For two and a half quarters, the Lakers played sloppy, uninspired, lifeless basketball. They turned the ball over. They failed to convert inside. They blew assignments. They gave up about a million free throws.
And then they started trying. And talent, as always, won out again.
The Lakers blew past the Nuggets in the fourth quarter behind a stout defensive effort on their way to a 95-89 win at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony both had pretty bad games, shooting 10 of 36 combined with 13 turnovers. Bryant was bothered repeatedly by a halfcourt trap that shouldn’t have worked, and calls into question how healthy he is, just a handful of games back.
Carmelo Anthony’s problem was the game’s MVP, Ron Artest. Artest put forth one of the best defensive performances of the year, and forced Melo into fouling out. He also repeatedly nailed three pointers to keep the Lakers in it in the first half, punishing the Nuggets who seemed content to let the man they call “Crazy Pills” shoot himself cold.
The Nuggets dominated the first half, getting to the line on almost every play due to great positioning and the weak play of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. But the Lakers defense adjusted in the second half, forcing the Nuggets into shooting less than 40% from the field for the final 24 minutes.
This just proves that the Lakers can toy around with their Western Conference rivals and still win. Imagine what they’ll be like if they put forth a 48 minute effort like they had in the fourth? Dominant.
For Denver, it’s got to be frustrating. They still lead 2-1 in the season series, but the talk is going to be that the Lakers win when it matters, late in the season, and that the first two wins of the year are irrelevant. That’s got to be frustrating for a good team that constantly finds itself outside the headlines.
Also, Chris Anderson cannot guard Pau Gasol. At all. That is all. That was an unfortunate rhyme.