Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Kurt —  February 27, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets - Game Three
Records: Lakers 48-10 (1st in West) Nuggets 38-20 (3rd in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.4 (1st in league) Nuggets 109.2 (9th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.4 (7th in league) Nuggets 106.6 (10th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Nuggets Billups, Dahntay Jones, Melo, K-Mart, Johan Petro

Jordan Farmar’s beard: Jordan Farmar has apparently given up shaving for Lent. I’m not sure there’s another reason for sporting his new beard. But Mimsy made a great point in the comments:

There has been a depressing lack of facial hair on the Laker bench since Turiaf left. Morrison’s porn stach is all well and good, but we needed for a real beard. Farmer stepped up and did what was necessary for the team, and should be commended. Plus, the beard makes his ears look smaller which means he now looks more like an Earthling and less like a Vulcan. Since extra-terrestrials have been banned from playing in the NBA for some time now, that will also cut back significantly on administrative costs for the team.

Lakers without Bynum. When someone suggested in the comments after the OKC game that the Lakers were better off without Bynum, there were some interesting comments from Reed and Darius, that deserve a bigger audience. So, here they are.

Reed first:

I don’t think the Lakers are better without Bynum either, but they are much more cohesive, fluid, natural, purposeful (searching for the right combination of adjectives…). Without Drew, I think the team feels more comfortable in a few ways. There’s a sense of familiarity born of last year’s title run. The roles are more clearly defined, leading to increased individual (even if not team) consistency – Kobe gets 30, Pau 20 and 10, Lamar 15 and 12, and so forth, with little variation. With Drew, sometimes he’d be option #1 down low and sometime Gasol, Odom’s role wildly fluctuated based on need, Kobe didn’t need to score as much, etc. The offense also moves more fluidly without Bynum as all 5 players can typically pass and shoot from outside, whereas Drew leads to a lot of possessions where he slowly operates on the block (and very effectively). The pace is also more consistently up tempo without Drew. So, again, things are more uniform without Drew – consistent pace, defined roles, free flowing offense, etc. There’s real appeal in that and it works, this year and last. But Drew gives the team real upside. When he’s firing, he transforms our defense from okay/good to great and presents an overwhelming physical presence that few teams can deal with on offense.

Now Darius:

I would also add to what Reed is saying about fluidness on offense. Bynum is not nearly the level passer that Gasol is from the hub of the Triangle and that makes the ball stall more and leads to uninspired cuts from our other players as they rarely get rewarded from that movement when it’s Bynum that’s doing the posting. In addition to this, LO is replaced by Pau in the starting group and Pau is not as mobile nor the cutter that LO is so we don’t get the same type of off ball motion out of Pau that we get from LO (this is also true when it’s Pau posting and Bynum is the one that would be moving off the ball). So, with Bynum in the game, we end up with more post iso’s. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because as Reed pointed out, our bigs are very efficient scorers on the block.

One last point I would make is that both LO and Bynum are mostly isolation players when they have the ball in their hands, they just do it in different ways. LO loves to attack off the dribble and Phil likes to put him in positions where he can drive against PF’s that don’t have the skill to stay in front of him (for example those top of the key iso’s where we go to a 1-4 set and Odom can drive hard to his left hand with shooters all around him). Bynum on the other hand has really come into his own as a player that can score against very good defenders in the post. My point really is this: Do you want a player that can create off the dribble or another player that can score on the block with consistency? The funny thing is, (I want) and we really need both. When you look at our team, Kobe and Farmar are the only players that can create for themselves or others off the dribble besides LO. And Kobe and Gasol are the only players that can score in the post with consistency besides Bynum. This is why we need Bynum back and why we also need Odom on this team. They bring dimensions to our team that aren’t prevalent outside of one or two other players. In the end, I’d love for Odom to keep his aggression level high when Bynum returns while also hoping that Bynum is ready to score on the block the way that he was when he got injured. It’s this diversity, with a full roster, that makes us such a complete offensive team.

The Nuggets Coming In: Last playoffs we got so much great info on the Nuggets from the blogger Jeremy that I reached out to him, at his new blog Roundball Mining Company, and asked him a couple of questions.

