DENVER -- There will be no Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals because
"It was a very controlled, excellent game from him," said Lakers coach
And it wasn't just Bryant who looked like he was through with Denver. It was
"Whoever awoke Lamar Odom," said Nuggets coach
"They are the best team in the NBA," said Karl.
But in the end, it was all about Kobe, who now stands just four wins away from finally shedding
This Nuggets team has teeth. At least they did until Bryant whittled them down and then yanked them. It wasn't that Bryant scored 35 points. It was the 12-for-20 from the field. It was the 9-for-9 from the foul line. It was the 10 assists. It was the six rebounds. It was the 11 points he scored in the final 3:09 of the first half to expand the Lakers lead from a manageable six to an out-of-reach 13.
"He made four shots during that stretch that I think Jesus would have had trouble covering," said Karl.
It was the runner Bryant made in the third quarter with Billups hanging off his forearm like a 202-pound coat hanger. It was the three he deposited with the clock winding down in the second quarter and the shot he swatted a few seconds later. Bryant finished the game an absurd +31 and had the smattering of Lakers fans in attendance drowning out more than 20,000 stunned Nuggets fans with chants of "M-V-P."
"I'm not going to watch this film for a long time," said Karl. "Maybe never."
The Lakers will have plenty of time to watch as they prepare for their second straight trip to the NBA Finals. One half of the dream match is set and as Bryant and the Lakers wait to see if
"We saved our best game for last," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "Tonight was a game where we played at the highest level."
Especially Kobe. Though it can be argued that his level was even higher.