Okay, I’m not actually getting started on the liveblog until the end of the first quarter. Whatever.
7:06 PM: One of the things that has been really impressive about ‘Melo’s defense this year is how good he’s become at swiping at the ball as the guy he’s guarding starts to bring it up to shoot. He must have had a dozen steals in the Mavs series, 6 or 8 on Dirk alone. Usually, this kind of move is the sort of thing a really bad defender does, but he’s learned how to keep away from the body, so he rarely catches a big hunk of arm and gets a foul called, and he’s combined it with a tendency to go for a hand in the face, rather than going for a block, if the guy he’s guarding goes up for a shot, a la Shane Battier. Which means that he has been remarkably successful guarding really strong offensive players, like Kobe and Nowitzki, without picking up a ton of cheap fouls.
He did something similar in the first quarter, breaking up a 3-on-1 fastbreak by stripping Ariza of the ball as he went to make a pass. Granted, Ariza misplayed it terribly by letting the defender get within an arm’s length on a fastbreak, but still, it was a great play.
Also, awesome weather here tonight, with a tremendous downpour starting about 5 minutes after I got here. The water was sluicing off my parked cars’ wheels in quite an impressive show of hydrodynamic might. I got a pic with Shane’s camera – we’ll see if I can get it uploaded tonight.
7:19 PM : Kobe Bryant is really quite good at this basketball thing. I do believe he has a future in this sport. JR Smith, on the other hand, I have my doubts about sometimes. He is about 0-for-70 currently. I’m curious if he’s going to get back out on the court again.
7:23 PM: My esteemed coblogger has heard this joke many times before, but is there some sort of barber or razor shortage in Europe these days? Why the hell does every European player sport a haircut worthy of Scooby Doo’s Shaggy, along with ‘5 o’clock, 4 days later’ shadow? They’re not real beards, nor actual haircuts, just the mountain man look. One would think, that with a multi-million dollar contract, Pau Gasol could afford a shave every now and again…
8:18 PM: Paraphrasing Christopher Hitchens’ statement about waterboarding, if Dahntay Jones simply shoving Kobe in the back with two hands as he went in for a layup is not a flagrant foul, then there’s no such thing as a technical foul.
8:20 PM: What a clusterfuck of a possession – excellent steal by Chauncey, followed by a should-be-easy 2-on-1 with Jones and Nene vs. Fisher. Fisher gets the steal, Nene hits the floor, then drops a Hulk Hogan-quality elbow onto Gasol, who is appropriately pissed about the resultant jump ball called. Simmons is right – the quality of NBA officiating is absolutely abysmal.
8:24 PM: Absolutely absurd offensive foul called on ‘Melo, as Luke Walton literally dives to the floor as ‘Melo starts to drive to the basket. Followed up by a phenomenal alley-oop between Walton and Kobe on the other end. As Shane notes, Kobe is usually just laying those in these days, but he throws this one down with some authority – showing a little piss and vinegar, as is probably appropriate at this point in the series.
8:27 PM: Excellent possession by the Nuggets’ JR Smith – a double turnover in one play, as he throws the ball away while he is picking up a charge.
8:35 PM: Mirabile Dictu! JR Smith, finally, takes an intelligent 3 off a nice pass from Chanucey, and nails it. Next possession, misses by JR then Kleiza and a nice putback by the Birdman – this is the kind of helter-skelter offense that has been working very well for the Nuggets. And, sure enough, Chancey nails a 3 next time down the court.
8:38 PM: And, in classic fashion, JR nails a killer off-balance three to end the 3rd quarter, then picks up a technical by barking at Sasha Vujamanamamovic. Stuff like that has to drive coach Karl insane, but I feel like a game played at this level of chippiness and emotion has to be in the Nuggets’ favor, as a general rule. Nuggets by 8 going into the fourth.
8:50 PM: Mark Jackson tells us that his name for the Lakers’ quick-passing offense leading to a dunk by Gasol is ‘boom boom Pau’. My ears just started bleeding.
9:05 PM: The Nuggets are not dominating the 4th quarter as I predicted. The lesson, as always: I’m an idiot.
9:06 PM: Nuggets by 1, Kobe makes a spectacular drive and layup, absorbing at least 3 fouls en route, misses the freebie. Missed free throws are going to have been the Lakers’ downfall, should they lose this game.
9:15 PM: JR and Kobe going back-and-forth at one another. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, Kobe is a little, umm, better.
9:21 PM: My car from the earlier rainstorm:
9:23 PM: Ridiculous inability to get the damn ball inbounds ends up with ‘Melo picking up his sixth foul, Ariza makes the free throws, Lakers by 4.
9:25 PM: Kobe at the line, makes ’em both, Lakers by 4 again. Chauncey airballs a three, looks like it’s the Lakers’ night. Have to hand it to the Lakers – the Nuggets couldn’t make shots, and the Lakers continued to hang around, and hang around, and finally grabbed a lead, then stepped right on their throats. The Nuggets played better for 3 quarters, but couldn’t put together a fourth quarter worth note, especially ‘Melo’s really poor 4th quarter effort.
9:28 PM: And that’s it. The Nuggets couldn’t hit a three, other than that little spurt at the end of the 3rd, and their entire fourth quarter offensive effort was pretty lame. They didn’t take terrible shots, just couldn’t hit them. It happens from time to time, but it certainly sucks to see on your home court.