May 29 - PEPSI CENTER - DENVER. Playing at the top of their game the Lakers defeated the Nuggets 119-91 and arrived to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.
The Lakers' execution that Phil Jackson always ask to his players was so good that allowed them to shot 57.3 % from the floor including 57.2 % from beyond the three-point line. They took advantage of all the deficiencies showed by the Nuggets and it all started with Kobe Bryant who scored 35 points shooting 12-for-20, took 6 rebounds and shared the ball enough to get 10 assists. Pau Gasol proved once again his versatility and as it happened in game 5 he was the centerpiece of the Lakers offense to ended with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals while Lamar Odom added 20 points and 8 rebounds.
After struggling against the Rockets and losing one game at home against Denver, the Lakers seem to have learned their lesson and didn't waste their first chance to end this series. They even showed that killer instinct that was absent for most of the season and playoffs.
Trevor Ariza scored 10 of his 17 points in the first quarter to help L.A. build a 25-20 lead, the Nuggets got ahead 33-32 almost 5 minutes into the second but it didn't last long. With 11 points from Kobe the Lakers went on a 21-7 run to close the first half leading 53-40. Denver tried to get into the game by shooting 3-pointers but it didn't work as L.A. kept exploding the Nuggets' lack of attitude on the defensive end and a defensive rotation that was a complete disaster. The Nuggets cut their deficit to 79-67 with 1:15 left in the third but Sasha Vujacic closed the period making 4 free-throws. With 7:20 remaining in the game Anthony's jumper made put his team 14 points below and gave the fans some hope but Kobe Bryant scored the next 5 points to silence the stadium and seal the victory. The Nuggets never got closer.
While the Lakers showed how good they can be playing under pressure, the Nuggets showed an old problem that was supposed to be solved with the arrival of Chauncey Billups and is the fragile mentality of some players like Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Dahntay Jones.
The Lakers will try to get their 15th NBA title against either Orlando or Cleveland. The finals begin Thursday, at Cleveland if the Cavaliers win the East or at Los Angeles if the Magic do it.