The Los Angeles Lakers had an opportunity to close out their first round series on May 8. They just didn't get it done. Kobe Bryant did his part, but Andrew Bynum was the only other Laker in double-figures, and the team shot a subpar 39% from the floor. The Lakers bench mustered a very average 19 points, while the Denver bench pumped in an impressive 50 points. JaVale McGee seemed especially inspired, and the Lakers must now travel back to Denver for Game 6.
The realities of the playoffs
While Lakers fans may not be particularly worried, Los Angeles is now in a bit of a precarious position. The Denver crowd is going to be very pumped for this game, and the Nuggets seem to believe that they can beat the Lakers. If Denver can pull out a Game 6 win at home, they will force a decisive Game 7. While Game 7 will be back at Staples Center, the final game of any playoff series can really go any direction. The Lakers have the most to lose, while the Nuggets remain the upstart underdogs that are playing with much more freedom right now.
The focus of Bynum
Andrew Bynum just needs to keep his mouth shut and play some ball. The talented big man provided some motivational material for the Nuggets by suggesting that this "close-out" game was not going to be a major problem for the Lakers. There is nothing more motivated for a team than to feel like they aren't being taken seriously. I have read some articles that suggest Andrew needs to "mature quickly." Unfortunately for the Lakers, I don't see that happening. A person can have moments of epiphany, but it takes a sustained pattern of behavior before they really display maturity.
Wrapping things up
I still think the Lakers are going to win this series, even if the Nuggets can pull off a win in Game 6. If Kobe Bryant has to put this team on his back and score 60 points in Game 7, he will. Hopefully Andrew Bynum will stop making silly comments and remember that he has the physical tools to be the most dominant big man in the game. On paper, the Lakers still have a tremendous starting rotation. They just need to execute and finish off an energetic Nuggets team.
A series that seemed like a foregone conclusion has suddenly become much more interesting.
The author grew up in Seattle and now lives in Los Angeles, where he enjoys the rivalry between the Lakers and the Clippers, and all the drama that goes with being in the Southland. You can follow him on Twitter @tpheifer.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Andrew Bynum
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Kobe Bryant