Lakers/Nuggets Game 2 Chat

Kurt —  April 23, 2008

NBA Playoffs thought of the day: In the wake of the Pau Gasol trade two teams made big moves to try to “keep up with the Busses.” Phoenix traded for Shaq, Dallas made a move for Jason Kidd, both mortgaged future assets to win it all this year. How is that working out?

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Now on to the Lakers/Nuggets game. If you haven’t gotten enough previews from everything at this site, there is some great stuff on the Web to check out. First there is maybe the best guy writing Xs and Os in the mainstream out there, ESPN.com’s David Thorpe, with a breakdown:

L.A. needs to be more worried about controlling Iverson. When the Lakers were able to force him to dribble attack laterally, by playing soft and showing defensive helpers up the floor, Iverson was very ineffective. But when he attacked more vertically on Lakers breakdowns, using both ballscreens and his own talent at changing speeds, he was terrific at both scoring and drawing fouls. It appears Gasol can not hedge effectively against Iverson on ballscreens, so getting immediate wing help is a must, or A.I. can get to the rim and likely draw some fouls on Pau. L.A. can try to just jam up Iverson with that second defender, or even blitz him and try to trap/contain him with bigger guards and wings.

If Iverson recognizes that he can score 20-plus points but get 15-plus assists against this style of defense, Denver’s offense can definitely jump up a notch. Consider that super subs Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith scored a combined 38 points on just 21 shots. They are very dangerous players, especially when A.I. is playing more of a point guard role. The Lakers might decide to cut off much of their help on A.I. and force him into being solely a scorer. Iverson played that role very poorly in last year’s playoffs versus the Spurs as he struggled to finish shots against their big men around the rim. But L.A.’s interior defense is not as good as San Antonio’s, so it’s a risk to play a similar strategy…..

These teams are a lot closer in talent and ability, and Denver has to realize it can win a game with more patience and smarter offensive execution combined with more mental focus on defense — the Nuggets outscored L.A. in quarters 1, 2 and 4. But it takes four good quarters to beat a No. 1 seed on the road. I think Denver can do it, although this should be a game that is very tight at the end.

Thorpe predicts a Nugget win, doing so because he thinks Denver will start to grind it out a little more. As I said before the series, if I thought Denver was mentally willing to do that for extended periods I’d be more worried than I am.

Then there is great stuff (with video to back it up) from Jeremy at Pickaxeandroll, breaking down game one.

In this segment I look at the Nuggets poorly executed scheme when Camby’s man sets a ball screen. Camby goes opposite of the screen to play the baseline. The on the ball defender plays soft to prevent penetration away from the screen and they bring a third defender to cover the screen side incase the ball handler takes the screen.

The biggest problem with that defense is Camby always allows the ball handler to just dribble past him through the paint and leaves Camby defending no one. Meanwhile, whoever was set to cover the ball handler on the high side is stuck covering Camby’s man and leaves the Nuggets perimeter D lacking, even more so than usual. The other weakness this defense presents is with Camby roaming after the ball handler someone is left to defend the lane in front of the rim alone, which resulted in some of the easy buckets that were so frequently scored by the Lakers.

I recognize that this scheme is designed to allow Camby to stay closer to the rim, but it is just so poorly executed the Nuggets really have little chance to consistently make stops with this strategy.

The other really interesting thing I documented was the way the Nuggets pushed the pace and were aggressive with the ball during their run in the second quarter. They looked completely different than the way they played the rest of the game. They were not necessarily scoring on the break, but they were attacking from the start of the possession.

If you want more, check out Moore at Fanhouse.

My two cents on the chess match — I think Denver will play better interior defense, and they will collapse on Kobe when he gets in the lane (and he will, fewer jumpers to come). But the Laker guards (Fisher, Farmar, Sasha) will get better looks because of it. Those three will shoot over the top of the zone or over AI. One or more will have a big night and key a Lakers win.

I expect this game to be a little closer than game one, and a little more intense (read: chippy). I’ll be home and more active in the chat tonight, looking forward to this one.

Kurt

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72 responses to Lakers/Nuggets Game 2 Chat

  1. The Dude Abides April 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I’ve posted in the past that I think what’s taking Andrew to heal so long is the bone bruise. This article on Bynum on Yahoo! via Sporting News says that the tissue damaged in the subluxation is fully healed, but the bone bruise isn’t. It’s too hard to get blood into the kneecap area for the bone to heal quickly. The subluxations I had in the past all took three to six weeks to get my knee back in playing shape. I wonder if Andrew should try the hyperbaric chamber that Dirk uses…

    http://tinyurl.com/3zv82z

  2. I got LSAT class till 10:30 so I gotta watch this game tivo’ed. I’m gonna struggle to focus in class knowing that I’m gonna be missing a more entertaining (closer) game thatn Game 1.

