I didn’t want it to end, but when the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant hit that impossible 3 from the wing late, I knew the ride was over.
At that point, I started thinking about the wrap up to an incredibly exciting, incredibly difficult, and in the end, incredibly rewarding season.
In their first game 7 in 18 years, the Denver Nuggets played the mighty LA Lakers to a standstill. It was tied at 78 with 6:50 to play. That’s right, just minutes away from a date in the Western Conference Semifinals with OKC.
To beat the Nugs, it took Pau Gasol’s best playoff game ever, a double-double from Andrew Bynum, clutch shooting from Kobe, a career shooting night from Stevie Blake, and the return of Metta World Peace. With all that, the Lakers barely won.
I thought Metta was the difference. He guarded Danilo Gallinari to start with and held him to 3 points on 1-9 shooting. When Gallo went out Metta then covered Andre Miller and limited him to 3 points on 1-10 shooting! In addition, MWP made 4-11 3-pointers which really hurt. Without Metta for game 7, I believe the Nuggets would have won.
For three quarters Ty Lawson was the best player on the floor. At that point, he had 24 points, had made 11-14 shots, and dished out 4 assists. However, in the fourth quarter, Ty, guarded mostly by Kobe Bryant, did not score. That being said Ty had a very good regular season, a solid postseason and should be much better next season. One tip for Ty: work on your left hand—it’s what makes Steve Nash and Chris Paul almost unguardable.
The Nuggets big men, JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov certainly had their moments in the series. JaVale was the difference in games 3 and 5. In the other 5 games, however, he was up and down. Mozgov continues to be an enigma. Against the Lakers he plays a confident, physical game. Against other teams, he is often ineffective.
As an aside, I spoke with Kosta Koufos before the game and he told me his knee was good and that he felt the best he had all season long! Too bad he was out of the rotation at that point.
One more thing about the bigs—fellas—practice your free throw shooting during the off-season!!! Please.
Speaking of the off-season, there are lots of decisions to be made by the Nuggets brain trust Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri. And many questions.
Will they re-sign point guard Andre Miller? Can they work out a deal with JaVale McGee and his mom?? What about the logjam at small forward with Gallo, Wilson, Corey Brewer, and the talented Jordan Hamilton? Will Rudy Fernandez be healthy enough to play a full season? By the way, who should start at center? Mozzy, McGee, KK, or Hastings? Finally, who will the Nuggets draft, and can he help (like Kenneth Faried) right away?
Well, it sure was fun while it lasted. Jack Nicholson and Laker nation were scared out of their minds. It took World Peace to bail them out. Bravo to Head Coach George Karl, his staff and a terrific group of players for making this one of the most memorable Denver Nuggets seasons ever.