The 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals was one of the most exciting playoff series in recent memory and featured many more than five highlights. This was a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. The series also pitted two of the top scorers in the league against each other: Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers were favored to win the series, but the Nuggets gave them a physical battle throughout all six games, eventually losing in six. Each game usually featured a scoring duel between Carmelo and Kobe. However, Carmelo did not make the top five highlights of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals because he did not have one standout moment, although he performed like a superstar throughout. Now, here are the top five highlights of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals.
- Kobe being Kobe. The first two games of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals had been decided by a combined 5 points. Coming in to game 3, the series was tied at 1 and Kobe Bryant knew that he had to take over in order to help the Lakers take control of the series. Kobe scored 41 points in Game 3, using his entire repertoire of drives, mid-range jumpers and three pointers. One of the major highlights from this highlight includes a monster alley-oop that Kobe received from Luke Walton in the 3rd quarter. However, what makes Kobe's performance in Game 3 number one, is the clutch three pointer he made with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers the lead for good.
- Dahntay Dunks. Dahntay Jones was a key part of the 2008-2009 Denver Nuggets for his defense. However, in Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals, Dahntay delivered on offense. After a Los Angeles miss, Chauncey Billups tipped the loose ball to Carmelo Anthony who was streaking down the court, Carmelo quickly hit Dahntay Jones, who was streaking down the court as well, with a pass in stride. Dahntay took the ball up, cradled it and threw down a monster dunk that drew the Denver crowd to their feet. The Nuggets went on to win the game and tie the series.
Birdman Blocks. Chris "The Birdman" Anderson is Denver's big defensive stopper. The Nuggets bring the Birdman off the bench for energy and his ability to block shots. In Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals, the Birdman showed why he is one of the best shot blockers in the lead. Lamar Odom was driving the ball into the paint for the Lakers in the first half. Odom was looking to throw down a big dunk to rile the Los Angeles fans. As Odom brought his hand down to finish the dunk, the Birdman got his own hand around the other side of the ball, forcing Odom's hand and the ball to go sideways and out of the basket. The Birdman would not allow Odom to dunk the ball and get the momentum going for the Lakers. Unfortunately for Birdman and Denver, the Lakers ultimately won another close game in Game 5.
- Ariza Gets Respect. In Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals, Lakers key role player Trevor Ariza showed his athletic prowess when he rose up and extended over Dahntay Jones, who was looking to draw the foul, controlled his body, and threw down a forceful dunk without committing the offensive foul. As much as that gave the Lakers energy, the Nuggets went on to win Game 2.
- Mr. Big Shot Once More. The Lakers won Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals behind the clutch play and free throws of Kobe Bryant. However, Chauncey Billups almost singlehandedly set the Nuggets up for the win when he drilled a fadeaway three pointer from the corner with 6.4 seconds remaining in the game. That shot cut the lead to 103-102, but the Nuggets could not pull out the victory.
Those are the top five highlights of the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, one of the more competitive playoff series in recent memory.