Just as I predicted, the Nuggets stole one from the Lakers last night. A little more to my surprise, the Magic stole one from the Cavs as well two nights ago. This leaves both Cleveland and Los Angeles in unexpected and unfamiliar waters. Meanwhile, the Magic and Nuggets sit fastened in the driver's seat.
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Kobe and the Lakers ran into the Nuggets at the wrong time. Not so lucky for them, that time is the Western Conference Finals. Denver is confident and fearless. And that's just their small forward. The rest of the team is playing focused and with passion.
Denver turned the tables on the Lakers in Game 2. They made the right decisions late in the game and came up with the big defensive stops when they needed them. Carmelo edged Kobe in points this time, and big-shot Billups stayed true to his name (with mostly big free throws), en route to victory.
The win means the Nuggets possess home-court advantage for the time being. But don't expect the NBA's best road team (Lakers: 29-12) to roll over in Denver. The Lakers are a team of resilience. When they feel they have something to prove, they always seem to perform. See 40- and 19-point victories last series.
Expect another great game, as one of the prematurely proclaimed best series ever continues this weekend in Denver.
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Lebron James sat atop his throne Wednesday night, putting on a show for the ages. Only it was ruined by a shameful performance from the King's royal court. LBJ was an unstoppable force. His jumpshot was en fuego, which meant he could pretty much do whatever he wanted. And he did. He drew double and triple and quadruple and quintuple teams, leaving teammate after teammate after teammate wide open for shots. The team must have been taking shots of whiskey before the game though, because they couldn't get a shot to fall for the life of them. James even playfully criticized Moe Williams at halftime, saying he was missing some of the easiest shots of his life.
Playful criticism quickly turned to disappointment when the Cavs saw their 15-point lead disappear in the third quarter. Rashard Lewis found his stroke, Hedo Turkoglu digested his pregame pizza and decided to join the game, and before you knew it, the Magic were back in it.
Unfortunately for the Cavs, Lebron didn't realize he needed to take every shot before it was too late. And even then, he was forced to give Delonte West the game winning shot, which he could have used to polish off the brick house he assembled all game.
It must have been tough for Cavs players to look Lebron in the eye after he scored 49 points on 67% shooting, and yet no one could muster up one made basket to ease the load on his shoulders. As always, Lebron will be humble and blame no one for the loss, but he deserves to be able to chastise his team for their pathetic play.
It's inexcusable for NBA players to miss that many wide open shots. Especially wide open shots in their comfort zone. Ilgauskas, Williams, and West put on forgettable performances. I think Daniel Gibson should have been given a chance. At least Cavs fans know he can hit big shots in the clutch. Either the Conference Finals are too big for these young stars or the aliens from Moron Mountain must've stolen most of the Cavs "game". It's tough to say for sure.
Lebron's supporting cast needs to show up. Let's face it. Lebron is the chosen one. But he doesn't shoot lights out every game. When he does, even the littlest margin of help wins Cleveland that game, but when he doesn't, he needs his role players to hit the big shots he sets up for them. Lebron may be an unstoppable force, perhaps a greater being, but you can't win championships 1 on 5.
Even Jordan had Bill Wennington.
Image taken from espn.com