The conventional wisdom is that this year’s Nuggets team is a better defensive squad than last year’s team. But, the squad’s per possession numbers are identical to last year’s numbers. Is this a better defensive team? Also, is their transition defense as inconsistent as it looks at times?

The Nuggets have been subjecting their fans to a return of the enver Nuggets jokes with the play over the previous couple of months. No matter how you slice it, their defense has been mediocre at best the past couple of months. They put together a three game stretch against Miami, Orlando and Philly that lead me to believe they may be getting back to playing defense the way they did to start the season. It proved to be a fluke though as they have posted single game defensive efficiencies of 123.4, 121.3, 127.4 and 121.7 since then.

The area where the defense has improved is they are all paying attention. Last season players like J.R. Smith, Allen Iverson and Carmelo would routinely lose track of their man and then be shocked to discover that he had just scored a layup. That does not happen anymore this season. The problem has primarily been an issue of communication and defending the pick and roll.

Earlier in the season you almost never saw two Nuggets both running at the same shooter. Now that is much more common. Tell me if I am wrong, but it I always thought that teams should get better executing what they do as the season progresses and not worse.

As far as defending the pick and roll they have been relying almost exclusively on switching, which makes me nuts. You are voluntarily creating two mismatches when you switch plus it is lazy and I think establishes a culture of passivity. After the Celtics completely demolished them due largely to the switching of screens Denver tried playing much more aggressive against Atlanta by trapping the ball handler coming off the screen. If you are interested in reading how that went you can do so here, but the summary version is the Nuggets ended up giving up many open shots.

Ultimately, I think the conventional wisdom is correct that this version of the Nuggets is a much more capable defensive squad than in the past, but only if they are performing at their peak. When they float through games just going through the motions, they get absolutely picked apart.

As far as their transition defense, they have been very porous as of late. One reason for that has been that the guards are not stopping the ball in transition. Both Chauncey and Anthony Carter routinely are left standing at the three point line while the opposing point guard is in the lane to finish a fast break. The other reason is just a lack of want to. They are just getting beat back on defense. Several times against Atlanta they had Hawk players pass them going down the floor, even after makes, resulting in fast break points.

I am still holding out hope that as the season progresses and the pressure ramps up Denver will revert back to their early season defensive mentality, but there is no guarantee that they will. That means there is no guarantee that they will continue to remain amongst the top teams in the Western Conference and thus if they do not get their defensive act together, they will be staring at a sixth straight first round playoff exit.

The Nuggets seem to be the most heavily tattooed team in the league. Are they? Is there anyone they need to pick up to ensure that crown?

The Nuggets players talked about this very issue during training camp. They believe they are the tattoo kings of the NBA. Kenyon Martin arrived with his classy neck kiss lip tattoo, Chris “Birdman” Andersen now has wings tattooed under his arms. I am sure Carmelo and J.R. Smith had some new ink done, but good luck finding it.

Unfortunately, the front office made a big tattoo mistake acquiring the plain wrapper Chauncey Billups for the inked up Allen Iverson. If they want to make sure they hold onto the most tattooed team in the NBA title I think they need to bring in Stephen Jackson. His praying hands holding a gun tat would put them over the top.

Keys To The Game: I think Jeremy gave us just about everything we need to know — the Lakers can run on the Nuggets and should push the pace. When that is not there, some Kobe/Gasol pick-and-roll at key moments would lead to mismatches and baskets. Those two things should get the Lakers the points they need.

The Nuggets defense is predicated on steals and blocks (they lead the league in both per game). You can turn that aggressiveness against a team with back-cuts and interior passing, something we can hope to see tonight.

Last meeting the Nuggets decided Kobe was not going to beat him — they threw hard doubles at Kobe early and way out on the wing. They wanted the ball out of his hands. If he passes out of that and the rest of the Lakers move and pass, again that aggressiveness can be turned into easy baskets for other Lakers.

Normally I’d be talking about the second game of a back-to-back, but the only person who should be tired is Adam Morrison, who is not used to that much run. The rest of the Lakers should be fine.

Where you can watch: 6 p.m. start, with KCAL 9 here in LA having the game. Which means John Ireland and his hair.

Kurt

Posts

232 responses to Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. George Karl suggested that bit about Bynum as well…

    I wonder if his opinion is colored by his experience coaching Iverson and Anthony? Although, I suspect it is his coaching of Iverson and Anthony that colors his opinion.

