Game Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Kurt —  November 29, 2007 — 64 Comments

Records: Lakers 8-6; Nuggets 9-6
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.0 (8th); Nuggets 106.6 (17th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers; 105.4 (13th); Nuggets 100.1 (2nd)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf (please, no more Vlad), Andrew Bynum
Nuggets: Allen Iverson, Yakhouba Diawara, Linas Kleiza, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby

UPDATE: Phil Jackson has signed a two-year extension to coach the Lakers, likely at $11 or $12 million a year. I think this is good, providing some continuity and stability — plus he is a damn good coach. He’s gotten a lot out of this roster so far, and now things are starting to look brighter.

Thanks to Gatinho for the heads up.

Lakers Notes: In case you didn’t see it, Coby Karl was sent down to the D-Fenders of the D-League so he can get some run. The odds of George Karl attending the D-Fenders game this afternoon just increased dramatically.

The Lakers got a win against the Sonics Tuesday night but no style points were awarded. Kobe shot well early (hitting five of his first six) to keep the Lakers in it, then in the third quarter a few spurts — primarily with the starters on the floor but with Walton and Mihm in as well — put the game away.

Sometimes we can over think a win — and I don’t want to think too much about that game — so let’s just mention a couple things . First, Ronny Turiaf had a bounce back in his step, was a force on the defensive end and, in my mind, needs to be back in the starting lineup. Also, Lamar Odom shot 50% (eFG%) for the game, but only because of the wide-open meaningless lay-up he got as the game expired. He still looks lost and uncomfortable, and he needs to right that ship because the next three games the Lakers are going to need him.

The Nuggets Coming In: Coming into the year, I lumped the Lakers and Nuggets together in the West, saying that they would go as far as their defenses would take them. The Lakers defense has been average (a big improvement over last year) but the Nuggets have been a powerhouse — they are second in the league in defensive ratings.

I watched the Nuggets against the Clippers and they double on the post very quickly and have guys who can defend the paint — Marcus Camby as a starter and Eduardo Najera off the bench (he gave Kaman problems, and Kaman is playing well). (They would be even better with Nene and Kenyon Martin, but neither is expected to play tonight.) On the perimeter the Nuggets gamble a lot and create the most turnovers in the league (and that gets them easy buckets going the other way).

In offense, it’s all about Anthony and Iverson — they average 49 points a game between them. What Denver does is spread the floor out and try to isolate those guys (and other shooters like Linas Kleiza), there are not a lot of set plays. To defend them you have to keep balance on the floor and not collapse on the ball. And don’t let the role players get hot.

The Nuggets have lost three of their last four, and in all four games have shot less than 40%. The Clippers defended them pretty well (actually very well considering the injuries and roster they have left) but Denver missed some shots they should hit. Let us hope the cold streak continues.

Keys To The Game: This should be an entertaining barn burner — the Nuggets play at the fastest pace in the league (nearly 100 possessions a game) and the Lakers are not far back at sixth. I’d say bet the over but at 218 I might balk, still that number is in jeopardy.

The Lakers need to take care of the ball tonight — the Nuggets lead the league in turnovers and blocked shots, and they use that to fuel their pace. The Lakers need to slow it down a little and play under control.

The Nuggets offense is predicated on slashing and driving — Iverson is maybe the best at that in the league, Melo can do that or pull up and shoot from anywhere. They also set a lot of screens in transition or early in the shot clock, the Lakers need to defend that well tonight.

This is going to be a tough night for Bynum — Camby is a good defender and he may pick up fouls on a driving Iverson — but the Lakers should get good offensive nights from Kobe and likely Odom (especially if Melo is on him). They need to hit the midrange and three shots because points in the paint will be harder to come by.

Also, the Lakers and the Nuggets are both in the top six in the Association at getting to the free throw line. If one team can keep the other off the stripe it will be a huge advantage.

Tonight’s Game: Where Sir Charles Happens: This should be an entertaining game. If Odom really shows up and plays like he can, I see a Lakers win. If he remains off his game, well, then it will be a tough road for LA.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific) and it is TNT for all of us (no local coverage). Since the Lakers are the back end of the double header, I would think 7:45 is more like the actual start time. We need to make sure Sir Charles has time to talk.



64 responses to Game Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1.’s David Thorpe today on True Hoop talking about the Nuggets:

  2. This is not the game to move LO to the 2nd unit so perhaps we can hold off on that until after the game. However, I do plead with Phil to start Rony – please! please! please! Phil

    Since Camby is not a real scoring threat, how about starting Mihm and let Bynum see all the driving and fouls before he has to get into the game. Yeah! I know Chris will let some drivers through, but that is one reason I want to start Rony.

