In the NBA playoffs, you can tell who the team will feature and it’s on that player to step up during that stretch.
For instance, last night I’m out watching game 7 between the Lakers and Nuggets. Ty Lawson is the best player on the Nuggets, and he needed to have a game. Like most good players do, they take the initiative and the L.A. struggles against good point guards. The first quarter was back and forth, alternating lead changes. Ty Lawson jump started Denver and had a monster game. But you knew Andre Miller was going to finish the quarter to give him a break into the 2nd quarter.
After each quarter we talk about who is going to make an impact. The writing was on the wall that Andre Miller was going to give Lawson a break, and he’s been having his way against the Lakers defense the entire series.
At halftime, I felt Pau Gasol would step up. The Lakers were getting contributions from Steve Blake and Metta World Peace, but Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum were rotating the ball. The Lakers tend to run the offense through Gasol since he can not only score, but distribute. He excels in a fast paced game and stood out on both ends of the court in the 3rd quarter. He was the reason the Lakers created a double-digit gap.
As for the counterpart, Lawson was huge all night, as was Gasol, and spearheaded a comeback and made it a tight game in the 4th quarter. I wasn’t sure if Blake would keeping shooting the three well, but he did and ended up 5-6 from long range. Bryant wasn’t looking for his shot, but he drew second and third defenders and found his open teammates that cashed in. Bynum had to make his presence felt, and he did that in different ways than fans are used to. He tallied 16 points, but in that 4th quarter he protected the paint by cleaning the glass and blocking shots.
And of course, the Lake Show was pulling away when the Mamba faced up, and drilled a contested 3-pointer that knocked him to the ground. He got up to high-five fans, including Justin Timberlake, but the clutch assassin put the dagger into Denver’s hopes.
The Nuggets had a great run and although they could have performed better, it’s tough to beat a Kobe Bryant team with two 7-footers in the paint. George Karl did a tremendous job, he out-coached Mike Brown and the playoffs are where stars are born, keep a look out for Ty Lawson.
As for the team advancing into the next round, the role players stepped up and the stars made an impact when they needed to. The Lakers protected their storied franchise name and answered the bell. It’s a wrap in Hollywood, on to Oklahoma City for a star-studded series that should be one for the ages.