    Of course, of course, of course you always want as many good players on your team as possible.

    It is one of the competitive reasons professional leagues have salary caps…

  2. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to a must read article by Bill Simmons about the NBA’s financial situation:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090227

    Absolutely sobering.

  3. Yeah, TrueHoop ran a post on Karl’s comments and the possibility of the Lakers being better without Drew. Check it out here.

    Also, I miss the pregame hugs from George and Coby. Those were good times. I wonder how son of George is doing anyway…

  4. The nuggets are missing the injured Nene Hilario. Without him, they lose a low post presence who cleans up the boards and scores at a very high percentage. Gasol should be able to dominate the paint.

  5. I think everybody (including Phil Jackson) knows the Lakers are better off offensively in today’s NBA of a more European style 4-man. I thought the decision for LO to come off the bench was more a psychological one, as Drew is probably more mentally fragile. He scoffed at the notion of coming off the bench when asked about the possibility.
    I hope the injury to Bynum as well as the flow and cohesion we’ve developed as of late will be a good excuse to put Bynum in a 6th man role. Minutes of Gasol-LO pair should be maximized, while Bynum could be used as an offensive anchor that bench players, who can’t create on their own, can play off of.

  6. I agree that having Drew be the first man off the bench might make a lot of sense with the current Laker roster. The 2nd unit, while playing a more helter-skelter get out and run style, really struggles when it’s forced to slow things down and run the triangle in the half court. Having Drew anchor the post with the 2nd team would allow them to feed him down low where he can score against his man or kick out to open shooters. Pairing LO with the 2nd unit doesn’t seem to mesh his talents nearly as well as Drew’s would.

  7. Looks like my prediction that the lakers would score over 350 points during this 3 game stretch (PHX-DEN-PHX) is in good shape. Its probably too much to ask for them to hit 400, but we can dream, right?

  8. Farmar giving up shaving for Lent? isn’t he Jewish?

  9. I believe the Bynum chatter was spurred on by my comments….that wasn’t my intention, just an observation after seeing how confident everyone looks playing in the triangle offense.

    After thinking about it a little more, I still believe the Lakers are better without Bynum – in the regular season. During the grind-out 82 game season with 6 and 7 game roadies and back-to-backs….the game is tailored to a more fluid offensive game.

    In the post-season, the game slows down and there are no back to backs. The officials tend to call the game differently and the half-court offense dominates. That’s where the Lakers are better WITH Bynum anchoring the middle. His defensive presence is what the team missed in the Boston series which would allow the other 4 players to defend their men with more confidence.

  10. One of my recurring points over the past few weeks is how Drew should play with the 2nd unit when he returns. Those guys might actually run more with him in the lineup. Why? Because you can’t run if you’re always taking the ball out of the net. His presence will result in more fast breaks after blocked shots ad more fast breaks after missed shots due to his intimidation. Andrew is also a very effective trailer on the secondary break. He and Farmar play very well together.

    In the half-court offense, his presence will greatly help the 2nd unit, more so than either Pau or Lamar. He is much more vocal at demanding the ball than Pau, and his strength when compared to the opposition’s backup center will result in better position close to the basket. This will force more double teams, giving Sasha, Trevor, and Jordan much more time to hit their threes. I think one of the reasons for Sasha’s lower FG percentage is that he has less room to operate, and his shot appears to be more rushed.

  11. When Bynum comes back, I think we need to understand that all three of LO, Gasol, and Bynum are going to see significant minutes with the second unit. This will lead to better offensive execution as we’ll consistently have a good post player on the court with the Farmar/Sasha/Ariza group. Not to knock Powell, but it’s when he enters the game for Gasol and is paired with Odom where we struggle in the half court. Powell is a very solid contributor, but he’s in the Horace Grant mold and Odom is in the Toni Kukoc mold and with those two as our PF/C combo we lack the post scoring to make our offense work at its best (especially since we don’t have that strong post up guard like MJ or our own Kobe for those guys to play off of on that 2nd unit). Powell’s game is much more suited to our first unit where he can shoot the mid-range jumper playing off of a good post player or run the pick and pop with Kobe where #24 draws defenders and Powell is given space to shoot his mid-range jumper. Powell also excels at crashing the offensive glass on the weakside when Pau or Kobe are dominating the action on the strong side. I think it’s why we’ve seen some very good games from Powell when he’s subbed in for LO and gotten good minutes with the players on the first team (for example when he’s on the court with Fish, Kobe, Ariza, and Gasol).

