Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Western Conference Finals Game 4
This time, the Nuggets started and finished. Denver was done in by going nearly half the fourth quarter without a field goal in Game 3, but on Monday kept on scoring as seven players wound up in double-figures during a 120-101 victory that tied the Western Conference Finals at 2-2. The tightly called game resulted in 49 free throws for the Nuggets but only 38 for the Lakers, and Carmelo Anthony, in particular, took advantage. He was dealing with a stomach virus and suffered a sprained ankle in the first half, but mitigated a 3-for-16 shooting night with a 9-for-11 performance at the line for 15 points. It was nonetheless well below Anthony's average, so Billups, who was 9-for-9 at the line, and J.R. Smith, who nailed four of nine three-point attempts, filled in the gaps and scored 24 apiece. Denver's bench outscored L.A.'s 42-24, led by Smith and 10 points from Linas Kleiza, and the Nuggets pounded the Lakers on the boards, pulling down a 58-40 advantage. Kenyon Martin had 15 rebounds, Chris Andersen 14 and Nene 13, while Pau Gasol led the Lakers with just 10. Gasol and Andrew Bynum had an efficient night down low, with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting for Gasol and 14 points on 6-for-7 from the field for Bynum. Kobe led all scorers with 34 points, but shot just 10-for-26 from the field and 2-for-10 from behind the arc. The struggles of Lamar Odom continued, as he shot 1-for-8 for five points and failed to score more than 10 points for the eighth game in a row, after averaging 17.8 points per game in the first round. The Lakers might be able to slip by the Nuggets if Odom doesn't become more productive, but they won't win a title. They'll do neither if they can't rebound or defend without fouling.