  3. Mike in the Mountain West November 29, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    “Jackson said the team’s medical staff is shooting for Brown to return to the floor toward the latter part of next week.”

  4. Off topic : Miami’s Parker is in trouble
    Miami Heat Head Coach Pat Riley released a statement on Thursday concerning a reported incident involving guard Smush Parker.

    “We are currently investigating the reported incident. Until we have concluded it, Smush will not be with the team. He has not been suspended and is currently on our inactive list. This is a legal matter, and we will have no further comment until the legal process runs its course.”

    The Miami Herald reported on Wednesday that a woman from Miami has accused Parker of twisting her arm during an altercation about a valet parking fee and is seeking criminal charges.

    Twisiting arm about valet parking Fee.. 🙂

  5. 5 – That’s almost as bad as throwing someone’s birthday cake. What does it say about me as a person that I am so glad that Smush is now the heat’s headache? Some of you wished him luck on his way out; not me. Now all I want is for Brian Cook to get caught hijacking cars and I’ll throw a little party.

  6. you would think that contract he signed was enough for the fee. maybe they did something to the smushcalade.

    anyways back to the game. Id really like to see what Bynum Can do against Camby(on offense) a double double against camby would be great =D. I would just like for him to stay out of foul trouble against the slashing ai/melo (and they are pretty quick)

    Melo is said to have the fastest first step. so -.-

  7. MS,
    Brian Cook was a really good guy – just no ambition or drive. Wishing him well is not an issue with most of us.

  8. 7-Melo’s first step against Lamar makes me nervous, Im hopin Lamar backs up what he told Simers today

  9. I agree to Craig’s statements regarding Cook. While he was a one trick pony, the complete opposite of Ronny in terms of energy and effort, Cook was actually a good guy. He was no Smush in terms of attitude and conceit.

    Could you imagine that Smush did this for $12? wtf?! he gets paid 5M for 2yrs and he does a misdemeanor over 12 bucks? Somethin’s going on in Miami… can we call it the Shaq curse?

    First Antoine Walker and James Posey (who were valuable pieces in their championship) were given the door. Then they mistakenly “saved” money by letting Kapono go. Now they sign Smush, experiment on 35 yr old Penny, get RISKY DAVIS, and that’s how the cookie crumbles. I’m surprised they are not trading for Marbury at this point!

    LA is getting some payback on the Shaq trade and we’re not even doing anything.

  10. Miami is hamstrung by Shaq’s bloated contract, they need to start rebuilding and can’t. More than LeBron, I think at the end of his three year deal Wade may be the guy looking at his options on the market.

  11. Miami is actually below the projected cap for next year. However, they will be sporting 6 players on the payroll and needing to sign 6 more as per league rules.

    In terms of assessing that lineup, aren’t they better off trading White Chocolate for a top flight PG like Andre Miller? Risky Davis will be a long-shot to re-sign although, being the 6th man does not really bother him of he still gets the shots. The amount will be the one Riley will be conscious of.

    Alonzo Mourning will probably wish he had retired at the end of last season and in most probability won’t be playing for Miami next year anymore. Penny will likely seek contenders like Eddie Jones has, and the rest of no ones are really not that important.

    I like where we are now guys… even with the Kobe saga. Miami would have been better keeping that 08 1st, now they’re doomed.

  12. honestly, why has Lamar never developed a consistent 15-17ft shot? also, his d against Anthony is just about what i expected. dude is becoming 12 million dollars of dead weight

  13. Why did we trade for Ariza’s D if we won’t use him to guard Melo? The guy has been with the team for over a week now. It’s time.

  14. bynum made some amazing post moves against the DPOY, encouraging signs.

  15. lakers are running the o through kobe in the post, its creating wide open shots

  16. turiaf getting the backup C minutes tonite.

  17. Yep 18, the pace of this game is not exactly tailor-made for Chris Mihm. Good to see the staff try something different in the 3rd quarter. Luke and Lamar are obviously more comfortable with this lineup.

  18. Clutch play by Sasha there to get Melo out of the game…reached out with his throat and grabbed Melo’s hand. Now with Luke and Lamar playing better, all we need to see is Vlad hit a few threes.

  19. The corner 3pter’s are styming denver’s fast break.

  20. Um, is it just the crack making me hallucinate or was Sasha Vujacic just the go-to interview for a national televised game?

