“We blame coaches for some of these sorry ass players way too much.” Charles Barkley was saying that just before the start of the first Game 7 the year. The Lakers must’ve heard him. In their 96-87 win over the Nuggets to advance past the first round, Pau Gasol (23 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, four blocks) and Andrew Bynum (16 points, 18 boards, six blocks) combined for 20 offensive rebounds while Steve Blake (19 points) and Metta World Peace (15 points) combined for nine triples. The first half started perfectly for the Lakers. We couldn’t remember the last time we’d seen Gasol play with so much visible emotion and outward energy. He was HYPED. The Lakers’ pregame speech must’ve consisted of Kobe killing someone. After about 30 seconds of play, Gasol had already surpassed his output from Game 6. You know, we’d love to say this was a good thing, but the dude was such a bum in Denver that it really can’t be. Along with Bynum – who had three blocks in the first quarter in an effort to tell Kobe to “STFU” – the Lakers were pounding the interior. But Ty Lawson (24 points) hit his first four shots of the game. Since when did this dude become Allen Iverson? Actually, that’s a dumb comparison. Iverson actually missed shots … In the middle parts of the game, Denver’s half-court offense bascially turned into “Get it to Lawson or Afflalo and let them make some miraculous jump shot while JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov run around and do stupid things.” By the way, who caught McGee getting PISSED at Mozgov for offensively goal-tending a shot and making McGee (14 rebounds, five blocks) miss out on two points? Basically, Mozgov got an earful after he “McGee’d” McGee. We couldn’t stop laughing about this … The third quarter is where it really opened up for L.A. Two World Peace triples finished off a 18-4 run dating back to the second quarter to put the Lakers up 62-46. For MWP to come back off suspension and have the impact he did was big time. Don’t forget, besides the shooting, he turned Danilo Gallinari and Andre Miller into cement statues, rather than cement statues who could actually make shots. His also sometimes-annoying habit of hounding rebounders subtly halted Denver’s fast break … Almost immediately after the Lakers opened up the big lead, Denver came screaming back. Suddenly, it went from Durant and Westbrook giving each other that look in-between games of Saturday night CoD and saying, “Okay, get ready for Kobe” to Nuggets fans everywhere pre-jizzing all over their remotes. In the fourth quarter, Denver was finally getting contributions from people other than their starting backcourt, while the Lakers were relying on timely triples from… MWP and Blake? Yep, they still had it rolling. Finally, what can we say about Gasol in the fourth quarter? His repeated offensive rebounds probably won it for L.A. as the home team took over the paint in the final five minutes … And who caught that final, epic end-of-game sequence? Bynum might be the only player in the world to commit a frustration foul as he’s about to win a playoff series (and almost destroy JaVale’s shoulder in the process). And then McGee is DEFINITELY the only one in the world who would attempt to dunk his own free throw in a Game 7 … We’re out like the Nuggets.
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