Lakers/Nuggets Game 3 Chat

Kurt —  April 26, 2008

As we enter game three, I think the cliché fallbacks about effort and focus are appropriate here — the Lakers know how to beat the Nuggets, now they just need to do it in a more hostile environment against what will be a motivated Nuggets team. The Lakers have counted on windows of Nuggets disinterest in defense to pull away in the first two games, those windows will be a lot smaller today. Look at how Dallas stepped up their intensity and started to do the things they needed to in this series (be more physical, to start). Denver will be more like that tonight — they have no match up changes they can make to instantly solve their problems, it has to be about playing in their system and doing so with controlled desperation. For their part, the Lakers need to keep the offense flowing, then get back in transition defense.

While the Nuggets defense has rightfully taken some lumps in every form of media, there’s an interesting post up by Jeremy at pickaxeandroll saying that the Nuggets offense is not without blame.

The primary issue remains the same. They know they need to play with greater intelligence, they just seem incapable of actually doing it. My greatest fear for the Nuggets on offense is that AI and Melo will try to do too much. The bleaker the outlook the more Melo and AI count on themselves to carry the offense.

Even more concerning the offense enables both of them to do so as it is designed to get one or the other the ball and simply do their thing. The result is more forced shots, less movement, stagnant offense and frustration.

However, in game two it was not just Melo and AI responsible for the Nuggets inability to move the ball. Unfortunately, like the Jackson family (think Michael and Tito, not Phil), there are multiple offenders. In his brief stretch on the court Nene was surprisingly black hole-esque. I am glad that J.R. is going to the rim, but he is at his best when he is willing to dump the ball off to a teammate from time to time. In the first two games he has been forcing shots when he penetrates and seems to have forgotten that buckets by his teammates count for just as many points as the ones he puts in himself.

Some other good reading out there over at SportsHub about the series.

As for strategy for game 3:

• Still try to make AI a jumpshooter, last game he was hot from 15 to 18, but you want him taking that over a layup. That said, you know Melo and AI will get there points, just don’t let Kleiza or Smith add a big number to that.

• Good transition defense.

• One thing I like the Lakers are doing: Keeping someone on any Denver player who grabs a defensive rebound to prevent a good outlet pass. They also are hanging around AI to make sure he has to work to get the outlet. It’s working, keep it up.

• Know that Denver is not going to go away quietly today, be ready for a dog fight.

• More Luke. He’s playing well and the Nuggets have no answer.

• Keep doing what your doing, and remember not to get caught up in the speed Denver wants to work at.

Kurt

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54 responses to Lakers/Nuggets Game 3 Chat

  1. I hope the Lakers win tonight. Leading 3-0 (like the Spurs over the Suns) is significantly a better position than just leading 2-1 (like the Hornets and Cavs). Lakers must kick a team while it’s down and not give them a chance to bounce back.

    Also, the Jazz-Rockets series is already assured of having a game five. By sweeping the Nuggets, Lakers have the opportunity to gain an advantage with more rest and less risk of injury.

    Go Lakers!

  2. By the way, Larry Brown to the Bobcats? Interesting. Yesterday I heard Sonny Vicaro in the radio call that shot before Vincent was canned.

  3. I never would have believed that Luke would be making such a big impact in the playoffs.

  4. I was kind of hoping we’d face the suns in the WCF so Kobe n Pau could pick n roll them to death

  5. First 6-8 minutes the game will be the toughest. The crowd will try to involve themselves, and Enver will try to feed off that. The Lakers can help themselves a lot by 1) not turning the ball over and 2) not taking quick, long shots. This will hopefully limit the transition opportunities. On defense, I think they will try to get Melo off early. We must avoid foul trouble, because they have been begging for the whistle. I’m looking forward to how this team, with a 2-0 lead, comes out and plays.

  6. ^ yeah i was saying in the other thread that I hope we come out like the spurs did yesterday and not like the hornets did in Dallas

  7. Regarding the Suns conversation on the last thread, salary dump trades and selling off of draft picks happened on Bryan Colangelo’s watch as GM, they happened during D’Antoni’s tenure as GM, and they’ve happened since Kerr was hired last summer. The big-picture pattern is that ownership is unwilling to spend what’s necessary to have a championship-caliber roster.

    I think the Shaq trade was as much owner Robert Sarver’s decision as anyone. On one of Bill Simmons’ podcasts last fall, Ric Bucher made a very cognizant point that acquiring Shaq was actually a decision about money, not competition. They lowered their payroll this year and next, it saved them from having to re-sign Marion, and with all the merchandising revenue Shaq will generate, it was a trade designed to be profitable. If it improved the team, great, but that was not the primary motivation.

    It’s interesting to contrast Sarver with Dr. Buss. Buss has always said that he’ll pay the luxury tax if the team is a championship contender. He understands that in the long run, you make more money by winning than you do by cutting payroll. Sarver has clearly given his front office a mandate to stay within a certain budget, regardless of the cost in terms of lost talent. Buss is focused on winning first, profit second, while Sarver is more focused on short-term profits than having the best possible team.