    Getting back to my original point, I think our second unit is going to be much more effective in the half-court when they have a combo of Gasol or Bynum at Center and LO at PF. But in the meantime, Phil mentioned that he may play Luke more with the second unit to inspire more ball and player movement in the halfcourt. So, we’ll see.

  12. 12-
    I was thinking the same thing about Powell. Once he gets a complete understanding of the triangle he can be perfect for that midrange jumper. He just needs to realize when to hit those certain spots where he can be free to unleash those midrange jumpers.

    A game that comes to mind is that thrilling Spurs game. When Kobe and Powell were running that pick and pops and Powell knocked down the shots Kobe created. Hopefully he can learns his spots, and the Lakers can feel comfortable finding him in those spots. With a nice low level contract I hope we can retain him so he can develop with the team.

    With the Nuggets doubling Kobe early last game, I look for an easy win with Kobe scoring under 23 points and doling out 7 assists.

  13. ack didn’t spot check…sorry

  14. Why do I get the feeling Starbury would be able to overpower Farmar if they ever match-up in the Finals? I don’t like that feeling.

  15. Coby needs to work on this aspect of his game: “Hola, me llamo Coby Karl.
    !Soy el hijo de George!”

    Yes, Farmar is half-Jewish, probably reformed or non-practicing based on his ink (reformed doesn’t frown on tattoos).

    Sam Cassell is still under contract to our cross-town rivals, we are not alien-free yet.

    Boogie- Watching Farmar play D since his injury gives me some relief. He is more likely now to give up the 20 footer versus overplay and give up a lay-up. Let Starbury shoot away.

  16. Regarding Starbury – when is it ever a good idea to let a crazy person into your life? Would you want to date or marry a psycho? Would you want one for a roommate? For a business partner? For a boss? Me neither.

  17. 1- i think george karl tries to bring in a little controversy by saying lakers are better without bynum. he knows that the nuggets will have a really hard time tonight, maybe he just wants to distract l.a. a bit. doesnt work and i hope it will backfire for him.

    2 -the simmons article scared me a lot! if it is true we will see a whole different nba in the not so far future. not to mention his hints about the nhl, that freaks me out a bit.

    this economy crisis is some hard stuff to swallow. things are not looking good – all around the world. the major german basketball league – called bbl – actually has a case of bankruptcy (paderborn baskets) and another team on the verge of it.

    thank god we all have the beautiful game of basketball to amuse us, huh?

    lets stomp the nuggets tonight!

  18. 17. would I date and would I marry a crazy woman are two different questions. would I date a hot but scary woman? yea if I thought the outcome worked for me.

    Marry? No. but are the celtsdating or gettiing married?

  19. #12 So by your comparisons does that make Gasol or Bynum our very own Luc Longley? :)

    #17 Garnett is clearly clinically insane that seemed to work out for them last year. Granted I think Garnett is a good insane like the good Hodgkins. (Curb Your Enthusiasm reference BOOM)

  20. #17,
    When it’s our enemies doing it? ;)

    I think the Celtics might be just a little bit too impressed with their own great team chemistry and their ability to over come anything together. Marbury is a very talented player, yes, and if he can keep his ego and antics under control he will be a great addition to any team.

    The key word there is “if”, and I don’t think he can.

  21. dummies…

    we actually have 3 other players who can create off the dribble the now all-around Trevor Ariza, also Pau on the block and Shannon Brown?