  21. 22. It’s the crack, it has to be. It’s not practice, and Sasha was lighting it up. Looking for signs of hell freezing over or flying bacon.

  22. I hate this team. Think they can win it on reputation alone. Never learned how to play the fundamentals….i wish i was born in salt lake city. and that’s a hateful statement……..

  23. I think the most important thing to glean from tonight’s game is this: people went home with a coupon for two free tacos from Jack ‘N the Box.

    Oh and Sasha can indeed shoot well in a game.

  24. We are so soft at times….If the guys aren’t thinking they’re making SportsCenter highlights, they just give it up. Plus, we have a coach who is known for not taking advantage of players in their prime. There are so many things wrong. I wish Denver teams would stop being mediocre. At least when we were bad we could get draft picks. We haven’t gotten any draft picks in two years, and we never made any good ones before that. There is still a Kiki hangover I guess, but it was a bad decision to go into the luxury tax and put all our chips in on AI when we have a coach like Karl. One of the two, pick. But not both. Denver is a confused city when it comes to basketball.

  25. Lamar still looked confused tonite. At 28 yrs of age he is still thinking too much on the court and not just reacting. That is not a good sign. I am beginning to agree with all those proposing he take over the 2nd team and let Walton start the 1st unit. He could be the 1st person off the bench. Maybe he will catch some of the 2nd unit’s enthusiasm and relax.

  26. the other Stephen November 30, 2007 at 1:20 am

    what HO! the white mamba unleashes its dynamic fury from the butt-end of the bench!

  27. Yeah I’m beginning to lose faith in Lamar. It seems like we’d have been better off with Caron.

  28. Filed under Things I Never Thought I’d Hear:
    MVP chants for Sasha Vujacic at Staples.

  29. The story of the season: Kobe and all the rest of the Lakers besides Lamar. There is great chemistry. The criticism that Kobe can’t make his teamates better. No, he just can’t make Lamar better, becuase there is no making Lamar better. Dribble or shoot a wild 3, that’s Lamar. He doesn’t know how to move without the basketball. It’s ridiculous. Kobe has been known dribble a lot himself. The difference here is that Kobe is a basketball player, meaning he is just as good without the basketball as he is with it. I wish the same could be said for Lamar. Great job, Lakers. Trade Lamar, and you are contenders.

  30. Paul,
    You can’t trade Lamar! His salary is too high and it has 2yrs to run. A year from now you may start hollering that, but not now. He can be productive and I already suggested a solution.

  31. Check Crit’s stat line. 7 pts, 3-3 ft, 3 reb, 1 ast – 5 MINUTES! That is efficient.

  32. I agree with Craig’s suggestion, in fact, I think they have better chemistry with Luke on the starting five.

    The immediate solution would be to solve Lamar. But I may have an easier way finding trade partners for that rather than making him improve on his own. It seems all his greatness stopped after the Detroit game.

    But if you all noticed, this is Odom’s trademark – inconsistency. Lets all accept the fact that he is NOT a 2nd option at all. Potential that does not result to actual production is useless.

    Golden State… Phoenix… Dallas… Chicago… He will thrive on a team loaded with scorers. We need a legit 2nd option, not an expensive facilitator.

  33. i love the fact that bynum is consistently putting up double-doubles…

    now only if LO could start playing some REAL ball, we might have enough to convince kobe to retrieve his trade request.

  34. Lamar is inconsistent, but he is not as bad as some of you are making out. He looks more lost this year than ever before. I don’t know if he is still not sure about his shoulder, or if he is lost because he is playing a different position in the triangle. Maybe a combination of the two. He looked a lot more comfortable playing the 4 to start the 3rd quarter with Walton out their.

  35. From a basketball point of view, Lamar makes most sense as an “energy guy” at the 3 and 4–much like Turiaff last year. If he is up for a game, he could earn extended minutes. If not, it may be spot appearances.

    From a business point of view, Lamar needs to start as a valued star–still recovering a bit from his surgery. Unfortunately, chucking up 9 clunkers in a row with a weak defensive stint doesn’t particularly enhance his credentials as a starter.

    Once Kwame comes back and Trevor gets his minutes, Lamar could become the #3 small forward and the #2 or #3 power forward–if we look from a basketball point of view.

  36. We have to look at Lamar from a basketball point-of-view, and no other. It is time we stop talking about his talent and we stop talking about his salary and we stop talking about his psyche. Where does Lamar fit on this team? Hey, Kurt, drrayeye’s comment could be the start of another thread???

