The Lakers came out with a purpose Saturday night.
Pao Gasol got rolling early offensively and Andrew Bynum had three blocks in the first quarter. The real difference though was Metta World Peace. World Peace changed the entire dynamic of the game with his lock down defense. He covered both Andre Miller and Danilo Gallinari and made them both look like shadows of their previous selves.
With World Peace covering him, Miller couldn’t get his shot off to save his life. He only had three points on 1-10 shooting. Gallinari also only had three points on 1-9 shooting. This is some amazing defense World Peace played, considering these two guys had been scoring in the high teens or 20s in the previous games.
Due to World Peace’s defensive pressure, the Nuggest were forced to go with awkward combinations of players on the floor that simply didn’t work. They couldn’t go small with both Ty Lawsom and Miller on the floor at the same time and be effective. World Peace’s defense single handedly changed the entire dynamic of the game.
The game was close throughout and the Nuggets even managed a couple meager leads, but the tempo was clearly dictated by L.A. who was able prevent Denver from getting transition points in order to set up their own half court defense. With the L.A. big men coming to play and Denver unable to get transition points and get their half court offense running — with World Peace’s defense shutting down key scorers — this game was never really in doubt.
The Lakers were lead by Pau Gasol who went 9-19 for 23 points and 17 rebounds. Andrew Bynum had 18 rebounds and 16 points. Those are two monster double doubles are just what the Lakers needed.
Kobe Bryant, still getting over his illness from the other day, went for 17 points and 8 assists; but the real boost was World Peace coming in strong for 15 points.
This was a motivated Los Angeles team that was determined to advance to the second round and a Nuggets team that looked frustrated with the rough style of play.
L.A.marches on and the no name Nuggets are left to figure out what they need to do to improve for next year.
The up-tempo offense is great behind Lawson, but a player capable of producing in a half court set would really help this young squad.
Photo Credit: AP