Once a laughingstock, Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee is turning into a capable NBA player right before our eyes. On Tuesday night, he was one of the best players on the floor for the second time in the series in Denver's 102-99 win over the Lakers in Los Angeles. McGee, for his part, had 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. The Nuggets, who once seemed at danger of getting swept, now have the chance to even up the series at home in Thursday's Game 6.
[Marc J. Spears: Andrew Bynum's 'arrogant statement' costs Lakers against Nuggets]
While teammate Andre Miller arguably had a bigger effect on the outcome, McGee was awarded the game ball and earned a postgame interview with TNT's Craig Sager. At the end, as a means of congratulating JaVale, Sager told him to "hold on to that game ball" for a long time. So, naturally, McGee launched it into the crowd right before walking through the tunnel and to the locker room. It's unclear if anyone caught the ball, or if McGee just threw it into an open space. Whatever the case, it was weird.
Somehow, though, I think the reaction might have been very different if McGee had done this after a random game during his time with the Washington Wizards. When a player helps win a really important road playoff game, actions like this one showcase his confidence. When that same player does it in a meaningless January contest, it's a sign that he'll never grow up. It's amazing what a little success can do for a guy's reputation.
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