As soon as the whistle blew, Lakers guard Ramon Sessions leaped into action.
He pulled his legs up off the floor. His eyes darted toward the Staples Center scoreboard. He paced in frustration.
Sessions had just been charged with a foul after attempting to stop a dunk by Nuggets guard Corey Brewer, a play Sessions later said proved a "tough call to make going at that speed." Yet, Sessions' reaction after Brewer made one of two free throws showed how the call incited his aggressiveness.
On the next possession, Sessions dribbled right past Brewer and drove into the lane. When he immediately met a double team, Sessions cut back. Once Lakers forward Pau Gasol set a pick on Brewer along the right elbow, Sessions dribbled left, curled off the screen and then shot a seven-foot floater that sank into the net.
That play marked just the beginning. Sessions helped the Lakers secure a 104-100 Game 2 victory Tuesday at Staples Center by scoring 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and heeding advice from his teammates.
"The guys in here want me to stay aggressive," said Sessions after playing his second career playoff game. "I'm going to keep being aggressive. I felt like toward the end of the game, I was just getting the same shots early on. They were just going in."
Sessions went four-of-eight from the field in the fourth quarter by tossing up two running floaters and converting on two fast breaks; he also made two free throws. But he was only two of eight entering the period, partly because he was taking shots out of his range. Those included a 25-foot three-pointer in the second period and another 25-footer in the third.
"Sometimes he settles into the lane and he's a little too passive," said Laker guard Kobe Bryant, who led the team with 38 points on 15-of-29 shooting. "We don't want him to be bashful. When he gets in the paint, he's got to be aggressive and he's got to look to score and keep the defense honest."
Sessions showed that in the fourth quarter, but he conceded that playing with such aggression "is a lot tougher than people may think." His four assists reflects the Lakers' offense mostly centering on Bryant, Bynum and Gasol, a trio that combined for 78 points.
While the Lakers want Sessions to attack the basket more, they also want him to run the offense at a slower pace. The Nuggets feature a perimeter-oriented lineup that thrives on the open floor. Denver scored 30 fast-break points partly because the Lakers played at a fast pace that led to rushed shots. That explains why Bryant on several possessions threw out his hands signaling a stop sign as Sessions directed the offense.
"He just has to read the flow of the game," Bryant said. "It's kind of an underlying energy that the game carries. You have to be able to understand that tempo."
Sessions says he understood that tempo in the fourth quarter. He attacked the basket in half-court sets. He then ran in the open floor after Bryant chased down and stopped Al Harrington on the defensive end two separate times.
After playing 23 games with the Lakers since being acquired in a trade March 15 from Cleveland, Sessions still views providing the proper balance remains an ongoing development. But in Game 2, it appeared he only needed a frustrating foul call to channel his aggressiveness properly.
"We have guys out there that can light it up with Kobe, Bynum, and Pau. In the meantime, I'm still trying to get my shot," Sessions said. "Those guys have been here for a while. They know when the game is getting out of control so I respect them with that. I just listen to them and try to control the tempo as much as I can."