experience for them, but it has a price.”
Dallas did have five players score in double digits, but none more than 14 points from Chris Kaman. The Lakers sorely out-rebounded the Mavs 57-37.
The fallout has the Mavericks now 2.5 games behind the Lakers and 2 game back of the Utah Jazz (Utah lost 113-96 to Denver last night). The important factor now remains the Lakers and Jazz both hold the tiebreaker over the Mavericks.
Denver left Utah with an impressive road win without their starting point guard Ty Lawson. Lawson has been out with a plantar fasciitis tear. Andre Miller filled in and led the Nuggets attack. In their past seven games Miller has averaged 14.3 points and 6.4 assists.
The Nuggets pride themselves on their depth of very good players, but without that one star. Without Lawson they still had 7 players score 10 or more in the win at Utah. Danilo Gallinari led with 21 points while Kenneth Faried had 19 and rookie Evan Fournier added 18 off the bench.
A few days before the New Year, Denver beat the Mavs by 21 in Dallas. This one brings up the article that our very own Tony Clayton wrote on opponents having career nights against the Mavericks. Gallinari went off for his own with a 39-point explosion. Faried hauled in 19 rebounds to lead the Nuggets’ domination on the boards 60 to Dallas’ 43.
Something special will need to happen in Denver tonight. The Nuggets own the NBA’s best home record at an incredible 33-3! That’s insanely impressive and ahead of the Miami Heat’s 32-4 mark. The Mavs are only 14-23 away from home so put the two together and you have Denver as a vastly superior favorite in this game.
Ty Lawson scored 32 points, fellow spark plug Corey Brewer added 18 and the free-wheeling, too-young-to-scare Nuggets forced a Game 7 in their first-round playoff series with a dominating 113-96 win Thursday night.
“This is the biggest game he’s ever played in, and Saturday will be even bigger,” Nuggets coach George Karl said of Lawson, whose 32 points were a career playoff high.
The decisive game is Saturday night at Staples Center, Denver’s first all-or-nothing showdown since losing to Utah in Game 7 of the 1994 Western Conference semifinals. But it would be a mistake to think the young team will cave under the pressure of a win-or-go-home scenario.
The Nuggets have not only held their own against the Lakers, but they have made them look old, not experienced.
Kobe Bryant followed his 43-point outburst in Game 5 with 31 points in 3 1/2 quarters despite a sour stomach that he said left his hotel room “looking like a scene from ‘The Exorcist,’” and that prevented him from attending the Lakers’ morning shootaround and forced him to take intravenous fluids all day.
Bryant’s teammates felt even worse — for letting him down, especially fellow starsAndrew Bynum, who made just four of 11 shots for 11 points, and Pau Gasol, who was 1-for-10 for three points with three rebounds.
Asked whether he felt his teammates had matched his heart, Bryant retorted, “No, of course they didn’t.”"We didn’t step up and meet [the Nuggets'] energy,” Bryant said, and by “we” he meant Bynum and Gasol. “They know that. I expect them to come out Game 7, and play with a sense of urgency and a sense of desperation that wasn’t there the last two games.”
If not, the Lakers will be hitting the links next week instead of the boards.
“Kobe being dehydrated and all that and sick as a dog, coming out and trying to will us to a win, it’s disappointing to watch him give that type of effort … and we don’t get it from everybody,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said. “Our second- and third-best players are Drew and Pau, and the reality is both of those guys got to play better in order for us to win.”
Bryant said he was eager for Metta World Peace‘s return to the lineup Saturday night. The fiery forward served the final game of his seven-game suspension for elbowing Oklahoma City’s James Harden in the head last month. He’s been practicing with the Lakers but left the arena before games.
“I expect him to come out and play with the tenacity that he’s known for,” Bryant said. “He’s the one guy that I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with a sense of urgency and play with no fear. So, I’m looking forward to having him by my side again.”
If that was another shot at Bynum and Gasol, so be it. Bryant was loud and clear over his disgust with their lack of effort, energy and effectiveness.
