Watching the Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Lakers game last night caused this particular Nuggets fan an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu. Like the Nugs have done for ages (until, for the most part, this year), the Rockets blasted off to an early, commanding, seemingly insurmountable lead only to gradually but steadily give almost all of it back. During this stretch, the Lakers displayed the sort of mental toughness associated with champions. They could have gone into garbage-time mode in the middle of the first quarter -- but instead, they kept fighting, giving every indication that they expected to win.
Except that they didn't -- and that's a very good sign for the Nuggets. I expect the Lakers to win game seven at home on Sunday, meaning that the Western Conference finals won't start until Tuesday in L.A., and I must confess that the length of the layoff worries me. (Anyone remember what happened to the Colorado Rockies when they sat for too long prior to being swept in the World Series a couple of years back? When you wake up at night in a cold sweat, that is?) But the Lakers have looked anything but invincible during the postseason -- and if a Rockets squad without either Tracy McGrady or (more importantly) Yao Ming can push Kobe Bryant and company to the brink like this, the Nuggets shouldn't be written off by anyone, including those of us who've repeatedly watched them blow leads like a ten-dollar hooker over the years.
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These days, the Nugs are a much pricier bunch.