It’s known as the Gentlemen’s Sweep, and typically when a team is down 3-1 one in an elimination game, they do lose. However, thanks to a few pre-game words from Andrew Bynum:
“Close-out games are actually kind of easy. Teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard in the beginning, so we want to come out and establish an early lead and protect it.”
The thing is, Andrew Bynum never put his money where his mouth was, as Denver prolonged the series to a Game 6 in a 102-99 victory. Denver used Bynum’s loose-lipped message as bulletin board material as they were pumped to prove Bynum, as well as many others, wrong. They did just this as JaVale McGee and Andre Miller stole the show.
Many were crucifying and vilifying George Karl after Denver closely contested loss in Game 4, but somehow, someway, the old school coach found the right lineup to bring the series back to Denver. Outsiders may not understand what a relished moment this was for Denver fans, perhaps they had forgotten about the Carmelo Anthony era. It took Carmelo until 2008-09 to win more than one game — they saw the Western Conference Finals that year — and Denver had all the makes to lose another series in 5 games.
However, George Karl, with a swiftness, with some motivation from Andrew Bynum won a monstrous game on the road — nonetheless — to bring the series, and a second chance, back to Denver on Thursday. The biggest key in this win was JaVale McGee.
Yes, that defunct JaVale McGee from the Washington WIzards whom has blossomed under George Karl’s system. JaVale McGee, 21 points and 14 boards, is the Cinderella story of the NBA Playoffs — the guy who was seen in Washington to make boneheaded play after boneheaded play. That same person has shown he can be a difference maker and it has brought the best out of him in the Lakers-Nuggets series. That’s why he receives my game ball because his hustle and determination show what he truly is capable of made all the difference in Game 5. JaVale McGee, through his production and turn around in Denver, is out proving that Denver’s GM, Masai, is a trading god of some sort. He is making the Nene trade look better and better with each game that is played.
My favorite JaVale McGee play was when Andre Miller lobbed him a pass from 60-feet away. It was gorgeous.
JaVale McGee out-worked, out-hustled, out-played the problematic Andrew Bynum in every way.
Denver WANTED it more than L.A. They EXPECTED to win. Someone should have sent them a memo, this isn’t the same Nuggets they saw back in 2008-09.
Not only did JaVale McGee have the game of his career, but the underrated veteran point guard, Andre Miller, rewarded Nuggets fans and Coach Karl with his 24 points from 8-for-11 shooting and 8 rebounds. It was a perfect game from the Denver Nugget as he obliterated whatever L.A. sent his way. I’ve long been an advocate for Andre Miller, he does all the ‘little things’ that many forget until they see a game like this that puts Andre’s brilliance on full display.
Arron Afflalo and Kenneth Faried, also, had outstanding games for Denver and they were both key on the offensive and defensive fronts. Kenneth Faried, whom has showed improved defense during this series, finished with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting and 9 rebounds. Afflalo scored 19 points, with 13 of those being in the first half, and was unmeasurably aggressive — something, as many of you know, I love to see from Denver — however, if he could chill on those three-pointers, it would be nice.
I know….I know… the old adage goes “You can’t make any three-pointer if you don’t shoot.”
To show you what a rarity it was to win against Los Angeles when it’s their first try to take the series, Los Angeles has closed out a playoff series in 11 of its previous 12 opportunities.
Let’s return to Bynum’s remarks before the game, and what Kobe thought about them post-game:
“That’s true, close-outs can be easy. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights. … Did it pump them up? Probably. You never want to give anybody bulletin board material, but if you’re going to be a champion, you’ve got to play through things like that.”
Even Kobe’s 43 points couldn’t save a Lakers team; where the Twin Towers didn’t show up, their minds were already looking at round-two.
Now, they have to return to an ear-deafening Pepsi Center for Game 6.
Denver has a new leash on life and entering Game 6, I will point you to this video:
Step by step, ooooohhh Denver, really want ya to get to Game 7.
Step by step, I really want you in my Game 7 world.
Step 1: Make Game 6 fun
Step 2: There’s so much shooting to doooo.
Step 3: It’s just another chance for victory.
Step 4: JaVale and Manimal give us dunks galore
Step 5: Let the world know the Nuggets have arrived.