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Kobe and 'Melo Go Toe-to-Toe, but Lakers Edge Out Nuggets in Game 1

May 20, 2009 – 12:51 AM
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Nate Jones

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Kobe Bryant and Carmelo AnthonyKobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony put on an absolute show in Game 1 of what looks to be an outstanding Western Conference finals. 'Melo finished with 39 points on 14-20 shooting while Bryant finished with 40 points by going 13-28 from the field. The Nuggets led for much of the game, but the Lakers pulled ahead late to win 105-103.

The Nuggets came out with an excellent strategy defensively, making sure that the Lakers could not get the ball inside to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, who finished with six and 13 respectively, and forcing Bryant to step up and beat them on his own. And step up he did. Kobe lived up to his "best closer in the game" label, hitting clutch shots and free throws in the fourth quarter.
Lakers 105, Nuggets 103: Recap | Box Score


As impressive as Kobe was, I came away just as impressed with the effort of Carmelo Anthony. It's safe to say I've never seen Anthony play with this kind of effort in an NBA game. On the offensive side of the ball he was an absolute bruiser, punishing the Lakers on the post and on the offensive glass. He destroyed every defender the Lakers threw at him, forcing the Lakers to throw Kobe on him in the fourth. After the game, Kobe referred to his attempts to guard 'Melo as "wrestling with a bear."

What was most impressive about 'Melo's performance was his effort on the defensive side of the ball. He smothered Bryant for much of the second half, denying him the ball and playing him as well as anyone possibly could.

Of course, Kobe had a spectacular fourth, but it really was no fault of 'Melo's. It was more a story of Kobe just being a supernova. They could have thrown Dennis Rodman in his prime on Kobe in the fourth and he still would have gotten his. Put it this way, without 'Melo's effort, Kobe might have had more than 50 tonight.

The league, Vitamin Water and Nike have been playing up the possibility of a LeBron vs. Kobe NBA Finals, but I'm telling you, this Carmelo Anthony vs. Kobe Bryant matchup might be much more entertaining. Trust me, you don't want to miss a minute of this series.

Latest NBA Playoff Photos

    Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony dunks in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference final basketball playoff game in Los Angeles, May 19, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony smiles in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference final basketball playoff game in Los Angeles, May 19, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin rests on the floor during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, Tuesday, May 19, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    AP

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (C) tries to drive through Denver Nuggets center Chris Andersen (L) and guard Anthony Carter in Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference final basketball playoff game in Los Angeles, May 19, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (C) tries to drive through Denver Nuggets center Chris Andersen (L) and guard Anthony Carter in Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference final basketball playoff game in Los Angeles, May 19, 2009. Nuggets Nene of Brazil is at right. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant slams the ball to the floor and gets a technical foul during the second half against the Denver Nuggets during Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, Tuesday, May 19, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark Avery)

    AP

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Denver Nuggets in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Jackson

    Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: Musician Justin Timberlake attends Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on May 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Justin Timberlake

    Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: Kobe Bryant #24 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers box out Chris Andersen #11 of the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter of Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kobe Bryant;Pau Gasol;Chris Andersen

    Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: (M) Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers yells from the bench in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Pau Gasol

    Getty Images

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