  22. Ah… the days of Dennis Rodman come springing back into my head… we can only hope.

  23. #20. It’s blasphemy to even mention the names of current players along side that great, great Aussie. All joking aside though, if we had a Longley (or Vlade or Brad Miller) type of player (for our 2nd unit) who was a strong passer from the mid/high post, we probably wouldn’t struggle in the half court as much just because it would keep our offense humming when our primary scorers (Kobe, Gasol) are out of the game. Because when that’s the case we would still have the motion of our offense creating good looks for the guys. The players I mentioned may not be strong offensive threats on the block, but they were (are in Miller’s case) strong passers with high IQ that know how to make plays for others. It’s why I think our second unit will be stronger when Bynum comes back (regardless on who starts or who is the sixth man) because we’ll always have a post player that work the defense. And if Bynum becomes more comfortable passing out of the post (which I anticipate he will as he continues to score easily and has to deal with double teams where passing is *forced* on him) then we’ll consistently have a passing threat in the hub of the Triangle.

  24. but i definitely like this Lakers line-up because its more fast paced and on defense they’re a little bit more faster on the rotation when they had Andrew Bynum in the line-up.

    expect the Lakers to have Andrew Bynum come off the bench playoff time which will make more difference because Lamar makes the triangle go and he can definitely push the ball in transition.

    Bynum on the other hand can make a difference w/ the Bench mob he too can also run the floor and would dominate opposing defenses because he can command a double-team which will open up for Trevor, Sasha and Jordan on the perimeter.

    And we have a #24 on the team to close things out.

  25. btw: marbury is now officially signed by the celtics.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3939352
    let´s see how it works out.

    i doubt that he will be quiet on the bench for very long. he has got those hiccups in his brain. he wants to be starbury! if there is any player in the league who is more concerned about his stats and making clear that he is the man, its marbury. he will do no good for them, i just dont believe in him any more.
    i liked him as a wolve, even bought his jersey, but he screwed everything after that.
    that guy is going to change the way rondo and house see themselfes and how they act on the floor. he is not a team player.

  26. plus he cant shoot the three very well, is a rather mediocre defender and needs the ball to be somewhat efficient.

    sorry for the double post.

  27. checked out the simmons article. didn’t see anything crazy; it basically just tells me that everyone in the league is overpaid, but i already knew that. greedy players asking for a lot of money from greedy owners and a greedy association asking for a lot of money from you and me.

    and am i the only one that has a hard time feeling sorry for someone who lives paycheck to paycheck making $8-$10 million a yr? it’s a doable thing, i think, if you can manage to stay away from an insane level of conspicuous consumption. dude, those guys even get per diem when they’re on the road!! sorry, no pity at all.

  28. I just looked at the remaining schedule for the Lakers, and other than a 4 game stretch of Portland, Houston, San Antonio (back-to-back), Dallas, it is surprisingly devoid of talented opposition. Sure there is and isolated game or two with Utah and Denver but no murderous back-to-backs. This is making me feel very good about the teams ability to win more than 67 games.

  29. not to keep on harping about Farmar’s facial hair, but i couldn’t help but notice that he had pretty significant growth after only 1 day of Lent. If you extrapolate his current beard length by 39 more days, he’s gonna look like the Unabomber or something by the end…

  30. Sean P.,

    Here’s the best part of Simmons’ article:

    “And by the way, nobody loves basketball more than me. I mean, NOBODY. But when an NBA player with two years remaining on his contract for a total of $44 million shows up for the season out of shape, complains most of the year, lets down his teammates and fans again and again, lands in some trade rumors and decides, “Instead of getting traded to a team I don’t like, I’m going to announce that I’m getting microfracture surgery four days before the trade deadline and kill any potential trade, and even better, I’ll be healed by next spring, just in time to showcase myself for another contract,” and successfully pulls this off — with no repercussions from anybody — then yes, the system is broken and needs to be fixed. Because that was disgusting. Tracy McGrady, you are officially indefensible for the rest of eternity. Even your cousin Vince wouldn’t have done that. And that’s saying something.”

    I’m glad someone printed that. Bill can be frustrating at times, but sometimes he’s dead on.

  31. 19- According to most accounts, he is dating them so as to show that he could be a viable spouse to somebody next year…

    I think the analogy may have broken down somewhere in there.

  32. Great stuff on the lakers with and without bynum…and Darius, your point makes me think of a question I had all throughout the first half of the season before Bynum went down: Why not play LO at the 3, playing him, pau, and bynum at the same time? They never tried that ONE time this season. I didn’t watch the preseason, but I could not believe they never tried it in the regular season. Darius, Kurt…any thoughts?

