LOS ANGELES – The Game 1 dissection seemed easy enough: Andrew Bynum, Andrew Bynum and more Andrew Bynum, plus some Kobe Bryant (31 points, on 11-of-24 shooting) and meaningful contributions from L.A. role players.
Except that Sunday at Staples Center offered many more relevant points about what the 103-88 victory meant for the Lakers, facts that may have gotten lost in Bynum’s star turn. The Nuggets and Lakers certainly will make note of them as they practice Monday in preparation of Game 2 on Tuesday night (10:30 ET, TNT).
For all the talk about Denver needing to push the ball like it does against the rest of the league — especially in this case because speed can hurt the Lakers — the Nuggets haven’t shown the ability to do anything other than talk about it. All season.
The Nuggets led the league in scoring at 104.1 points an outing, but against the Lakers managed 92, 99, 89 and 97 in losing three of four in the regular season and 88 in dropping the playoff opener. If L.A. isn’t committing turnovers to start the Denver transition game (and the Lakers had only 11 in Game 1) and the Nuggets can’t get easy baskets in the halfcourt because Bynum has turned the paint into a no-fly zone, any chance of a series upset is over.
One of the biggest concerns for the Lakers going into Game 1 – small forward – proved nothing to worry about in the easy win. Metta World Peace was missed on defense (Danilo Gallinari scored a team-high 19 points for the Nuggets), but Devin Ebanks, starting in place of the suspended World Peace, made five of six shots and added five rebounds in 19 minutes. Matt Barnes went from missing the regular-season finale Thursday to playing 29 minutes and being kept in during the fourth quarter of a blowout in a clear sign there were no lingering injury problems.
Finally, that was nice offensive rhythm for a team that hadn’t played together in a week due to rest, a schedule break and injury. The Lakers scored 103 points without Bynum or Pau Gasol attempting a free throw and shot 50 percent. The contributions of Ebanks, Ramon Sessions (6 of 11 from the field in his playoff debut), Jordan Hill (10 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks in 24 minutes) and Steve Blake (three 3-pointers in the first quarter to bust the game open) were more sources of concern for the Nuggets.