  8. Today’s game is going to a great test of the Lakers’ mettle.

    In the case that Luke Walton is not able to replicate his performance so far this series, the Lakers are going to need more contributions from Odom, Radmanovic, Fisher, Farmar, and Vujacic.

  9. 7 I think you had it right at the beginning. It’s not that Jerry Buss is not interested in profit (which owner isn’t?), but he knows that a consistently successful team is much more profitable in the long run. Paying the luxury tax is more palatible knowing you have a team that is competing and thus earning money, than paying the luxury tax for a team that is languishing in the standings and with the media (cough cough New York Knicks cough cough.)

  10. A few quick thoughts.

    1. Karl is in a quandry. Kleiza for Carter creates a bigger, more athletic team but seriously emasculates the second unit. Kleiza off the bench is the primary option, whereas with AI And Melo, there are not many shots left over. I would like to see the Lakers pressure AI more, get the ball out of his hands and make Kleiza or Martin be a playmaker.

    2. AI has been killing Farmar whereas Fisher has been doing a pretty good job on him. For instance, AI couldn’t go to his preferred move which is a dribble drive from right to left through the lane for a drifting J at the FT line. Fisher drove him right each time and toward the baseline where help was waiting (except once when AI had a wide opne layup on a blown rotation).

    Farmar has to cheat one way or another and count on his teammates. I would force him baseline each time. And if straight ahead, let him take the long J.

    JR Smith is breaking out before our eyes. I don’t see how Denver, as over the cap as they, are can re-sign him. NO with Smith and Bass would have been tough…

  11. The way for the Lake Show to win Game 3 in Denver: emulate what the Spurs did to the Suns yesterday night.

    Simple sounding, but still too much.

  12. “the Nuggets no answer [for Luke]” A sentence that’s never been said in the history of the world before this series.

  13. 10- Bill Bridges, I hoped you smiled, LO had a sweet move from the RIGHT block, he needs more touches there. As far as NO with Bass and Smith, they couldn’t do it the way Byron wanted, and I think that is what makes NO so good, they all buy into to Byron’s scheme and demanding work ethic.

  14. Najera needs to stop pretending like he didn’t commit those two fouls.

    EDIT: and stop hitting three’s.

  15. Vujacic really gets under Smith’s skin. The Lakers are not playing too bad. I appreciate their level heads. They are playing calm and methodically.

  16. Nugs over playing their man and jumping passing lanes. A few back door cuts would be handy now…

  17. 15-I completely agree. The Lakers are taking the right approach to this game, generally patient on offense and solid on melo and ai (although a little loose on some of the nugget role players).

  18. Are the Nugs already showing signs of losing it?

  19. Enver is really jawing with the refs. That has to distract them in their focus.

  20. Denver’s best offense would be to have AI fall down each and every possession. 3/4 of the time he gets the foul call.

  21. Good back cut by Walton leading to a layup from a feed from Gasol. This is available each possession with a little patience.

  22. Denver has missed about a million lay-ups, especially Carmelo. That worries me, if they start hitting those in the second half. Hopefully Kobe and Odom can wake up and make that a non-issue.

  23. Just wonering, is the elevation of Denver a factor at all? I read that the atmosphere is different being up in the mountains, but is it an impacting factor at all?

  24. The Nuggets are playing very uninspired basketball. The Lakers need to take advantage and start pulling away so that Enver cannot make a last gasp grasp for the game.

  25. Kenyon’s set up for that one dribble to the right , pump fake, and one move.

  26. 22 The Lakers in interviews over the last several days have mentioned that the altitude does make a difference for the first few minutes of the game. But, they say, if you push past it, you are fine.

  27. 24-Your message was recieved via transmitter in Kobe’s ear. Martin has totally lost his cool, I hope he doesn’t try to hurt Kobe under the guise of a hard foul. The Nuggets want to quit, lets make it easy for them.

  28. WOOOOOOA!~ Kobe for 3!

  29. Oh well. He grabbed Kobe’s wrist to avoid the and one…

  30. Aaauuuuugggghhh! Kobe! Why did he take that?! There were 4 seconds left on the shot clock!

  31. dang, it looks like lakers got that lackadaisical behavior from the nuggets! bad behaviors are just too contagious! goodness…

    they look so lost out there just like nuggets…. argh.

  32. This is not D. Fish’s first dance…big 3ball! Then a bucket by LO, good response, back up 15

  33. 83-64 at the end of 3…….more than the lead, i like the pace. transition to a grind it out, purposeful, playoff basketball!!!……..

  34. This looks more like the Nuggets of 2 years ago who lost to the Clips 4-1 and looked like crap doing it. Depressing to watch.

  35. The atmosphere in Denver is really just chaotic and rowdy right now. I’m seriously scared and worried that a Nuggets player might commit a stupid and flagrant foul because I just feel like it’s about to erupt for some reason.

    Lakers are amazingly keeping their poise and cool and it’s nice to see that from a team which has no relative playoff experience together as a group compared to that of a veteran team.

    I’ve been saying this a million times, but hopefully we can attack the zone a bit better instead of just settling for 3’s. At least work from Pau to outside instead of Kobe-to-Fish-to-Radman for 3.

