Kenyon Martin remained adamant, even after the Lakers defeated his Denver Nuggets convincingly in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at his home arena.
Martin wasn’t bitter, just strong in his belief, which showed how far the Nuggets still have to go.
The Lakers beat the Nuggets, 119-92, Friday night at the Pepsi Center to win the best-of-seven series 4-2 and to advance to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year.
How good are the Lakers?
“I think we’re better than them, actually, to be honest,” said Martin, still stubborn. “But we didn’t prove that. That’s obvious, cause they’re moving on and we’re not. But I think we have a better team than they do.
“Some people are going to say maybe the experience of them getting to the Finals last year was a deciding factor. But I’m proud of these guys in this locker room. And I think as a whole, our team is better than their team.”
The Nuggets didn’t prove that when they had the opportunity.
Instead, the Lakers will play either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. Orlando has a 3-2 lead over Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals and can close out the series with a victory tonight at home.
The Lakers showed their championship mettle, digging down even though Kobe Bryant admitted his team was tired after just the third game in the series.
They played 13 games in 26 games and had enough to eliminate the Nuggets.
“They found the energy, they found the motivation to come in here and close the game, close the series out on our home court,” Carmelo Anthony said. “They couldn’t play any better than what they did tonight. They got production from almost everybody.”
The Nuggets found out after the game that Nene fractured his left forearm.
During the game, Anthony was just six for 17. He scored 25 points on the day he turned 25.
“This is a terrible birthday present,” Anthony said.
The Lakers will play for the championship for the 30th time. They are seeking their 15th title a year after the Boston Celtics beat L.A. in the NBA Finals.
“I think they have a great shot, especially if they keep playing the way that they play,” J.R. Smith said. “It’s going to be interesting. I can’t wait to see who they play against.”
The Lakers will have the home-court advantage in the Finals over the Magic, which won both regular-season games from L.A.
The Cavaliers will have the home-court advantage in the Finals over the Lakers, who won both games over Cleveland during the regular season.
“The Lakers are a hell of a team. They should be able to hold their own in the Finals, regardless of who they play,” Dahntay Jones said.