  37. It was great to see Luke get some positive momentum in the second half. I was ready to feed him to the sharks after his first half performance. Is he really so sensitive that starting/not starting dramtically affects his play or is it more that his skills mesh with the starters? Either way, that is a vintage Luke stat line and we need that every night.

    I like Lamar, but this really my be a situation where he could thrive in a different system and even be an All-Star (Phoenix comes to mind), but he doesn’t seem to flow with Kobe or the triangle. Although I hope it doesn’t become public, I hope he is being shopped around the league (cough…..Artest……cough).

    I can’t say enough positive things about Farmar and Fisher (even Crit for that matter!). Those guys aren’t the best defenders in the world but they really bring it every night with intensity and focus and that is invaluable to this team.

  38. Craig W. (and others) I think Lamar is a good topic, but as there is a game tonight he is going to be the focus of the Lakers note part of the preview. I don’t want to start a good topic like that then bump it down with a preview a couple hours later.

  39. I really believe the following team could be a legit contender, particulary next season if we made the trade this year:

    Artest/Trevor/Vlad Rad
    Walton/Turiaf/Vlad Rad (pt would depend on matchups)
    Bynum/Brown/Mihm (pt would depend on matchups)

    Assuming all are healthy.

  40. Did you notice something? In the first quarter and the starting minutes of the 2nd, the Lakers looked flat. They just watched Denver get wide open looks and drive the baseline. In the end of the 2nd and the latter half of the game, the Lakers hustled.

    They closed out on the open man, which resulted in misses. They closed out passing lanes resulting in turnovers. They took excellent care of the ball too!

    Give PJ some credit on this one, he finally learned how to make adjustments!

  41. Like I’ve been saying, Lamar is…well, Lamar.

    I wanted to comment on our consistent PG play, something that makes my heart warm. I wasn’t thrilled about D-Fish, but he has been great. The knowledge of the tri is real, his leadership is real, and he can shoot. Farmar has embraced his role and is thriving, while getting better everytime out. When Kwame comes back we will have the Center rotation set with him and Bynum and the SG rotation of Kobe and Sasha (or Critt) is gonna be alright too. We need to figure out the forward combos and I think the Luke and Rony may be the best way to go in the starting lineup, depending on the matchup of course.

  42. If anything I’ve noticed about Sasha, he’s been great at keeping the lead in garbage time.

    I’m not ready to give up on Lamar. For one major reason. The team hasn’t exactly stressed that he should be a scorer in the past. When everyone was complaining about LO’s lack of points, PJ was always saying that his offensive production was just fine with him.

    I’m very glad that’s changed.

    Like Vlade, they’re both just overthinking way too much at the moment. But still, thank GOD Rodmanavic was finally yanked from the starting lineup.

  43. sasha gets 21 points, the reason we won if you ask me, he kept the pressure on them last night, constantly killing any hopes of a comeback, he got in a zone, which was the way to beat the zone defense of the nuggets. come on fellas, let’s give sasha his due…where’s the sasha love??

  44. I thought sasha was great, but to be honest, i don’t think jacking up the first open shot against a zone is always the best thing. Sasha is an interesting situation this season, he is gonna be a free agent, and you can tell, he’s trying to score every time he gets the ball, it worked last night.

  45. Sasha earned his backup minutes last night. Now for the 10pts/night consistently and he will leave Crit on the pine for this year.

    Crit looked awfully good in his short minutes. Of course they were garbage time against the 8-9-10-11-12 players on the team, but you can see where Phil’s previous comments come from.

    Vlade is so good on the 2nd team I feel Phil should always start Turiaf.

  46. Lamar Odom –
    New position plus very little practice time = Lack of confidence and now overly agressive

    3rd quarter – LO moves to old familiar 4 and LO excells at both ends of floor

    Lesson learned? LO at 3 might be premature experiment. Although LO said its his natural position, he’s not comfortable at the 3 in the triangle. Lakers chemistry when LO plays the 3 ain’t there yet.

    Solution might be to play Luke at the 3 until LO gets his confidence back. That 3rd quarter group of Bynum, LO, Luke, Kobe, and Fisher played really well. Excellant chemistry.

  47. I think we might need to reassess how we are evaluating Lamar. His defense tonight was actually okay when he wasn’t on Melo. Melo makes everyone who guards him look bad, he really is that good. That step back jumper he has is virtually unguardable. Keeping him off the glass and driving into the lane is what you can and need to do against him, which the Lakers did.

