Kobe BryantImage: Source

The Denver Nuggets came to LA and did everything right during most of the game. They held a seven point lead during the fourth, but Kobe Bryant, him and not much else, were too much in the end. Kobe scored 40 points, beating Carmelo Anthony in their personal duel by one point, including six free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game to guide the Lakers to victory, 105-103 and a 1-0 lead in the series.

The Nuggets started aggressive and hard, out hustling and out muscling the Lakers but just couldn’t get a big lead and run away with the game. Carmelo Anthony was on fire, shooting 14 for 20 from the field including 4 of 5 from three point range. His starting five teammates weren’t too bad either – Chauncey Billups finished with 18, Kenyon Martin with 15 and Nene with 14. But it stopped there. Their bench only gave 16 points, with J.R. Smith and Andersen splitting those 16.They needed more, they need more from their bench to beat the Lakers, even on a night like this.

Besides Kobe, there wasn’t a lot of offense for the Lakers. Phil Jackson said after the game “He was the scoring opportunity for us. We had very little else going on. He muscled his way through.” Pau Gasol scored 13, Derek Fisher scored 13, and that was it. But Pau was huge under the baskets and defensively, grabbing 14 rebounds, 6 offensive and also blocked two shots. The Lakers bench was deep enough to outscore the Nuggets’ bench 27-16 to make up for another weak Bynum-Odom outing.

Game 2? Denver did almost everything right, they just lacked that extra something to come away with that win. Maybe J.R. Smith is that something. Maybe it’s Carter and/or west, who combined for one point. Anyhow, the Nuggets need everyone to click in order to take out the Lakers, especially in LA. Otherwise, Kobe , some Gasol and a little help from the rest will be a bit too much for them, no matter how much the Lakers aren’t impressing anyone.