Friday, May 22, 2009
Western Conference Finals Game 2
1. Nuggets fans might want to play the number 16 in the lottery, as that number was central to some unexpected contributions and a comeback from their team in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Kenyon Martin overcame a broken ring finger on his left hand to score 16 points, and Linas Kleiza provided the bench play Denver lacked in Game 1 with four made three-pointers and 16 points as the Nuggets erased a 16-point deficit in the first half Thursday to win 106-103. The other major scoring outputs for Denver came from more familiar sources. Carmelo Anthony scored at least 30 points for the fifth game in a row, with 34, and Chauncey Billups shook off the relative struggles of Game 1 to score 27. The Nuggets still must be troubled by J.R. Smith's continued cold shooting, as he went 1-for-6 for just three points. The Lakers have their own concerns about Derek Fisher, who lost his touch again after nailing three of six from behind the arc in Game 1, going 1-for-9 for three points Thursday. Kobe Bryant tried to make up for it with an efficient 20-shot, 32-point performance, while Trevor Ariza was a force on both ends, with 6-for-7 shooting and 20 points to go with four steals. Yet Ariza will rue his worst play of the night, when he tripped after caputuring a jump ball with the Lakers down two and 18 seconds to go, resulting in a turnover that led to game-clinching free throws by Billups. Each team can now say they've let a game get away, and it will be especially incumbent upon the Lakers to cut down on mistakes as they attempt to capture the next two games in Denver, where the Nuggets haven't lost in more than two months.