    I don’t expect Melo-melo Man to have 2 awful games in a row. He scored 30, but it was a forced 30. Hopefully Vlad doesn’t pick up early foul trouble again (can’t believe I just typed that), cuz his length affects Melo, relatively speaking. And by relatively speaking, I mean it’s better than having Luke on him, cuz Melo-melo man just punishes Luke.

    Oh – I hope Turiaf is feeling better cuz I heard from a little bird that we should expect to see some Nene tonight.

  3. 2- Is Nene healthy now? I think he could help them by providing an interior physical presence.

  4. The key stat for the night will be the number of 3pt taken by the Lakers. I expect the Nuggs to pack it in more. That will open up outside shots for our guards. The key is not to take it just because it’s there. We need to be patient and learn to re-establish the post if necessary. If we jack up 25+ 3pt shots, we won’t be successful. If we keep it between 15-20, it will be acceptable as long as we hit more than 7-10.

    Another key stat will be the rebounding numbers. If we can control the defensive boards effectively, both Pau and LO getting 12+ and Kobe and SF chipping in with 6+ each, then we will be able to limit their 2nd chance points. If not, we could get killed on offensive rebounding by Melo, K-Mart, and Camby, who are potentially better rebounders than they have shown in game 1.

  5. Yeah i saw him play one of those last reg season games. For the short stint he was out there he brought exactly what u mentioned

  6. 3, Kwame a., yes, Nene is expected to play limited minutes tonight.

  7. 5/6-Thanks. I saw Nene play in late March and although his conditioning was in top form, he was clearing out space and moving bodies. Considering how much Pau destroyed the Nuggets in the interior in Game 1, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to get physical with Pau.

  8. As for the trades, they’re both 0-2 now, aren’t they? Had they not pulled the trade, we’d also have them at different seeds, maybe even 4 and 5, giving us Suns vs. Mavs, NO vs. Utah and SA vs HOU…

    Denver is all ‘upside.’ Denver is the typical ‘prospect’ with all the right parts… but somehow never ‘gets it’ and ends up being a bust.

    And as i would hope for the rookie to perform up to his hype just out of humane reasons, i kinda hope the nuggets put at least one good game together in this playoffs.

  9. I’ve always thought that what immediately set the Pau trade apart from the Shaq & Kidd trades is that the Lakers’ trade dramatically improved the team’s prospects for the present AND the future, whereas Phoenix and Dallas clearly only traded for the present. I think that has contributed to a culture of desperation in both PHO & DAL that, if everything isn’t breaking right, can turn real sour real fast.

    Incredibly, my schedule is preventing me from watching the first 4 (all 4, hopefully) games of this series live – so I’ll be rockin’ the TiVo late tonight and trying to avoid hearing any news before then…

  10. It’s tough to get too puffed up about the Gasol trade when it was so lucky. It’s not like we can point to some superior philosophy that makes such trades possible — “do X, Y, and Z and you can get a 27 year old all star for your 3 worst players and a few low draft picks.” It was just the perfect storm of circumstances — unhappy star, financially struggling team, we were overpaying a terrible player in the last year of his contract, other owners didn’t want to pay the tax, Memphis was mismanaged, etc. 99% of the time you have to give something to get something, so I don’t blame Dallas and Phoenix for trying to keep pace in the West — even if their moves look so desperate compared to our heist.

    I think Phoenix would gamble again on Shaq if given the chance. He’s actually playing really well — great rebounding, good post defense, and some terrible pick and roll defense. Phoenix gave up a great player to get Shaq, but Marion was malcontent and the team had a fatal flaw to address (interior defense and rebounding). Phoenix should be tied in that series going back home, and I don’t think they would have fared better with Marion instead of Shaq.

    Dallas, on the other hand, is imploding. They gave away a happy, young point guard who fit in well in their offensive schemes and played good defense. Local sentiment is that Avery is done for and a major roster shakeup is coming. They need someone — anyone — who can get a few points in the paint.

  11. Also, Pau fit in perfectly with the system the Lakers had in place – he just immediately made everything work better (picture Lamar dishing one of his game 1 in-the-paint touch passes to Kwame instead of Pau, and the inevitable groans that would have reverberated across the LA basin).

