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2009 NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Finals, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets, Game 1

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Los Angeles Lakers

2009 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets

Series Index:

Game 1: Lakers 105, Nuggets 103 at L.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 2: Nuggets 106, Lakers 103 at L.A   Game recap & pictures
Game 3: Lakers 103, Nuggets 97 at Denver   Game recap & pictures
Game 4: Nuggets 120, Lakers 101 at Denver   Game recap & pictures
Game 5: Lakers 103, Nuggets 94 at Los Angeles   Game recap & pictures
Game 6: Lakers 119, Nuggets 92 at Denver   Game recap & pictures

Back to Playoffs 2009

Los Angeles Lakers 1 - 0 Denver Nuggets

GAME 1: L.A. Lakers - Denver Nuggets

After a slow start the Lakers leave a good image.

Leaders Points Rebounds Assists
Lakers Bryant: 40 Gasol: 14 Fisher: 6
Nuggets Anthony: 39 Martin: 8 Billups: 8
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 23 32 19 31 105
DEN 31 23 22 27 103
click for Lakers 2009 Playoff pictures (LA Daily News), Western Conference Finals vs. Denver Nuggets Game 1
Picture Gallery (LAT)

May 19 - STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. - Kobe Bryant had 18 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter including 6 free throws in the final 30 seconds and grabbed a crucial rebound to secure the Lakers victory 105-103 over the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals opener.

Kobe added 6 rebounds and 4 assists and in an extremely physical game he had a personal battle with Carmelo Anthony who had similar numbers with 39 points, 6 rebounds and also 4 assists. Kobe started defending Chauncey Billups (5 points in the first half) and then switched to Anthony and also did a good a job on him despite the weight difference.

The Nuggets missed a great opportunity to steal L.A.'s home court advantage but looked bad at the end while the Lakers started the game as a tired team but did all the right plays when it counted and of course Kobe Bryant took advantage of not having to deal with Artest and Battier.

The Nuggets dominated the game in the first quarter leading by as much as 13 points, 27-14 with less than 2 minutes left in the period but the Lakers slowly closed the gap in the second until two free throws by Josh Powell gave them their first lead of the game with 1:09 remaining. Denver was leading again, 54-52 when Kobe assisted Derek Fisher on the corner for a buzzer-beating three-pointer that made it 55-54 in the first half.

In the third, neither team led by more than five points. Fisher, who ended with 13, scored 7 consecutive in a Lakers 9-0 run for a 70-66 lead but the Nuggets answered closing the quarter with a 10-4 run to enter the fourth up 76-74 and they in fact led for most of the final period, but nobody could contain Kobe who scored at will and assisted Fisher again for a three that put L.A. ahead 97-96 with 2:30 left.

From then on Denver committed a couple of mistakes and the Lakers capitalized them to the maximum, Ariza had a key play stealing an inbound pass and the game looked over when Kobe made two free throws for a 103-99 lead with 10 seconds left, but Chauncey Billups made a 3-pointer 4 seconds later. Then Kobe made two more free throws and grabbed the rebound when J.R. Smith intentionally missed his. Kobe netted 15 points in the final 6:48 of game.

Gasol added 13 points and had another strong game on the boards grabbing 14 rebounds, six of them on the offensive end while Bynum started as center and as usual committed foul after foul to end with 5 of them and 6 points in almost 16 minutes. Both had problems dealing with the Nuggets' big men Nene (14 points and a couple of spectacular dunks) and Kenyon Martin (15 points), particularly in the first half, but Denver missed 12 free throws for a .657 percentage and lost 14-4 in the offensive rebounds category, giving up 22 second-chance points.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LAL Coach): "We won that game on energy and gutting it out. They outmuscled us and put pressure on the passers. We talked about getting the game close enough to win it at the end. We got a couple stops that helped us"

Kobe Bryant (Lakers): about Carmelo Anthony "“It was a lot of fun, he’s a bull down there, I am a little out of my weight class, but I'll give it my best shot."

Lamar Odom (Lakers): "It's crazy that you start to get used to it. You get used to greatness, he was amazing. He wanted the ball. Kobe is always going to help you or bail you out more than he hurts you."

George Karl (Nuggets Coach): "There’s no moral victories in playoff basketball, the next 48 hours are going to be difficult." "I'm not really going to analyze, they're a great team, they were great in the end and they have the best closer in the sport."

Highlights

Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets
Leaders: Pts Reb Ast St Bl More
Kobe Bryant 40 6 4 - 1  
Pau Gasol 13 14 3 1 2 6 Off R
Derek Fisher 13 2 6 1 -  
Lamar Odom 7 8 4 2 2  
Trevor Ariza 6 5 2 3 -  
Leaders: Pts Reb Ast St Bl More
Carmelo Anthony 39 6 4 - 1  
Chauncey Billups 18 5 8 1 -  
Kenyon Martin 15 8 2 2 2  
Nene Hilario 14 5 1 1 1  
J.R. Smith 8 5 3 - 1  

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