Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Kurt —  April 3, 2007

Godspeed Cory Karl. The Nuggets will be without George Karl tonight as he is with his son, who is having throat cancer surgery. My best wishes to the Karl family.

Ballhype.com. I had a whole post planned on this new site, which computer problems at home have cost me (for now at least). While I’m researching new laptops, you should check out the site that is sort of Digg for the sports world, bringing together sports blog stories in an interactive way. It’s done by the people at one of my daily reads, lowpost.net, so there is quality there.

And, there is already a Forum Blue & Gold group you can join.

Love him. Hate him. It’s a few days old, but if you missed it Nate Jones does a great post on how Kobe has become thee most polarizing figure in sports. Even here in LA there are a lot of people who can’t stand him.

I’m tired of Florida winning NCAA titles. It seems they win everything lattely. Well, I guess the Frozen Four is safe.

Remember Linas Kleiza? Laker fans should, when the Lakers and Nuggets played last month this guy dropped 26 points on them on 10 of 13 shooting, 5 of 6 from downtown. It’s not just against the Lakers, he seems to be the guy benefiting from the Carmello/AI pairing — in his last 10 games he is averaging 13 points and is shooting 46% from three.

It wasn’t just Kleiza. That last meeting of these two was one of the worst Laker defensive performances of the season. And that’s saying something. The nuggets shot more than 60% (eFG%) for the game last time and 69% in the decisive third quarter.

Making up for the defense. The Laker offense looked good in the first quarter in that last meeting, it was the first game that both Luke and Lamar were back and for a little while the triangle looked sharp. Then it all fell apart. Kobe had a team high 25 shooting 47.4%, which is below his average. The problem was the rest of the team shot 39% for the game.

Key for the Lakers. Move the ball. The Nuggets are just 6 and 19 this season against the 10 teams in the NBA that average thee most assists per game. If the Lakers share the ball and move without it, like they did against Sacramento. they will get good looks and easy buckets.

However, go back to what Gatinho brilliantly called the “constant Kobe heat check” offense and you play into the Nuggets hands.

Then there is the defense — it was horrible in the last meeting between these two, but has been better the last couple games. The Lakers need to come out focused on the defensive end. For 48 minutes this time around.

The Lakers are the sixth seed right now, playing the seventh seed tonight and the eighth seed tomorrow. Good chances to continue building toward the playoffs — but two chances for this up and down team to take a step back again. I really have no idea which Laker team will show up anymore, so I choose to be optomistic.

Kurt

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17 responses to Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. I didn’t get a chance to comment on the post you wrote about the Lakers plan for the future, but I wanted to add my two cents. The Lakers, in my opinion, are quite content to have a roster similar to the one they have sported this year: financially safe, while still offering the fans Kobe and all he brings to the table. As long as Staples stays packed, the Lakers remain popular world-wide and the they can maintaint the appearance of attempting to win, then I feel that they are content to dwell in the cellar of mediocrity. As far as a plan for the future, there is none, and if Jim Buss is holding his breath for an all-star to fall into his lap, then I hope he has his squba gear.

  2. It is interesting how fans seem to equate a team getting better with more trades (kwame a.). The real key is very few key trades and developing your role players in-house. This is the way most championship teams have been built. I am not ready to give up on Laker management just yet.

    Regarding the Lakers last game against Denver; it was Lamar’s and Luke’s 1st game back and they both were thrashed after the 1st quarter. That might account for some of the problems later. With healthy – and conditioned – Lamar and Luke I think the Lakers can keep the ball moving throughout the game. Here’s hoping Kwame can stop up the middle – my key to the game.

  3. I wasn’t necessarilly advocating trades for the sake of trades. I was only referencing the point made by Jim Buss (who seems to make the most important decisions these days in Lakerland) that the Lakers, prior to the onslaught of injuries thought that the team was a contender. This is what they are selling Laker fans, oh we’re young, oh we’re hurt, oh they don’t get the offense yet. We could let this team ‘gel’ for 10 years, they will never win squat with the roster as it is now. The only way with the new CBA to improve teams is through the draft and trades. The days of free agent signings is gone, so yes, at some point, if the team is serious about winning they will trade.

    Craig- do you honestly believe that if the Lakers tand pat and develop their role players they will be a contender. I don’t , I feel they have to make trades, that doesn’t mean “more trades” for the sake of trading, it means improvements to the roster, period. Now that may be via trade, it’s probably the only way they do improve. Hoping Walton and Odom and Brown and Cook and VladRad and Smuah and Farmar and Bynum and MO and Sasaha all improve at the right time is not being patient, it is being miopic. Laker managment, and I use the term loosley, needs to make smart b-ball decisions. My opinion is that they make their decisions based on pacifiying the fans through the phony notion of “time” and the side-show of Kobe.

  4. chris henderson April 3, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    this week is full of “heart check” games, of course tonight against the Nuggets will be playoff intensity, then against the Clippers, Sonics and Suns…
    this is the week that is fellas, do or die, gotta match the intensity or wait til next year.
    personally I’m hoping we continue to play like we did against the Queens, and even aginst the Rockets, the Lakes played hard in that loss. gotta keep pushing and trying to gel as the end of the regular season comes and we look to the post season.
    they can’t revert to Kobe putting up 50, sure he has to be a threat, one demanding double teams, but the rest of the team has to step up, and keep the asist totals up there, and of course, play some D!

