The LA Lakers are moving on to the second round of the Western Conference NBA Playoffs after beating the Denver Nuggets 96-87 in a thrilling game 7 at the Staples Center. Before we go on to tell you about how it was up to the Lakers unusual suspects to reel in the win, we want to talk a little about the Denver Nuggets. Let’s face it, general manager Masai Ujiri and head coach George Karl have done a terrific job reshaping this team from scratch this season. Let’s go ahead and put this season into perspective: On February 22, 2011, after months of speculation that he wanted to leave the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks. Considering that the squad would be left with very young and inexperienced players many feared this team would become the Cleveland Cavaliers of the Western Conference, a squad that once it lost its franchise player, Carmelo Anthony, would slowly sink.
As a matter of fact, the Nuggets seem to be doing much better without him. So when you take into account that this team almost pulled off a comeback from a 3-1 deficit against the LA Lakers, you cant help but to feel a little proud for this squad. The sixth-seeded Nuggets were guided by Ty Lawson and Al Harrington who finished the night with 24 points apiece. It was a good effort but 19 turnovers against the Lakers and managed 7-of-27 shooting in the fourth quarter are not going to be that easy to get over with. Arron Afflalo scored 15 points for Denver, who still haven’t been able to make it pass the first round. As a matter of fact Denver has lost in the first round in eight of the last nine postseasons. But this has verstainly been the most entertaining and well fought for of the all. “Tomorrow or the next day, when the funk gets out of your body, you’re going to be proud of them,” said the Nuggets head coach George Karl in the postgame conference. “I’ve never been in a locker room at the end of a season where every guy in front of me, I’m happy with and I’m content with.
The game was so physical. I think their size won over our speed. We gave a great effort. We made them miss enough shots to win, but we just didn’t rebound the ball.” We couldn’t have said it better. It’s not just that we tend to have a soft spot for the underdog, it’s just that the Nuggets really turned this one around. We’ve got to come clean: Metta World Peace, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest is really not one of our favorite characters in the sports world. Then again, we have to realize that he was a very important part of the Nuggets not been able to win this match against the Lakers. World Peace finished the night with 15 points and 5 rebounds coming off a 7-game suspension for a class-less foul on James Harden. But the man of the hour was Pau Gasol, a player who once in a while, and when his team needs him most, comes out of his lethargic state to pull off a performance like this one. The Spaniard guided the Lakers with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists. I guess that if you call him soft so many times he is just going to prove you how ferocious he can be. Let’s only wait and see what they can now do against the Oklahoma City Thunder in round 2.