    Lamar is still figuring out his new triangle positon as small forward. I still think he should be the 6th man where his skills would benefit the transition from starters to bench mob. Luke clearly needs to start to play his best. You can keep them minutes the same, just flip the start times.

  48. Completely off topic. But did anyone watch (if you could) the Knicks/Celtics horror show that was on prior to the Lakers game. That was easily the worst basketball game I have ever seen. It was just embarrassing. I’m just glad I’m not a NY fan. I can’t see how Thomas still has his job.

  49. 10..the Lakers got no payback on the Shaq trade, it just allowed them to keep Kobe. The trade was worth it for Miami the minute they won a title. They can suck for the next 5 yrs and it was worth it. That was the risk they took and it paid off for them. I was really surprised they won a title.

  50. 50. I did watch some of that game, and it was amazing how unprofessional, how lethargic and poorly prepared the Knicks were. Honestly, if I were a Knicks fan right now I’d be sick, literally.

  51. 51. As for the Shaq trade from Miami’s end — even if they had lost in the finals it would have been worth it. Before Shaq came to Miami the Heat were a dead franchise, they actually put tarp over some seats in the top levels of the arena and pretended they didn’t want to sell them, but now they are hot ticket and part of the Miami scene. What the owner is paying Shaq he made up for 10 times over in the value of that franchise.

    I’m just glad I’m not trying to run their basketball operations for the next five years.

  52. Is Isiah a worse coach or GM?

  53. Mike at Knickerblogger is one of the most level-headed, rational and smart NBA bloggers out there, and this is what he did after last night’s game:

  54. Thankfully the Nuggets stupidly went away from Melo in the second half after he killed us in the first.

  55. 56- It was the imposing defense of the one and only Luke Walton, ha, yea, Denver is a weird team. A lot of guys who enjoy shooting, they should have Karl read Kurts thread about “complimentary v. best” they could use some of the tidbits we tossed around.

  56. Actually, Luke…..Luke! played great defense on Melo in the 3rd quarter. I couldn’t believe it. When Phil started him in the 3rd, I was thinking our offense would flow and he couldn’t do any worse on Melo than LO did, because yes, Melo makes everyone look bad on D. Then Luke denied him the ball and stayed in front of him…couldn’t believe it.

  57. I was very happy that Kobe in his interview with Ernie, Kenny, and Charles gave a lot of props to Bynum. One can question the motive or sincerity behind it, but I am hoping that it was genuine.

    How tall is Critt? I think he’s listed at 6’5″ but is he really that tall? I believe that his sitting on the bench this year is for his own good, where he can learn a great deal and be ready to contribute next year. I still believe he was a great pickup for the Lakers.

    That being said, will there be a shift in the starting 5? I think a lot of the bench inconsistency is attributable to the changing of the starting 4 position, with Turiaf and Vlad switching back and forth. Is there a possibility of Lamar going back to the 4 and Luke starting at the 3?

  58. Lamar starting full time at the 4 ensures he will be hurt by Valentines day, for his own health, he may not ever be able to play full-time 4 again. 15 mins at the 4, 15 at the 3, might be the answer. Come on Phiilip, earn that boat-load of money and figure out what to do with LO

  59. Not sure I agree with you Kwame A. I think Phil over-played LO the last two years. 40+ minutes a game for an undersized 4 will ruin him. However, your idea is in the right direction, under 30 minutes a game at the 4 is reasonable.

    Luke played good shut-down D last night. i was rather impressed.

  60. finally phil hears me out!

    While Coach Jackson admitted the team isn’t 100% complete, Webber may not be the solution.

    “The only missing part that I’ve consistently said is that we need a head-banger. We need a tough guy on this team. Kwame Brown has been that guy for us. Even though he’s not [tough] personality-wise – physically he is,” said Jackson. “He’s a guy that can knock people around and seal our middle. That’s missing when he’s out . . . it’s something that consistently we need.”

    haha i’ve been harping for two years now that what the lakers need is a Kurt Thomas or PJ Brown type of player, that embodies toughness. An enforcer that will give this team a tough personality in the middle or at least on defense, (rodman and to some extent rick fox) someone that will stand up to the other teams best offensive weapon down low. Phil said its kwame (physically only, but not personality wise). Lets hope he fully embraces that role, because thats the missing piece of the team. But i’d prefer that guy to play the sf/pf position, so that they can bully the melo’s, garnett’s of the other teams

  61. let kleeza guard kobe bryant

  62. let kleeza guard kobe bryant

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