    Phoenix & Dallas, by contrast, had to seriously revamp their systems to accommodate their pricey veteran acquisitions. That’s a tough task for any club to accomplish in the middle of a season.

  12. Just thought I’d mention that Thorpe made an error–the Nuggets didn’t outscore the Lakers in the 1st quarter (The Lakers led 26-22 after 1).

  13. Tonight is a good first test of our mental makeup. In our first title run with Shaq, we seemed to consistently get ahead in series but then have trouble closing teams out. Do our young players come out complacent tonight, perhaps thinking they’ve already won the war? Or do they show some killer instinct and try to break Denver’s spirit? I sense Kobe, Gasol, Fisher, and Odom go for the jugular. We’ll see about the rest.

    This game will be a lot harder and we can’t have another repeat of Kobe (or another star) playing so inefficiently. We basically won the last game because of the advantage we had over Denver’s small lineup (Carter or Iverson on Walton). Denver is aware of that and won’t let it happen again.

  14. Gotta agree with Reed on both his posts…

    The trades would be ranked Lakers, Suns, then Dallas. For the Lakers, getting Gasol was like dropping a nickel in the street, bending over to pick it up, and then finding a $100 bill. And the Suns’ problem isn’t that it swapped out Marion for Shaq, it’s that they’ve passed over on too many opportunities over the years that could be paying dividends right now. How would Phoenix look with Luol Deng? How about with Andre Iguadala? How with about Rajon Rondo? And now that Grant Hill is banged up, they don’t have enough depth to hang on to leads. Not against a team that can grind you down like the Spurs (or us, for that matter). I also don’t think Kidd is really the problem as much as Josh Howard turning into a B-grade version of what he’s been the past 3 seasons. I think Dallas would retract this deal if only to get last year’s all-star SF back in a groove.

    As for tonight, I’m looking for a better effort from the bench. Specifically Farmar and Turiaf (who I hope is recovered enough to really contribute). Better execution in game situations where Kobe, Odom and Gasol are not in the game. Let’s stay away from taking quick shots and dissect the defense by continuing to make the extra pass and making smart plays. On defense, just guard guys. No more disinterested stretches. No more taking it easy because we’re up by double digits. Playoff effort. Championship effort. Every other Western team is up 2-0 going into to game 3….I’d really like to keep pace.

  15. How about the incredibly short-sighted “trade” Phoenix made to dump salary? Think they couldn’t use James Jones shooting? Or having Aaron Brooks coming off the bench at PG or maybe Morris Almond to give them SG scoring?
    Only big problem I see for Lakers tonite is overconfidence. In the immortal words of Han Solo,”Don’t get cocky kid!”

  16. too bad that Kobe is going to give up as much as he will score tonight. He better wake up and pay attention to Kleiza.

  17. 16-12 Denver.

    Kleiza showing a complete offensive game. Range on the jumper, quick first step with the strong finish, and the escape/rhythm dribble to his left w/ the midrange j.

    Fisher’s missed layup is a good example of getting caught up in Denver’s game. He forces his way into a short shot and Denver brings it back on a cross match with AI that leads to an easy bucket.

  18. On the flip side, I like Kobe’s decisiveness. He’s held the ball a little long on a couple of occasions, but has ultimately driven the ball and attacked in those instances rather than settling for the jumper. Even though we have active hands on defense, we still need to box out and get more of those loose balls.

  19. Holy crap when Kobe took off I thought that might be a tad too far even for him, but what a dunk. Reminscent of his monster over Nash last year (or 2 years ago?) only without the little Canadian man underneath.

    Does anyone else find Reggie Miller incredibly annoying? Maybe it’s just me, but I actually like the ABC commentators this year better (Van Gundy), although few can top Marv Albert.

  20. Falling into Denver’s gameplan: Let kobe beat you and shut down the others. First quarter is in the books and Kobe already took 10 shots, but unfortunately for Denver, he’s sizzling.

  21. Too bad about Turiaf, but Mbenga is giving us good minutes.

  22. Let’s see if they can keep the intensity up this time around. That and Denver doesn’t become really chippy.

  23. Kobe’s doing a great job, but it’ll be interesting to see how the others play in the 2nd half. In previous seasons, when Kobe put up a lot of shots, the other guys never got into a rhythm.

    My feeling is that’s not as much of a problem with Gasol in the line-up, a true go-to offensive option. We’ll see.

  24. Kobe is SMOKIN!

  25. what is the other team supposed to do when Kobe gets hot like that!! woo man.. he is putting on a show tonite.. this game is getting very intense..

