April 29, 2008
Fast Breaks: Nuggets-Lakers
By Arash Markazi
Game 4   Leaders
Lakers win series 4-0   Points Rebounds Assists
107 101
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
• Anyone who has watched the NBA playoffs on TNT is well aware of the network's original series The Closer, with ads for the series streaming ad nausea during games. Well, anyone who has watched these playoffs is also well aware that there is no greater closer in the league than Kobe Bryant. While Bryant (pictured) was held to two points for much of the second half, he scored 14 of his game-high 31 points in the last 5 1/2 minutes of the Lakers' series-clinching win over the Nuggets, beginning his run with the score tied 88-88. "Kobe took over the game in the fourth quarter," Carmelo Anthony told reporters after the game. "It's tough. I thought we did a good job on him early on but he just exploded at the end of the game. It's something he always does."

• The Nuggets didn't roll over for the Lakers as many thought they would after Anthony said the team quit in Game 3. They played their best half of the series to open Game 4, hitting 51.2 percent of their shots with Anthony, Allen Iverson and J.R. Smith in double-figure scoring going into halftime. One problem, though: The Lakers took a 64-54 lead into halftime and even led by as many as 13 during one stretch in the second quarter when the Nuggets hit 12-of-15 shots. The surprisingly persistent Nuggets continued to push the Lakers in the second half, cutting the lead to one at the end of the third period. The Nuggets' run came to an end when Anthony and Kenyon Martin fouled out in the final two minutes. "I feel like we gave everything we had and we put it all on the line and you got to accept that when guys give it all they have," Iverson said. "I felt my teammates gave it all they had but we just got beat by a better team."

• Marcus Camby is one of the best defensive players in the league, but he's become a one-dimensional player as of late. After combining for 10 points in the first two games, Camby went scoreless in Games 3 and didn't score in Game 4 until a late three-pointer, giving him a total of 13 points for the series. His offensive deficiencies, however, can be forgiven considering he grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked four shots in the game. Camby, last year's Defensive Player of the Year, averaged 15.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in the last three games, although he may have been the only player on the team playing defense.

• After averaging 16.3 points and 5.3 assists in the first three games of the series, Luke Walton came back to reality Monday, finishing with seven points and no assists after getting into early foul trouble. Of course, he more than made up for his lower numbers in Game 4 by hitting a clutch three-pointer that gave the Lakers a 100-96 lead with 2:38 remaining.

• In terms of playing team basketball, you will never find two teams on more opposite ends of the spectrum than the Lakers and Nuggets. While the Lakers, who averaged 28 assists per game in this series, make it a point to get everyone on the floor a touch, no playoff team moves the ball around more poorly than the Nuggets, who averaged 18.5 assists in the four games. They are a group of immensely talented individuals who make up one of the best teams on paper, but calling them a "team" would be a stretch. So what needs to be done about a team that has been one and done in the last five playoffs? "I don't know, I'll leave that up to the front office," Anthony said. "I don't make those decisions. I try not to get involved with that."

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