The Lakers have taken a dominant 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets into an improbable Game 7. And Laker fans should have a reason to worry.
In the Kobe Era of Laker-dom, games where the Lakers are up against elimination hasn't been spotless. Sure, we all remember the 2010 NBA Finals where the Lakers were down 3-2 to the Celtics and pulled out a championship ... which included an epic, albeit sloppy, Game 7 win.
But it hasn't been all like that. Let's look in the past:
2011: MAVERICKS 122-LAKERS 86: The Lakers looked horrible against the Mavericks in this series and the two-time defending champs were spanked out of the gym and swept out of the series with this 36 point embarrassment.
2010: LAKERS 89-CELTICS 67; LAKERS 83-CELTICS 79: The series I mentioned before. The Lakers followed up five close games with this blowout and set up a much sought after Lakers-Celtics Game 7. That game wasn't played very well and Kobe Bryant was awful for much of it. But LA made a huge 2nd half comeback to bring home another ring.
2009: LAKERS 89-ROCKETS 70: This is the game that many Laker fans will point to as a gauge for Saturday's Game 7 with the Nuggets. In the second round of the 2009 playoffs, the Lakers let the outmanned Rockets and Ron Artest hang around too long and force a Game 7. LA woke up (Pau Gasol had 21 pts and 18 rbs) to finish off Houston and go on to a title.
2008: CELTICS 131-LAKERS 92: Until the Lakers won those back-to-back titles, this game was pointed to as the low point of the Kobe Era. Losing by 39 points in an elimination game? Against the hated Celtics? Yup.
2007: SUNS 119-LAKERS 110: This was the pre-Gasol time for the Lakers. The Suns were the much better team and the Lakers made a galliant effort but couldn't extend the series after losing at home in Game 4.
2006: SUNS 121-LAKERS 90: This game. THIS GAME. Remember that the Lakers actually led this series 3-1 after a huge OT win in Game 4. But Phoenix blew them out in Game 5 and won in LA in Game 6. A huge Game 7 and the Lakers were horrible. This was the "Kobe Quit" game.
2005: Missed playoffs
2004: PISTONS 100-LAKERS 87: This entire series was one big choke job. Los Angeles with their four Hall Of Famers (Shaq, Kobe, Malone and Payton) cruised to the Finals to face the underdog Pistons. But Detroit out-everythinged Los Angeles and the put a stamp on the end of the Shaq-Kobe dynasty.
2003: SPURS 100-SPURS 82: This is known as the "Crying Game". The Lakers couldn't continue their three-peat after this dud against the top seeded Spurs. Don't get fooled: the Lakers may have been "just" a No. 5 seed but they pretty much laid down all season before a furious run in the last two months of the season. In the fourth quarter of this spanking, the Lakers were seen weeping on the bench.
2002: LAKERS 106-KINGS 100, LAKERS 112-KINGS 106: Ahhhh yes. This series. To this Laker fan, this is the most interesting postseason series during the Kobe Era. Remember how much these two hated each other and the fact they were meeting in the Western Conference Finals was awesome (remember, too, that the Kings had the home court advantage). Remember Game 4 when Robert Horry hit The Shot? Remember Game 5 when the Kings made a huge comeback to squeak out a win on Bibby's shot? The Lakers were up against the wall for Games 6 and 7. Game 6 is still hugely controversial as the Lakers did get a ton of calls in the 4th quarter. Game 7 was tense and was back-and-forth. But the been-there-done-that Lakers weren't scared in the final frame while all the Kings not named Mike Bibby were frightened and choked. No one wanted to shoot and if they did, it was an ugly shot.
2001: Never faced elimination as they went 15-1 to win to repeat.
2000: LAKERS 113-KINGS 86, LAKERS 89-BLAZERS 84: Two separate games and two separate situations. The Kings were upstarts and somehow forced a decisive Game 5 in the first round. The Lakers smacked them away. The game against Portland was Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and is "the game" that defines the beginning of the Shaq-Kobe dynasty. The Lakers were down 15 points in the 4th quarter before an epic comeback to win the game and then go on to the title.
1999: SPURS 118-LAKERS 107: The final game at the Great Western Forum was a San Antonio second round sweep.
1998: JAZZ 96-LAKERS 92: More about Shaq than Kobe at this time, this was written up as yet another Shaquille O'Neal sweep.
1997: JAZZ 98-LAKERS 93: The "Kobe airballs" game. The first postseason the Lakers had with both Kobe and Shaq.
That makes it 7-9 ... and losing 6 of the last 9.