Q&A of the day
Question: For all the sarcasm Phil Jackson directs at Vladimir Radmanovic, I swear I've seen him make some fine passes to Pau Gasol in the post. Also, he seems to deflect the occasional pass (from the other team) when he plays defense. Is he underrated, especially as a passer? --Mark Schallert, San Francisco
Answer: Radmanovic can do just about anything when he puts his mind to it (except winter sports). The problem is his consistency. He made only three of 10 shots in Game 2 and picked up two quick fouls in a quiet Game 1. He owes Luke Walton a petite filet at The Palm for coming to the rescue in both games. Or maybe Walton owes Radmanovic for the boost in playing time.
Best-case Lakers scenario
The Nuggets' defense gets even worse (if that's possible) and Kobe Bryant rolls two of his best games ever into one -- 81 points and 10 assists.
Worst-case Lakers scenario
J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin trash-talk each other instead of Bryant, and the fired-up Nuggets finally put together a complete game.
So you're saying he's not soft . . .
Bryant rallied to Pau Gasol's defense when asked if Gasol had shed a tag of being "soft."
"That was silly to me," Bryant said. "I've seen him play in Memphis. He didn't look soft to me. When he had those matchups against [Kevin] Garnett and [Tim] Duncan, he didn't look soft to me. And if you asked them, I don't think any of them would tell you that he's soft. That wasn't something we felt he had to dispel. He's never been soft."
The Lakers don't want to be like the 1969 team that lost a 2-0 lead and fell in seven games to Boston in the NBA Finals (the only Lakers team in 35 previous chances that failed to hang on to a 2-0 series edge). The next step is winning tonight. It will happen, just barely, after the Lakers outlast a spirited effort by Allen Iverson and the Nuggets' crowd.