  36. geesh… why wasn’t anyone helping luke up after he got fouled? haha.

  37. On a random note, I kind of feel for Kleiza who has been a monster on the offensive glass, but these refs are always calling the foul on him for going over the back. It shouldn’t be his foul when he has great hops and is relentless in going for the offensive rebound.
    I counted 5 fouls called on him in Games 2 and 3 combined so far.

  38. man, i know the leauge wants to do interviews with the head coach between quarters, but it really sucks for the coach who is losing by 20 going into the 4th qtr.

  39. 38 Ha, ha. I know what you mean. I had to mute the TV I felt so bad for him.

  40. S. Vujacic doing a J-Kidd. Snap pass to a back cutting Walton. Penetrate and dish to a diving Walton. Didn’t know you had it in ya Sasha. Now bring out that turnaround fall away on the base line.

  41. DJ Mbenga, Luke Walton, Sasha and Jordan. Our bench gave us good minutes.

  42. Good win. Now just have to finish the job Monday.

  43. Gotta be happy that we kept a level head the whole time. Let our game do the talking. With all the hard fouls and chippiness we kept our cool. IMO it’s a testament to Phil and the coaching staff. I still think we could use an enforcer inside though.

  44. Lakers dominating

    Only negative is the FTs…we got make the gimmes. 20/33 FTs?! And what is up with Gasol’s FTs? He’s been shooting Shaq-like numbers on the stripe.

  45. Not Charlie Rosen April 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I have to ask…anyone know what was going on in the stands towards the end of the game? The TNT camera caught several Lakers staring up into the stands near their bench, along with what looked like security or arena staff, while the game was going on…TNT didn’t even mention it, did KCAL or the radio identify what was going on?

    Loving it, btw. Series is over, Monday’s just a formality. Why am I not worried we’ll show up complacent and let that one slip? Same reason we play better on Sundays now: Shaq’s in Phoenix, this is Kobe’s team, and he lives to twist the dagger.

  46. Great team effort. But for me, the game ball goes to Derek Fisher. Clutch shooting. The biggest being the 3 when Denver dared to hope to get back in the game in the 3rd quarter. But more important was his D. His man D on Iverson was fantastic. If not for some cheap calls he would have pitched a virtual shut out. But it is on team D that he stood out. Whenever a Nugget started to penetrate, Fisher was there swiping at the ball. He only got credited for 2 steals but I saw many deflections and turnovers as a result of Fisher’s activity.

  47. By far the best defensive game the Lakers have played in this series, and in a while. Denver shoots just 40.1% (eFG%) and had an offensive rating of 87.5 (points per 100 possessions). They really did the best they have done in a while taking away what Denver wanted to do, counting on them not to make a series of smart passes. It worked.

  48. The Yahoo recap said it was a fight b/w fans. Didn’t say who the participants were..

  49. what a great game!! 3-0 it is… I look forward to seeing some exciting moments in game 4 as well!!

  50. Despite the determined efforts of Linus “Killer” Kleiza, Eduardo “the assassin” Najera, and Kenyon “Mojo” Martin, the Lakers came through without major injuries–while proving that they can play team offense AND defense–and win “San Antonio style.”

    They’ve obviously been watching playoff basketball.

    One more to go–Let’s hope they are “Rocky Mountain High” on Monday!

  51. The Dude Abides April 26, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    A healthy Luke makes all the difference, as his play has really improved as his health has returned. Gotta say the same is true for Lamar. This was a great effort by the Lakers. The coaching staff will look hard to find some fault, and the only thing they can really find is the uncharacteristically poor FT shooting. They might look at the rebounding battle too, but the big discrepancy came down to how few offensive rebounds the Lakers had, and that was due to so many of our players immediately getting back to defend once we put up a shot. Don’t want to let the Nugget fast break get going in Denver.

  52. Where’s AI? I would like to have him explain why Karl sat him down almost the entire 4th quarter. Maybe to save him from picking more techs?

    I don’t think dENVER players want to win game 4 and travel to LA for another game, which will be a ROUT. I’m sure they’re already shopping for new fishing gears.

    A great win by the SMART, DISCIPLINED, and EXECUTING team. I think seeing SA maul PHX really helped our team to come out and show that they’re the BIG DOG in this year’s playoffs. The way they controlled the tempo and moved the ball reminded me of the veteran team of 2000-2002. I know that talent wins in NBA, but character and discipline keep the winning continue. I’m glad we have a bunch of guys who are talented AND have great character, especially in FIsher, Gasol, and Luke. I think they really make our team special. And of course, having MVP, KB24 isn’t too shabby either.

  53. Nomuskles game live blog is up. Tomorrow a little game breakdown post will go up. Trying to think of nice things to say about Denver. It’s a beautiful city.

  54. The Nuggets have no concept of team ball at all. Their two “stars” just crank up shots. Melo in particular. When he gets it, he’s gonna shoot. They have weapons on that team but AI and Melo are nothing but scorers and neither one makes anyone on their team better. In fact their shoot first mentality has infected everyone else on that team except for Camby(because he rarely touches the ball in the offensive set.

    Watching these games is just a glaring contrast of styles.
    And team ball wins .