You can watch our more detailed recap of the game that put the Los Angeles Lakers up 2-0 over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals here. The short version follows.
LeBron James came out of the gate hot. He was, as many predicted, playing with a chip on his shoulder for coming in second in the MVP balloting. After James cooled off it was left to the Lakers team to collectively due what the Los Angeles Clippers could not do successfully and consistently against these Nuggets, defend them. The Lakers decided the best way to stop the Nuggets was to stop Nikola Jokic. Which, duh. The best way to stop Nikola Jokic though, again something that eluded the Clippers, seemed to be to bully him. Dwight Howard defended the All World player about as well as anyone. The Lakers played bully ball against the Nuggets and their defense did bend, but never broke.
Forgive me for one more Clippers comparison, but it fits. In games 6 and 7 against the Nuggets the Clippers seemed to give up as soon as the Nuggets took the lead. The Lakers had their moment to bend to the will of the Nuggets when they took the lead against them in the fourth quarter. But, inside of “Clippers-ing”, the Lakers, well, they Lakers-ed. They answered back and continued to play hard not letting the Nuggets take control of this game. It started with LBJ and the focus during the middle part of this game was on the Lakers defense and perseverance in the face of the Nuggets run.
The end, was all AD.
Anthony Davis is a great player. No one who knows anything about the sport would doubt or challenge that. But, his ability to shine in the spotlight was always questioned. Until tonight. Tonight, playing for one of the most storied franchises in the Association, in the Conference Finals, with the spotlight firmly on him, AD hit the big shot. The kind of shot that puts you in the same breath as Derek Fisher and Robert Horry and yes, Kobe Bryant. The kind of shot that makes you a part of Lakers lore. Tonight, Anthony Davis became a Lakers player for life. No, I’m not saying he retires as a Lakers player, but that his shot will live forever in the memory of every Lakers fan who screamed after watching that shot hit nothing but net!
It started with the King, it was held together by the defense and team perseverance, and it was won by the Brow. The Lakers are up 2-0 now in the Western Conference Finals and their fans are enjoying having another “Where were you when” moment. Many of those, as I mentioned earlier, come courtesy of former Lakers great Kobe Bryant. Black Mamba had a lot of memorable shots, this was AD’s first in Purple & Gold all while wearing the Lakers Black Mamba jersey too.
Sometimes, reality is much better than any Hollywood script. Coach Frank Vogel said it best.
“We want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honor his memory. Obviously there’s certain games where we’re gonna feel it a little more than others, when we have that uniform on, I think we feel it more than others. That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. So to me, AD coming off, flying through the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the game on the line in the biggest moment of our season, nothing but net, that’s a Mamba shot.”
Mamba shot indeed!