  33. #32,
    It’s his previous failed three marriages. And the fact the ex-wives claims he was being a bit abusive before he left them… ;)

    I like this analogy. It’s disturbingly insightful.

  34. I think a line-up with Pau, LO, AB17 would be way too long but i don’t see it not working, it would be good especially on the glass(i can just imaginge how much they would dominate…)nvm that but on offense it might be a step slow but LO can run the break as good as anyone in the league at any position.

    This time around the season I think Phil is sticking to his plan from the getgo which is not adjust to other team’s gameplan which has been working the past couple years, balance.

    Lakers for them to succeed this season its a matter of getting stops on the other end of the floor. Nobody in the league can score like the Lakers can on opposing defenses.

    Key Player to watch: Jordan Farmar

    He’s important to keep due to the fact that he’s capable of making plays which Derek Fisher cannot do. Fish is clutch and plays a significant role for the squad. Jordan Farmar is an all-around PG ‘do-it-all’ he can defend shoot and penetrate with ease. Taking pressure of D-Fish while he’s on the bench.

  35. The thought of the other Celtics having to deal with all the extra interviews due to Marbury’s arrival makes me smile…almost as wide as their loss to the Clippers. However, I believe this smile, while less wide, will be sustained over a much longer period of time, as the hair on the other C’s players gradually falls out due to the circus atmosphere.

  36. #33. Jesse,
    I think Phil’s decision to play LO at the PF and not the SF really comes down to him wanting to find the right role for everybody in order to maximize both the individual and team performance.

    When I look at the roster (pre-trade of RadMan), I saw a roster that had 3 quality (but slightly flawed) SF’s that could contribute in different ways that helped the team win. I also saw a player (Odom) who had excelled as a PF in past seasons (helping us reach the Finals from that position). We then see an emerging young Center (Bynum) and a super skilled big man (Gasol) whose game is perfectly constructed to play the Triangle (aka Triple Post) offense.

    So, in essence, I saw a roster that needed to be shaped and molded in a manner where all these quality players could be put into balance and used in a manner where all their contributions could be maximized. To start the season, that meant starting Bynum and Gasol in order to solidify our defense and rebounding while also giving us our post up options for our strong and weakside offensive sets. And at SF, it meant starting our shooting/floor stretching option in order to give those post options space while also maximizing Kobe’s ability to create open shots for our other wing players. This left Odom out of the loop at SF. However, Phil also envisioned a front court rotation where none of our Big players would play more than 32-35 minutes, and Odom was going to be a key player in that minutes allocation as we do not have another PF capable of meshing his game so cleanly and at as high a level (while also being so malleable) where he compliments both Bynum and Gasol. So, Odom found his role as the main back up big man and also the big that would close out games.

    As RadMan booked his reservations in Phil’s doghouse and Luke became the starting SF (for reasons that included better ball and player movement and more dependable execution both mentally and in terms of our full range of offensive sets), that would have been the moment where Phil could have decided that LO should start to see some minutes at SF, but his role as the backup PF and closing player meant that Phil would let Luke get comfy as the starting SF and continue to have Ariza be the spark off the bench and defensive wing that would compliment Kobe and (sometimes) close out games at SF.

    In the end, this explanation is maybe long, but the gist of my point is this: Phil found roles that maximized the strenght of the *team*, not just the starting 5 or the second unit as separate groups, but how those groups would blend together and how they would build on eachother. To me, it’s why Odom was the *bridge* player between those units, usually coming in before the other subs to play with the starters and then staying in the game when the rest of the bench came into the game.

    One more point on Odom: At the begining of the season, I was a person that thought Odom as the SF could work. I thought this for a variety of reasons (he could play on the weakside of the offense and still pair with Gasol, he could still cut and finish inside, he would rebound well and defend bigger SF’s, he would provide the extra ball handler that we need in the starting group, etc). However, after seeing LO more and more (especially in a role where he was successful) what I realize is that he is a player that is best using his physical skills (length, quickness, reading the gaps in the defense like a great TE in football) to take advantage of other PF’s that do not have the same skill set or instincts to perform against him. He has this ability to drive against even the best and quickest PF’s (like KG) and also has the ability to move inside to receive passes when most other bigs don’t move the same way and either can’t stop him or aren’t used to guarding someone that moves like this. This is what makes him effective. If he was playing SF, this would take away some of this effectiveness by 1)putting him in a line up with two other bigs that clogged the lane, which would limit drives to the basket and 2) matching him up with SF’s who *are* used to guarding players that move and play this style game. (On a side note, this is why it’s best to guard players like LO or Dirk with SF’s who are quick but still physical enough to contain the way they move. Most PF’s just can’t do it consistently because as PF’s, Dirk and LO don’t move like PF’s. They move like SF’s in PF bodies.) Sorry for the dissertation.

