It’s Saturday night, I just opened a bottle of wine, Barry White is blasting on the stereo now all I need is you – so come on up for another edition of NBA Nightcap. Don’t make me beg.
Lakers 103 Nuggets 97 – Well guess I don’t have to be nice to the Nuggets anymore. As the third quarter expired, J.R. Smith hit a three pointer over Sasha Vujacic to give Denver an 8 point lead – it was all downhill from there. Smith, who thought he had been fouled, rose from the ground and got in Vujacic’s face, recieving a technical foul for taunting in the process. Former MVP Kobe Bryant then hit a technical free throw to slice the lead to 7. After that the 4th quarter simply belonged completely to LA.
The Lakers outscored Denver 32-18 in the quarter with the Nuggets not hitting their first basket until the 6:34 mark of the 4th. Denver also shot just 5 of 22 in the quarter and somehow were still in the game until the final moments. Yet for the second time in this series, Lakers forward Trevor Ariza stole an inbounds pass – this time from Kenyon Martin – to seal the game.
Kobe was in fine form in Game 3 – scoring 41 points – including a huge 3 pointer with 1:09 remaining in the game to put the Lakers ahead for good. Pau Gasol added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers who now take a 2-1 lead in the series and have regained home court advantage.
Carmelo Anthony, who was coming off of consecutive 30 point performances, scored 21 points to lead the Nuggets. Yet he only scored 3 points in the 2nd half and shot 1 of 7 from three point range. As a team Denver shot just 5 of 27 from three.
This loss represents the second in the series that Denver had a golden opportunity to claim, and now they trail in the series 2 games to 1. What has become oddly clear in watching these games is that Denver actually may have more overall talent than the Lakers. However, to this point in the series the real difference in the series is Bryant. Kobe is one of the greatest closers in the game, while for all of their presumed talents (and nicknames) Chauncey Billups and Anthony just don’t measure up.
Game 4 is coming up on Monday.
The Cavs and Magic shift their series to Orlando on Sunday night. The primary story line in this contest will be how the Magic react to the pure hyperbole coming from LeBron’s game winning shot in Game 2. My prediction is that the Magicians will remain unfazed, Game 2 was somehow the FOURTH game Orlando had lost on a buzzer beating shot in these playoffs alone and they have responded in each subsequent game. Yet, while I don’t think Orlando will lose because of any sort of shock – I still think Cleveland wins the game.
Enjoy Memorial Day SoD fans.