The L.A. Lakers may count it fortunate that the Denver Nuggets led in every quarter. It kept them engaged and focused on the game. The Lakers did not forge an early lead and relinquish it. They were able to overcome the deficit in the fourth quarter with a thirteen point outburst from Kobe Bryant and a timely theft of an inbound pass by Trevor Ariza.
The Lakers could have made this Game Three much easier on themselves. The Lakers struggled at the foul line. With forty five opportunities at the free throw line, the Lakers only converted on thirty one shots. That’s a dismal sixty nine per cent. And the misses from the foul line came from everyone. For example:
- Andrew Bynum was three for six.
- Derek Fisher missed both his free throws.
- Kobe Bryant missed a fourth quarter free throw.
- Luke Walton missed both his free throws.
While the Lakers were missing from the free throw line, the Nuggets were missing from the three point line (5 for 27). The Nuggets generally have greater than eighteen per cent success from their three point shooters, especially on their home court.
One of the side stories of this playoff series has been the public complaints from Andrew Bynum about playing time. Phil Jackson continued to put Andrew Bynum in the starting lineup. He played twenty one minutes and had three blocks. However, it seems that Andrew Bynum still is recovering from his knee injury. He seems a step behind the play and is achieving the blocked shots by his height and not from an explosiveness in elevating. The court time, especially in the post season play, has to be productive. And, at this point, Andrew Bynum’s play does not dictate more playing time.
The Denver Nuggets need to win the next game. They know that the series will be almost out of reach if they have a three games to one deficit. Two of last three games are in Los Angeles. Game Four is a home game for the Nuggets. What the Nuggets can hope for is that LeBron James does not have another game winning shot in the Eastern Conference Series and generate global media coverage. Kobe Bryant does not need additional motivation.