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Kobe, Lakers advance to NBA Finals

May 29, 2009

For a little while there, it looked like Denver was the better team and the one headed for the NBA Finals. In fact, I thought they would easily ride home court Friday night to force a Game 7 in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the Nuggets forgot to show up Friday for Game 6.
And they didn’t just not show up. They looked terrible. Like a team that thought a Game 6 win at home was all but a certainty. I think Skip Bayless‘ tweet during the game put it best:
“Same Chauncey who made Denver is unmaking Denver. Never seen him make so many out-of-control turnovers.”
Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol on the other hand? They brought it. Not only did they bring their best when it mattered most, the Lakers delivered the knock out blow to the Nuggets on the road, something they couldn’t do in the last series against the Yao– and T-Mac-less Rockets.
Look at the scoring numbers: Bryant had 35 points, Trevor Ariza had 17 points, and Gasol and Odom each added 20 points apiece. It wasn’t just Kobe leading the way. The Lakers won the series because the supporting cast stepped up Friday.
Now, after extending its last series to seven games, Los Angeles gets the chance to sit back and wait for its opponent. The Lakers already know when they will play next — June 4 — so it’s just a matter of who and where.
Can LeBron James and the Cavaliers can pull off the comeback from down 3-1 to the Magic? Will we get to see the Kobe-LeBron matchup everyone wants to see? Or will Dwight Howard and Co. challenge the Lakers for the crown? We’ll find out Saturday night in Orlando.
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