Andrew Bynum’s mouth may have cost the Lakers a victory in Game 5. Prior to Los Angeles’ potential close-out game against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers All-Star center said close-out games are “actually kinda easy” because teams “tend to fold in you come out and play hard in the beginning.”
Well, well, well. Guess who used that as bulletin-board material? The Nuggets. As it turned out, it was the Nuggets who came out and played hard in the beginning, taking it to the Lakers in the first quarter to jump out to an early lead and never looked back. Denver’s 102-99 victory Tuesday night in L.A. denied the Lakers – who appeared to have already moved on and had their minds set on Oklahoma City in the next round – an opportunity to close out the series. Now, the Lakers will have to travel back to Denver for a Game 6, and if the Nuggets win at home they’ll force a Game 7.
Rookie forward Kenneth Faried (10 points, nine rebounds) set the tone when he outran the Lakers big men from the outset and then center JaVale McGee finished off the job when he played like a monster in the fourth quarter.
In 32 minutes off the bench, McGee grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds and scored 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including four powerful dunks – two off lobs from guard Andre Miller. After the game McGee said the Nuggets used Bynum’s pregame boast gave the Nuggets extra motivation.
“It just made us play harder than the game before. Everybody on our team was rebounding. It wasn’t just me and Faried,” said the 7-foot McGee, who thoroughly outplayed Bynum.
“Coach put it on the film,” McGee said of Bynum’s quote. “That was the last thing we saw on the film. Andre [Miller] gave an emotional speech and we just went out there and played hard.”
Miller was the other bench player that gave Denver a huge lift, as the veteran point guard led the way with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting and dished out eight assists. He also put on some incredible moves that would have made every old YMCA player proud, showing the younger players that there is still plenty of gas left in his 36-year-old tank.
When a reporter asked Bryant if Bynum’s quote bit the Lakers in Game 5, he said: “That’s true. Close-out games can be easy sometimes. But tonight wasn’t one of those nights. I don’t think it made a difference. Did it pump them up? Yeah, probably. Would they have come out and play with that kind of energy? Yeah, probably. We didn’t execute, and they obviously played harder than we did. That’s a lesson to learn. You never want to give anybody bulletin material.”
“We didn’t play with the kind of effort that we should. Our supporting cast has to help out, Pau [Gasol] and Andrew [Bynum] in particular,” said, Bryant, who scored a game-high 43 points and nearly brought the Lakers all the way back with some remarkable 3-point shooting in the fourth quarter. But he missed his last two 3-point shots and the Nuggets hung on for the win.
“It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world,” Bryant said. “Nothing surprises me about this game anymore. I’m disappointed, but there’s nothing you can do about it now.”
All hail 14 year NBA veteran Andre Miller who’s precision passing and magnificent footwork around the basket helped
the Denver Nuggets to a critical game 5 victory over the highly touted Los Angeles Lakers. Clearly the least physically
gifted player on the floor, Miller sliced and diced the opposition with 8 or 9 passes that were at a level with the
best of all time. A shuffling, humble 6’2′, with a hump back and grim demeanor, Miller hit JaVale McGee, a late season
pickup, with 30 ft passes that were so fast and so accurate that the defenders were frozen, again and again,
for a critical moment in absolute disbelief. And Miller’s drives into the lane against the Lakers’ giant defenders were
so precise and so well orchestrated that behemoths flailed blindly about and raged – but were helpless against him.
I’ve watched the NBA since 1956 and Miller was as good as it gets last night. A pro’s pro. He has missed 3 games in
his career of 14 years. Traded from team to team by management always looking for a star, usually inserted into critical games
by coaches who prefer Miller to the next budding superstar who is too distracted by sudden fame and fortune to forego
an open shot for an open pass. To judge by the conversation in the national media it would be difficult to assert he
was even a factor in the game.
Basketball has been played on the North American continent for millenia. I visited some ancient courts when I was
in Mexico this winter. As a game it provides some spectacular entertainment once in a while. As a ritual basketball
provides direct access to the favor of the gods. Earvin “Magic” Johnson took his game from ghetto to glorious and
He made the game better, a lot better. He moved the ball, disproved all the racial and social fear mongering,
and inspired millions of young players, all the world over to improve their game, in any endeavor, and to smile
and least appear to be having fun while doing it. A great leader. Now in our cultural decline the very essence
of a good game and what is required to implement those conditions is lost within the context of the false
caste system imposed by the national media. Forget the game – follow the superstar. The false basketball gods
and their representatives challenge the very foundations of the game itself and superimpose false considerations
that favor their undertakings. The true gods grow weary of their conjugations. Popocotepetal rumbles from
It is the great tragedy of this era that the game of basketball has been so twisted by financial considerations that
the elegance of the game well played has been leadened by the powers of money, fame, and greed.
Wherever and whenever possible the game is played not to lose. Coaches conspire to keep it close. Referees are
challenged to favor the superstar. Advertising and network executives control the tempo. Broadcasters focus on the
same old stories, the same old themes, and the same players, new or old, who are elevated out of the context of play and
into the arena of celebrity. After the Nuggets victory the table talk is all about the L>A Lakers. And the game suffers.
And again last night as the Nuggets put a whipping on L.A. the talk was all about the woes of the Lakers, rarely a
comment about the great play and hustle of the Nuggets, who are clearly, when playing well, the most exciting team
in the league.
But the powers that be dictate the terms of the national conversation. They twist the very purpose of the event itself and
turn it into a bewilderment about an overhyped, below average team with an aging superstar – Kobe Bryant – to the advantage of a commercial
system so convoluted and bizzare that it no longer recognizes the essential elements of the game itself. The hollow
characters who are thrust before us, again, again, and again to represent these interests mouth the same old tired
formulas and reference the exact same world view – hip hop, Hollywood, slang, and slogan – preemptive prescriptions to
a diseased culture seeking shelter from the very conditions that it spawned – broadcast the whole world over. Madness.
2 doggs from courtside