  26. lol, I don’t mean this as a critique of other posters at all, just noticing how highly kobe is regarded and thus judged. If anyone else in the league was scoring like kobe it’d be a career game already, but for kobe we are worried if he is going to be able to keep his team mates in rhythm as well as absolutely destroying the nuggets ;)

    I understand the whole ‘rhythm argument,’ but I think it also falls on his team mates to keep themselves ready and make opportunities for themselves. This year I think its happening less not only because of kobe but also because the other guys have more self belief and are keeping their heads in the game. I think the other guys will be ready to step up when kobe stops shooting…

  27. Nice….start passing away from Kobe so he can’t even utilize getting doubled. Kobe’s hot, so either let him shoot or use him as a way to get your man off yourself.

  28. Snoopy i agree with you.

    I think Kobe’s great scoring prowess is a double-edged sword in that it can give us the lead, but also take away the rhythm of the other players. We’ll see if Kobe can maintain his hot shooting or if he cools off, how he’ll make plays by playing the “decoy” as he has alluded to.
    If the Lakers can somehow figure out a way to attack the zone better instead of settling for 3′s, we can collect the win tonight.

  29. When Kobe went off in the first half, I was afraid other guys would struggle and that’s exactly what is happening.

    We need to take the zone, not settle for 3′s that are not falling.

  30. It must be very rewarding if you pass the ball and have the guy not only score, but get an and-one out of it.

    The force is strong in this one…

  31. When the Lakers get the ball inside against the zone, via penetration or to Pau, then kick out it works well, they get good looks. When they work the ball around the outside they get bad shots. Patience.

  32. that alley oop pau to kobe is the play of the game.

  33. Now Kobe on the AI in the second half of the fourth, smart move.

  34. Smart move by Pau to attack Martin in the post to draw his sixth foul.

  35. Offensive foul on Melo, but shout out to Bill Bridges. He called it, saying Melo only has three moves in the post and his favorite is a bull rush with the right shoulder leading, and that the counter move was to flop. Walton read the same scouting report.

  36. It’s nice to know Kobe is going to win a few of these ugly games for us by himself. Only three teams can probably feel that way — us, Cleveland, and New Orleans.

  37. I LOVE when teams lose composure against us, and Kobe smells blood in the water and either nails a huge shot or makes a big play. That killer instinct is what I love the most about watching him play and the number one reason why he always draws comparisons to Jordan.

  38. By the way, now Kobe is being aggressive with Kleiza on him. He should, that is a mismatch.

  39. sorry stuck with no tv, what happened why the two technical fouls on denver (smith and iverson)?

  40. Iverson and Melo are obviously talented and are going to put up gaudy scoring numbers, but you get the feeling they are incapable of combining to shoot better than 45%. With Denver having no one on their team that is going to get a lot of easy, efficient points inside, all of that perimeter scoring isn’t going to avail much. On the flip side, Kobe also usually shoots 45%, but he mixes it with Pau and Odom’s 55%+ shooting and great playmaking.

  41. 39. Smith was fouled by Sasha and retaliated. AI just lost his composure and said some magic words to the ref.

  42. Why is Odom playing so little? He hasn’t seen action in a while….he didn’t get hurt did he?

  43. AP. Odom picked up a fifth foul early in the fourth and went to the bench. Been no reason to bring him back.

  44. O. Thanks Kurt….I’m intently following the gamecast but failed to take a look at the fouls.

  45. Good to know, no, great to have that you have a team that is capable of winning with both a hot Kobe and a cold Kobe.

    scratch that. Kobe is beyond hot tonight.

  46. Walton seems to be doing well in the series so far.

  47. Lesson #258: don’t trash talk to Kobe.

  48. OH NO! COBY!

    i was hoping Kobe hit 50 tonight :(

    ;):);)

  49. Son of George!!!!

  50. Coby for Kobe!
    No 50pts tonight?

  51. wow. kobe best player how can they take him out! but we played great okay kobe was on fire and fish was good but gasol and odom were inneffective. but dj gave some quality minutes grest signs. we can get the sweet but im seeing 4-1

  52. Sorry no tv. If Coby’s on the bench who didnt suit up today? Is Turiaf out?

  53. anyone know what kobe said to reggie miller?

  54. C’mon run a play for son of george!!!

  55. I can see why Laker haters hate the way Kobe gets cocky at times, but as a Laker fan I absolutely love his attitude. Trash talk is just empty words, but with Kobe you know when he gets mad he’s going for your throat.

