Arguably the most memorable moment of last night's Nuggets-Lakers playoffs game saw ailing superstar Kobe Bryant fell rising rookie Kenneth Faried with a flagrant foul; see it and plenty of other video below. But this play was hardly symbolic of the contest as a whole. The Nugs, who once looked as dead as the Betamax in this series, triumphed in a 113-96 runaway that made the Lake Show look ready for cancellation.
Locally, the pre-game media was swamped by news of Chris "Birdman" Andersen's home being searched in a child-porn investigation. But the Bird has been less than irrelevant against L.A. thus far, with his goodbye from the Nuggets already widely anticipated. And if anyone thought Denver would be distracted nonetheless, they were quickly disabused of that notion when the Nuggets ran off thirteen consecutive points to start the contest, led by Ty Lawson dropping three ball after three ball in utter defiance of his poor shooting in most of the matches that preceded this one.
Meanwhile, Bryant was suffering from a stomach malady that had TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager mentioning diarrhea and vomiting in his pre-game tease. This diagnosis raised the specter of a Michael Jordan-like Flu Game miracle, and KB did his best to match that effort, racking up 31 points by night's end.
But Bryant was let down by his supporting cast. Pau Gasol has been pretty much a missing person up until this point, as witnessed by this bit of ridicule from the NBA Memes page:
Likewise, Andrew Bynum, who initially seemed an unstoppable force in this series, has been transformed into a mere mortal by the combined efforts of big men Timofey Mozgov, JaVale McGee and Faried. In the end, Bynum tallied just eleven points -- third in scoring for the Lakers behind Bryant and the not exactly legendary Ramon Sessions, who had fourteen.
That kind of stat line isn't going to win many games -- not when the Nuggets were feeling it. Lawson's point total was frontloaded, but he still chalked up 32 in what was easily his best game of the series. And he was supplemented by Faried, with fifteen, and particularly Corey Brewer, whose explosive second-half play and eighteen points helped turn the game into a laugher.
Now the Nuggets return to L.A. for a Saturday game seven no one saw coming. Plenty of observers still don't believe in the squad, as illustrated by this:
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But minds are beginning to be changed, as witnessed by this post-game photo-comment on Lawson: The Lakers still have to be considered prohibitive favorites to advance given their home-court advantage and the mammoth chip that is no doubt on Bryant's shoulder about now. But the Nuggets have a puncher's chance. Like Faried, they were down, but they've gotten back up.
Look below to see a game recap, a focus on the flagrant foul and the top ten NBA plays of the night, in which the Nugs are prominently featured.
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