“I talked with Pau a little bit after the game; I’ll speak with Andrew, too,” about performing better both physically and mentally in Game 7, Bryant said.
Bryant took a seat for good with Los Angeles down 101-73 with 7:52 remaining.
The younger but deeper Nuggets have won three of four since dropping the first two games in Los Angeles, and they did it by once again outrunning and outgunning their more talented counterparts who prefer a half-court game and not the frenetic pace and pickup-game style employed by the Nuggets’ greenhorns, who are on their second major makeover in 15 months.
The Nuggets got another great game from rookie Kenneth Faried, who provided even more energy as well as 15 points and 11 rebounds. Danilo Gallinari and Andre Miller each had 12 points for Denver, which led 90-68 heading into the fourth quarter.
Brewer iced this one by scoring 11 straight points for Denver to start the fourth quarter, an array of dunks and jumpers that gave the Nuggets their biggest lead at 101-73, and forced the Lakers to throw in the towel and try to rest up Bryant, Bynum and Gasol for Game 7.
Bryant finished the first half with 19 points, but he started out slowly and so did the Lakers, who fell behind 13-0 before Bryant scored more than 3 1/2 minutes into the game.
“They blitzkrieged us at the start of the game,” Bryant said.
Lawson hit all four of his 3s as the Nuggets jumped to a 23-8 lead.
“After I hit my first shot, that’s all I needed was a little confidence,” said Lawson, who hit 13 of 18 shots 24 hours after flying in his shooting coach, Las Vegas-based Ivory Manning, to fix a flaw in his mechanics.
Lawson also scored 19 points in the first half, his basket at the halftime buzzer giving Denver a 54-45 lead after its 15-point cushion had been trimmed to four on Gasol’s only basket, a hook shot that brought the Lakers within 47-43.
Bryant was lumbering a bit on defense, where he got away with several grabs in the first half. In the opening minutes of the third quarter, he was whistled for a flagrant foul after smacking Faried in the head while trying to prevent a fast-break basket.
Although Bryant explained afterward he was going for the ball, and expressed regret over the foul and thanks that Faried wasn’t hurt, the hard foul fired up the Pepsi Center crowd, as well as the Nuggets.
It came during Denver’s 9-0 run to start the second half, a spurt that doubled its nine-point halftime lead in less than 3 minutes and sapped whatever energy the Lakers had left.
Before long, the building was rocking in a blowout as Lawson scored basket after acrobatic basket and the “Beat L.A.!” chants grew ever louder.
Lawson’s 3-pointer from the top of the circle at 1:22 made it 90-65.
Bynum irked the Nuggets by saying on the eve of Game 5 that “close-out games are actually kind of easy,” and the Nuggets found more motivation in something written in the Lakers’ locker room after the game Tuesday night. Scribbled on the grease board was this message: “Flight. 3 pm. Pack for 3 games.”
Brown explained that it only made sense to pack for an extended trip because the next round will start in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder have the home court to open the conference semifinals. But he denied the Lakers were victims of overconfidence, just poor execution.
Indeed, it’s the Nuggets who are walking tall now.
“They played with confidence and swag,” Bynum said.
Two things that the Lakers have misplaced.
Earlier Thursday, Nuggets reserve C Chris “Birdman” Andersen was excused indefinitely from all team-related activities after Douglas County sheriff’s deputies searched his home as part of an investigation by the department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit. … Lawson’s previous playoff best was 27 points against the Thunder on April 25, 2011. His career high is 37 points.
Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum put up their usual big numbers. Their supporting cast came up even bigger, sealing the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 92-88 victory over Denver on Sunday night that put the Nuggets on the brink of elimination.
Bryant had 22 points and Bynum added 19 to help the Lakers overcome a six-point halftime deficit and take a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series that they can wrap up Tuesday night when the series shifts back to Staples Center for Game 5.
Sixth-man Jordan Hill had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and recently acquired guard Ramon Sessionsand reserve point guard Steve Blake each hit crucial 3-pointers in the final minute as the Lakers broke free.
