The Lakers came up with the big plays to beat the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals tonight at Staples Center. They refused to say they stole the game from the Nuggets, but I will say it for them. They stole the game from the Nuggets.
Here’s some of the postgame chatter from both locker rooms:
Lakers coach Phil Jackson: “We kind of won that game just on energy and gutting it out, finding a way to get some stops at the end of the game and make some plays at the other end of the floor, some big ones. I think they outplayed us, but we won the game.”
Denver coach George Karl: “I’m not going to analyze it, They (the Lakers) are a great team. They were great in the game. They have the best closer in the sport (Kobe Bryant), and we didn’t do enough. We didn’t do enough to win the game.”
Bryant, who scored 18 of his team-leading 40 points in the fourth quarter: “We just had to gut it out. It was a tough game. We were down virtually the whole game. We just had to dig deep a little bit and see if we couldn’t pull it out. … It’s a little bit of desperation. You have to have that. It’s a sense of urgency. It’s not sit back and let the game come to us. Now is the time, the moment. This is what we’ve been waiting for all year.”
Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, who had 39 points: “I’m sitting up here thinking that we had a lot of chances to win the basketball game. I know a lot of people think it came down to that steal (Trevor Ariza’s interception of Anthony Carter’s inbounds pass with 30.5 seconds remaining). But us missing 12 free throws, (coming out on the wrong side of) 22-10 on second-chance points. That’s a lot. You can’t win no game like that.”