  5. Mannie Jenkins April 3, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    We have a weird schedule remaining. 2 games each against the nuggets, sonics, suns and clippers, and one against Sacto (which we will have played twice this month). Leaves open a lot of room for further seed movement. And if enough of that happens to match us against the Suns, we get 2 practice rounds with them…

  6. We owe the Nuggets a good spanking. They embarrassed us last time we played them on national tv. We need to put them back in their place tonight.

    Other than that Grizzlies game, we’ve been playing well over the last 8 games. We had the 5 in a row, and then the Rockets game where we played well, and the Kings blowout. So you throw out that Grizzlies game and we’ve been playing good ball. If we continue to improve over these next two weeks, then watch out San Antonio.

    Any Laker fan who has been following the team through our championship years knows that we have nothing to fear against the Spurs. Don’t get me wrong, they are a great team, what I mean is that we know we can beat them. The year that we had Malone and Payton, the Spurs were the best team in the league through the regular season and then took a 2-0 lead on us in the playoffs. We responded by winning 4 in a row over a very dominant team. Anything can happen

  7. And Skigi– it also shows that even well built machines
    may have a weakness that can bring them down,
    if the opposing team knows how to fly their little X-wing
    into that port JUST RIGHT.

    It’s why we love underdog stories,
    but it’s also true that underdogs have to work to achieve,
    so in a best-of series one can’t mail it in.

    As i had mentioned before, many of the Laker players
    have experienced a challenge of confidence,
    which is pretty much a rite of passage for all players
    as they transition from high school or college days
    ( or in Europe ) when they first made names
    for themselves.

    What they do to meet that challenge in the pro ranks
    is the variable– be content and cash the check
    as Amaechi admits to have done, or break though?

    Luke Walton has improved, partly because his heritage
    and college coaching gave him a foundation to draw from.

    Lamar has some through dues paying,
    but he hasn’t had the kind of experience
    that makes him go for that extra in every game.
    I think Kobe has set an example for him.

    Smush too, to an extent has raised his “O” game lately,
    and BCook last year had sharpened up his physique
    and improved his play, but he’s let a lot of that go
    this season and fallen back on being “Horry Jr.”

    I worry too that Buss the Younger will also be content–
    to presume that fielding a team that is “competitive”
    is good enough for Laker fans, and he pockets the profit,
    exploiting the Laker legacy without building on it.

    He wouldn’t be the only sports exec to do it;
    these days, the likes of Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones
    and Steinbrenner seem preferable to say,
    Knicks or Celtics ownership– but he must not
    take Laker fans for granted.

    He ought to follow in the footsteps of his father
    as he was back in the day–
    I don’t advise tossing buckets of money
    around either, or trading for trading’s sake,
    but rather gathering personnel who know
    how to scout for that work ethic and that edge
    and coaches that will help the player cultivate it
    when they don’t have the internal motivation
    of the type of players whose names hang above the court.

    It’s one thing to say one admires
    or wants to be like so-and-so,
    but for players and owners alike,
    just being a part of the NBA means
    the work’s just begun.

    - 5 -

  8. Did Farmar play in the DLeague today? How did he do?

  9. Could we not buy a bucket in the last few minutes?

  10. chris henderson April 4, 2007 at 12:36 am

    aaaarrrrgggghhh!!! another hard fought… loss…
    anyone else notice that Andrew is standing around just ‘watching’ on Offense? no hustle looking for someone to block out or find a crease for a rebound, very lackadaisical if you ask me. things turned around when Ronnie came in for him.
    like -5- says…it’s about work ethic…heart
    guys like Rambis, AC Green, even Madsen, doing the things like diving for a loose ball…
    D fish comes to mind as well…

  11. 8. Yes, he had 20 points and 8 assists. He had 18 points on Sunday but shot just 5 for 16.

  12. As for Bynum, he plays like a lot of 19-year-olds — he’s very active with the ball and likes to come from the weak side for the dramatic block. But the little things, like boxing out, are inconsistent.

  13. Things were fine with Farmar and Turiaf providing relief, defense, and energy. . . . . .

    Then they brought in the Smusher to close out the game.

    Smushaphobes turned off their TV sets.

    The curse of the Smusher in the last 3 minutes strikes again. and again. and again. and . . . . . .

  14. the lakers were ahead by 6, 86-80 when Bynum played most of the third quarter. Immediatley when he went out and Turiaf came in the score became 92-88 and we never truly recovered. Bynum defintley did not have a great game, but his impact in the 3rd was clear. Also, those two missed ft’s and failed possession ensuing from the flagrant was a turning point. however what was most disconcerting was our execution the last 5 mins.

    Kurt- Why don’t we post Odom up and run the offense through him. I don’t understand why we don’t utilize this weapon?

  15. Also, question for anyone. Do we have a player on this team that we can count on to get a rebound. First New Orleans, now Denver, we gave up some key O boards to the opposition last nite, that is inexcusable. No box-outs by our Centers (Camby had 20 boards!) and Lamard gave up some key put-backs himself. We do all the things a team who gets knocked out 4-1 in the first round does.

  16. Apparently a hurt shoulder is what it takes to finally bring out the real Odom.

  17. Man, Smush really is a cancer. Two key possessions and the man who has shot horrendously for the night decides to try his own “heat check.”

    Ridiclous. Tex, Phil AND Kobe must all be high for having “respect” for Smush.