April 21, 2008

Thanks to Pau, Lakers Pounce on Nuggets

The Spaniard who couldn't win a playoff game is no more.

Thanks to Pau Gasol's strong game with 36 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocked shots, the Los Angeles Lakers convincingly won Game 1 in its first round series against the Denver Nuggets.

Gasol played his first seven seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies and had played a total of 13 playoff games with them. All those games ended up in losses and playoff elimination. This season however is a different matter.

Pau Gasol was hitting midrange jumpers, field goal stabs, jump hooks and dunks off fast breaks. The playoff atmosphere obviously impacted him in a very positive way. His 36 points and 8 assists in Game 1 are both career highs for Gasol for the playoffs. He also figured as the centerpiece for the offense as Lamar Odom was feeding Gasol nice passes in the post.

Speaking of Lamar Odom, he also had a solid game. He finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals and he scored all his field goals within the 3-point arc. Odom ditching the 3-ball means he's doing damage inside and giving the Denver Nuggets frontline fits.

Kobe Bryant did score 32 points, but had a poor shooting night (~34%) and dished out only a single assist. I would say Luke Walton played better ball than Kobe for Game 1 overall. Luke Walton!

The Nuggets duo of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony got 30 points apiece on a pretty decent percentage together (44%) but the Nuggets couldn't come up with a concerted effort to pull an upset a la Philadelphia 76ers.

Will Gasol be the Lakers' ace in their match up against the Nuggets? Let's see how Denver Nuggets coach George Karl can make adjustments. But for now, Gasol is relishing Playoff Win #1.

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