The Los Angeles Lakers squander a big opportunity to finish off the Denver Nuggets, losing Game 5, 102-99 at the Staples Center.
Besides the flashback “I am The Black Mamba” performance by Kobe Bryant, the rest of the Lakeshow had an uninspired night of play to forget. Even Bryant’s 43 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists effort couldn’t overcome the lethargic play of his team.
“I almost bailed us out, is what happened. That’s something you can’t rely on if
you’re going to win a championship,” said Bryant.
The “best closer” in the game simply can not do it by himself. When his All-Star teammates freeze up in the playoffs, it hurts this Lakers’ team tremendously. Sure Andrew Bynum, had a 16-point, 11 rebound night, but he hasn’t been that dominant since Game 1 (not to mention his bulletin board material-like comment before game 5). And with him being the new, “the Lakers can beat anybody if he plays up to his capabilities” X-factor (a role previously held by Lamar Odom), he can not afford to have any relapses of past years when he was at best, the 3rd or 4th option on the team. He’s finally starting to realize (or maybe not), when you wanna step up and become a big dog on a title contending team, you have to produce night in, and night out.
As for Pau Gasol, I believe I saw him on the back of a milk carton this morning for breakfast (damn shame smh). A 9-point, 10 rebound effort won’t cut it. He needs to wake up ASAP, because he will be heavily relied on for their next round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder (barring a series implosion against the Nuggets of course).
Role players will be role players, and this is why a lot of media pundits don’t believe enough in this team to be a legitimate title contender. Ramon Sessions, after having a solid game 4, only had 9 points, and 6 assists, while Steve Blake only scored 8 points. They’re a solid combination at the point guard spot, but the “big shot makers” they portrayed themselves to be in Game 4, appears to may have only been an aberration. Although Sessions made it interesting in the end by hitting a three-pointer to draw them within one-point of Denver, he has to be more of a consistent factor on offense to neutralize the Nuggets’ 2-headed point guard monster of Ty Lawson and Andre Miller.
Matt Barnes scored 11 points, and it only took him 14 shots to get that (with his typical 1-6 night from the 3-point line…smh). Jordan Hill athleticism didn’t have a great impact on the game either, but he’s a well added bonus when he’s active, and another big body to spell Bynum and Gasol when he’s not so impactful.
Losing Tuesday night’s game pretty much gives OKC at least a week off until their next game. The only positive for the Lakers, is that they will have Metta World Peace available for the beginning of the second round (or possible Game 7). Recent Lakers’ teams would always make certain playoff series more difficult than they should be, but the difference between then and now is that they had room for error and the firepower to make up for it, now they can’t afford any more Game 5esque performances in these playoffs.
Simply put, if the Lakeshow believe they are “championship caliber”, they better wrap it up come Thursday night, and proceed to the next round of the playoffs.
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Written by Arthur Kai