Game Three Thoughts

Kurt —  April 27, 2008

For the first time this postseason the Lakers won a game on defense.

That’s my favorite sentence I’ve typed so far this post-season. The Lakers did a lot of things very well on defense — they forced Iverson into help baseline and didn’t let him slide across the lane for that little fade-away he loves. And just one example of something the Lakers did that across the board, they forced Denver into shots they were not comfortable with, they doubled at the right times from the right angles.

In the end the Nuggets had an offensive rating of 85.7 (points per 100 possessions), way off their season average. They shot just 40.1% (eFG%) as a team.

Some other thoughts.

• I overestimated the pride and passion of the Nuggets.

• The Lakers were aided by the worst game I’ve seen Carmelo play.

Carmelo missed a lot of lay-ups in part because the Lakers overplayed his right hand and dared him to use his off/left hand — he wouldn’t and the in-close misses piled up. Credit to Radmanovic (not someone known for his defense) and Walton for doing a good job on him all over the court.

Carmelo wouldn’t pass out of the doubles, he shot too quickly trying to get off a shot before another defender arrived (even when one wasn’t on the way). Or, Bobby Steels put it this way in the comments:

The MVP of this series should go to MELO. I think we really have to thank Meloman for making this series so easy for us. I mean what more can you ask for? The incessant jab steps, the constant smirks after missing a shot, the spin around move into 2 sometimes 3 defenders and then raising up for a jumpshot, no defense on Vlad or Luke.

• The Lakers did a good job of bringing a forward or center down to help when Denver wanted to run isolation. Let’s use a Carmelo isolation for example (I think Fratello did this during the game). The Lakers point guard would stay out high, the man on Carmelo would try to force him baseline, and either Odom or Gasol would come across and play space to keep him from just driving to the hoop. The two remaining Lakers defenders essentially played a zone on the back side. The same thing happened on Iverson wing isolations. Now, you could expose what the Lakers were doing with skip-passes to the opposite corner or quick ball movement around the perimeter once the double team was drawn, but Denver almost never does that. The Lakers could essentially take away good isolation shots without paying a price.

• Bill Bridges throws out some props to Fisher, playing through an injury:

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.

• After what we saw game three, do you think the Nuggets will show any more passion in game four?