Those were the players the Nuggets preferred had the ball in crunch time, and Bryant wasn’t at all hesitant to oblige.
“Sessions has hit big 3s. Even when I was out he hit some big 3s to win games. He did it again tonight. I have confidence in him,” Bryant said. “If you’re observing the game in the third quarter I hit Sessions for an open shot, Blake for an open shot and (Matt) Barnes for an open shot and they missed all three of them. George (Karl), being observant as he is, saw I was (ticked). I was and didn’t think I would trust them at the end of the game to knock down those shots, but they stepped up and knocked them down.”
With the game tied at 86, Danilo Gallinari was covering Bryant when a hard screen from Pau Gasol sent the Italian to the floor grabbing his throat. While Gallinari stayed down, Sessions’ 3-pointer from just in front of the Nuggets bench put the Lakers ahead 89-86 with 48 seconds remaining.
“It was a tough pick, you’ve got to expect that in the playoffs,” Gallinari said. “I’ve got to be ready and play defense. Unfortunately, they hit a big shot out of that.”
Andre Miller was whistled for basket interference at the other end, and Bryant found Blake for a 3-pointer from the left corner with 18.9 seconds left for a six-point cushion, L.A.’s biggest of the night.
Blake got a bear hug from Bryant during the 20-second timeout.
“Those moments don’t scare him,” Bryant said.
“It’s always good when you get a hug from Kobe. It means you did something right,” Blake said. “It was a total team effort for us tonight.”
Sessions, whose acquisition from Cleveland this spring led to the trade of five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher, finished with 12 points, and Blake had 10.
“They got the two 3s to go down at the end of the game,” Karl said, “but conceptually what we’re trying to do at the end of the game is not let Kobe, Bynum and Gasol beat you.”
Instead, it was Sessions, Blake and Hill that did the damage.
Gallinari led the Nuggets with 20 points, and Miller had 15.
After torching the Lakers for 50 points combined in the previous two games, Ty Lawson was held to 11 points and Nuggets big menKenneth Faried and JaVale McGeeweren’t nearly as effective on offense or disruptive defensively as they were in Game 2, when they combined for 28 points and 30 rebounds.
Together, they had 14 points and 11 rebounds Sunday.
Bynum, who blamed his scoreless first half 48 hours earlier on failing to properly prepare in the pregame, was much more active early on, scoring 11 in the first half, which ended with the Lakers trailing 51-45.
The game was briefly delayed with 1:10 left in the first half when a female fan started walking across the court while the Nuggets were setting up a play. The woman walked several steps onto the court as Lawson brought the ball past halfcourt. Officials blew the whistle to stop the play and the woman was escorted away by security.
The woman, identified as 20-year-old Savannah McMillan-Christmas of Denver, was cited for trespassing.
Al Harrington scored nine points in his return to the Nuggets’ lineup. He started out with a clear face mask protecting his nose that was broken Friday night by an inadvertent elbow from Bynum, but he ditched the mask in a matter of minutes.
Harrington missed his first six shots but then sank four straight, including a 3-pointer that put the Nuggets ahead 76-75 early in the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets, who have hung tough since getting blown out in the series opener, face a daunting task of winning three straight, including two at the Staples Center, where they never led in Games 1 and 2.
“Losing always gets old. Losing is not fun. I’m not unhappy with my team, I’m not happy with where we’re at, but we still have a series to play,” Karl said. “I don’t think it’s an impossible challenge. I think it’s a great challenge for this young team. For me, I’ve been blessed with having great runs in the playoffs and I think I probably have one or two more left in me in my lifetime. I’d like to see it come this year.”
Miller stole the ball from Barnes and drew a clear-path foul from Barnes five minutes before halftime. … For the second straight game, McGee’s mother, Pamela McGee, who played in the WNBA, was seated courtside near the Nuggets’ bench. At one point, her son jumped over Bynum, who was whistled for traveling as he found his path to the basket blocked by his counterpart 7-foot center.