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NBA Playoffs: Lakers shut down Carmelo

Associated Press
DENVER ó After Game 2, Carmelo Anthony looked like he was taking his game to the superstar level.
After Game 3, he looked like, well, that guy who wasn’t quite as good as Kobe or LeBron.
‘Melo finished with 21 points Saturday night ó seven below his playoff average ó and only seven of those came over the last three quarters of Denver’s 103-97 loss to Los Angeles in the Western Conference finals.
“Same shots,” Anthony said. “It was just missing.”
While his shots wouldn’t fall, Kobe Bryant’s did. He scored 41 to help the Lakers take a 2-1 lead in the series. LeBron James? Yes, we’ve all see his Shot ó Friday night’s game winner for Cleveland ó a few hundred times by now.
Anthony seemed to be heading into that rare stratosphere after scoring 34 and 39 points in Denver’s split at the Staples Center. He had broken 30 in five straight playoff games, the last two of which led many to believe that a) the Lakers didn’t have anyone who could stop him and b) he might single-handedly ruin the Kobe-LeBron dream matchup in the finals.
The Nuggets may still ruin that matchup, but it’s more of an uphill climb now, and Saturday’s game showed how hard Anthony will have to work to knock out Bryant.
“I don’t think you can compare players,” Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. “It’s not fair. It’s not like they’re out there playing one-on-one. Carmelo Anthony is one of the best scoring forwards, if not the best scoring forward, in the game today.”
But not Saturday night.
Give a big dose of the credit to Trevor Ariza, the Lakers’ lanky forward, who draped himself all over Denver’s star for most of the last three quarters.
Give some more to the foul trouble Anthony found himself in from the second quarter on.
And give the Lakers credit for keeping the faith ó for believing there really might be a solution for Anthony, whether it’s them doing the stopping or Anthony simply stopping himself.
“I don’t really think they did anything different tonight,” he said. “But I missed some easy shots. Open shots. Some of them were tough. Some of them weren’t.”

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