Mr. Big Shot lived up to his name, but it wasn't quite enough. In one of the most exciting finishes this entire playoffs, the Lakers pulled out Game 1 105-103. Kobe and 'Melo battled to the death, both having spectacular games on both ends of the floor. Ultimately, it came down to Denver's atrocious free throw shooting in the first half, and that spelled Heartbreak City for for the Pastel Playas.
The Lakers got to the line and made foul shots all game long, not just in pressure situations. Things got sloppy occasionally, but this game ended up being better than we expected.
Though you'll hear how demoralized they are for not winning, I think the Nuggets should be able to build on a lot of positives here. Carmelo played what may have been his best game yet in a stellar series of playoff games. His defense on Kobe curtailed what could have been an even more ridiculous performance by Bryant. Furthermore 'Melo and the Nuggets, notably Anderson and Billups, played their hearts out. And they got under the Lakers' skin, as evidenced by the T called on Kobe Beef in the third quarter.
This game really could have gone either way. It was a physical game, a tail of two superstars. But it came down to the wire. The final seconds will go down as absolutely classic. Ariza's steal looked like it would be enough to seal the game, but Mr. Big Shot hit a ridiculous trey from the corner to bring Denver within one. But LA, with the one point advantage, was able to take care of business by hitting all of their foul shots down the stretch. The Nuggets' last ditch effort at intentionally missing a foul shot was for naught.
The Lakers hung on, but did not dominate in any sense of the word. I still believe the Nuggets have a good chance in this series. LA is far from infallible on its home court. If Denver can take Game 2, then look out LA.