05/29/2009 - 00:37
Leading the Way
The seesaw battle that is the 2009 Western Conference Finals continued to teeter-totter on Wednesday night.
Behind 12 points by Derek Fisher, including two clutch free throws in the closing minutes, the Los Angeles Lakers shifted the weight back their way with a 103-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center.
The Lakers now lead the best-of-seven series, three games to two.
Derek fights for a loose ball Wedenesday night (Getty Images).
Of Derek’s 12 points, 10 came in the first half as the Lakers and Nuggets sparred to tie scores at the end of the first quarter and halftime.
After missing a three on the first shot of the game, Fish found himself inside the arc. His first bucket of the night, a running jumper cut an early Denver lead to 8-4.
D-Fish went on to knock down two more mid-range jumpers in the first frame, the second of those giving an 18-15 lead. He had six points on 3-4 shooting when he checked out with 2:23 to go in the opening quarter.
As Brian Kamenetzky of the LA Times Lakers Blog noted, his hot start seemed to give No. 2 his confidence back:
“Derek Fisher had his strongest overall game of the series, helping support LA’s offense early (10 first half points) and, as was noted at the break by my friend Eric Neel of ESPN.com, found a little bit of the swagger he had lost in the first four games. ”
When he returned to the game with 8:54 to go in the half, Fish quickly picked up his first foul, and then missed a driving layup. But he got back on the horse and drew a loose ball foul on Nene to go to the line. With the pressure on, No. 2 sank both of his free buckets to give the Lakers a 38-37 lead.
The Nuggets quickly pulled back in front thanks to Carmello Anthony, but D-Fish made sure it wasn’t for long. The grizzled vet took a Trevor Ariza dish, drove to the basket and laid it in to tie the game at 42.
Fish was held scoreless for the third as the Lakers were spreading the ball around enough to get five players in double figures scoring, but he put his final stamp on the game in the fourth, drawing a foul on Chauncey Billups and sinking both free throws with 37.3 seconds to go, effectively putting the game out of reach.
The series heads back to Denver for game six on Friday night. If the Lakers win, they’ll move on to the NBA Finals to face either the Orlando Magic or the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tip-off for Friday night’s Game 6 is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST and all the action can be seen on ESPN.
Nuggets at Lakers Box Score (NBA.com, May 27, 2009)
Nuggets at Lakers Play by Play (NBA.com, May 27, 2009)
Lakers break through the fourth wall against the Nuggets (Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2009)
Quality, then control, for Lakers (LA Daily News, May 28, 2009)
Lakers 103, Nuggets 94: Game 5 recap (Silver Screen and Roll, May 27, 2009)
Game Five comes alive…(LA Times Lakers Blog, May 28, 2009)
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