    It’s nice to see the other Coby get some playing time. Does anyone–Bill Bridges, Kurt–have any opinions on his game? From the few glimpses I’ve seen of him, he looks like he could be a solid role player down the line, but then again I’ve only seen him a couple times.

  56. Turiaf was out with sore throat.

    Kobe AND Luke both 1 pointshy of career playoff fhighs. Major props to those two.

  57. 51. You take him out so there is no cheap foul where he gets injured.

    Laker offensive rating for the night: 125 (points per 100 possessions), That is crazy good and right where they were last game. Denver at 110, a little lower than last game. 98 possessions, five fewer than last game. All good things.

  58. why just 22 minutes for lamar? I mean yeah seems like Walton had a pretty good game but just making sure that he isn’t injured or something.

  59. What a game by Kobe…

    One thing that really gets to me, though, is when they interview another Laker after the game and ONLY ask questions about Kobe. Luke just had his second great playoff game (18/7/5) and Craig Sager only asks him “What’s it like to have a teammate like Kobe? What was with Kobe tonight?” Give him some love!

  60. What’s funny is that inspite of everybody expecting tons of upsets in the western conference playoffs this year, if you look at the standings now, all the top seeds are up 2-0.

  61. 58. Lamar was in foul trouble almost the whole of second half, that’s why the fewer minutes.

  62. Lamar was in foul trouble the ENTIRE game. Two quick fouls a quick fourth and fifth. Also, Luke was having a terrific game reducing the need to play L.O. in foul trouble.

  63. Luke Walton is playing like he’s played in these types of games before in the playoffs as a Laker. He’s playing tough defense, making the hustle plays, and – holy jesus – making 3′s as well!!
    Luke had struggled a bit with injuries this season, but it’s really exciting to see him play this well and as probably the 4th best player on the Lakers right now.
    He is probably the best defensive matchup we have against Carmelo, and he’s just proving to be so valuable on both ends of the floor.

    And my hat, bandanna, headband, w/e off to Mr. Kobe Bryant. He put on a scintillating show tonight. 18-27 shooting was great, but 10 assists to go with it?? As others have said, many people including myself judge him on a higher standard for who he is, but this has got to be one of his best playoff games ever. Coming into game 2, we questioned if Kobe would try to do too much, to prove he can score at will against Martin. No such worries tonight. Great play-making, timely passes, and scoring when needed Kobe was both Jordan and Magic tonight.

  64. did anyone catch what kobe said to reggie miller in the 4th quarter?

  65. The Dude Abides April 23, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Lamar was in foul trouble the whole game. Luckily, Luke plays D on Anthony better than just about any other SF in the league. I’m serious, that’s not a typo. In the “Sasha throat” game earlier this season, Luke was matched up on Melo in the second half, and played great. Melo abuses just about every other SF in the league in the low post (including dirty Bowen), but he only got one or two baskets on Luke in the low post the entire game. He missed a bunch of shots, and got called for charging at least once.

  66. Is it me or does Luke play his best in the playoffs? Maybe it’s true that intelligence becomes even MORE important in the playoffs. It’s amazing how 2 of this top 5 games this season have come in this series.

  67. This from the recap notes:

    Father and son are very close. “I saw him last night, I think he wore every piece of Lakers gear he owns,” the elder Karl said.

    i find stuff like this highly entertaining and heartwarming…

  68. Don’t be surprised to see some fines coming for J.R. Smith…at the end of FSN’s post-game show they interviewed him in the Nuggets locker room and he said “It’s tough playing 5 on 8″ and some other stuff regarding the officials.

  69. The thing I don’t understand is the Nugget techs. Its not as if they aren’t getting calls. They’ve shot more free throws than us both games, and it’s not like they were that much more aggressive: http://www.sportsline.com/nba/gamecenter/shotchart/NBA_20080423_DEN@LAL (kind of weird how Denver shot no corner 3s whatsoever…)

    Iverson got himself ejected in game 1 because he thought a handcheck should have been called (by his own account). Really? A handcheck? This team is in their own heads.

  70. OK. I’ll admit it, I felt kinda naked out there without LO for so long.

  71. The Dude Abides April 24, 2008 at 12:05 am

    JD Hastings, I totally agree with you regarding the Nuggets not having any legitimate gripe. They shot 36 FT tonight vs the Lakers shooting 24. That’s 50% more than the Lakers. It’s obvious that if the Lakers keep the pressure on, the Nuggets will just melt down.

  72. Nice breakdown, thanks. It was greatly appreciated…