  37. We have to understand that Lamar Odom is moving without the ball exceptionally well since AB17 injury. Now as I pay more attention to LO these past games i’ve noticed just how well his vision is on offense.

    He’s been efficient handling the ball, moving without the ball, he can post, he can shoot, offensive boards. His activity makes this Laker team go from the start.

  38. who’s gonna guard Starbury if the Lakers meet the Celts in the Finals? It can’t be Fisher and Farmar is not strong enough. Sasha??

    Also, I’m a little scared of anyone on the Lakers guarding Chauncey Billups tonight or in the playoffs.

    Big guards hurt this team.

  39. the celtic announcers complain about the refs as much as the celtics fans

  40. Darius, thanks for the comment, kinda cleared up some stuff in my mind about the issue, in fact the last few days this blog has been greater than normal, whatever I mean by that.

    Go Lakers tonight.

  41. Losta stuff to chew on today:

    1. BS’s post: he couldn’t write a piece without mentioning the Lakers and how they benefitted from bad officiating against the Celtics. Nice. Now I look forward to seeing him deal with Stephon. Hah.

    2. Stephon to C’s: it’s dating with marriage in mind. Scary stuff, considering he may be in his best behavior until you pop the question, and revert to his psychotic self afterwards. Best case scenario? He does his best, blends in, still loses to the Lakers/Cavs, C’s sign him on for longer, he becomes cancer again.

    3. Better off without Bynum? How can you be better off with somebody who isn’t a cancer, and who can give you a double double? But I think we are better with him coming off the bench. Kobe is more likely to be in a team-mode when everything flows. When he sees 1-1’s that he’s not part of, he’s antsy.

    4. Lamar – I’m just worried that he may be playing himself out of our team. Even in bad economies there is money out there for a great player. He was good, now he’s inching closer to great territory.

    5. 2nd unit leadership – we’re seeing both Pau and Odom take turns leading the 2nd group, which makes me want to pick PJ’s brain. Is that because he sees Bynum returning, or the other way around? He definitely doesn’t want Kobe leading the second group, because we know what that would look like (and honestly I think the whole point of the 2nd group is to give Kobe rest) but he probably wants more out of that group and obviously thinks half-court is a big problem (hence the starting big there). I kinda think it’s also about making Odom and Gasol more vocal so that they’ll demand the ball even when they’re playing with Kobe.

    6. Stephon vs. Jordan: not a matchup I like, but will be fun because that will bring the Starbury out of Marbury. And not something I’d lose sleep over if we get Bynum back to cover for Jordan.

  42. Cheryl Miller is cracking me up.

  43. I’m flipping back and forth between the Laker game and the Celtics game (curious about how Marbury will work out), and those yellow Pacers jerseys are really confusing. In a quick glimpse they look a little too similar to the Laker home jerseys, and it throws me off.

    Lamar needs to wait at least half a quarter before he spikes the ball like that. No point getting a technical in the first five minutes.

  44. Oh joy, Denver Nuggets commentators. These guys whine about the refs on every other possession.

  45. Darius: PLEASE don’t apologize. I love it. your info and analysis is EXCELLENT.

    My one counterpoint would be that pre bynum’s injury, I felt Odom was fighting Andrew for those clutch minutes, with Pau always on the floor. And with good reason, Pau should play crunch time no matter what. The only problem is that if I had to pick two guys who are most negatively affected by lack of playing time in the crunch…it’s those two. They’re sensitive, and whichever sat in a close game was obviously mopy about it. So the fact that because they never tried it earlier, they never had the flexibility to do it in crunchtime.

    This blog has quickly ascended from a once in a while check to a bookmark and refresh. to all those involved: please keep up the fantastic work

  46. I know I am probably biased in favor of the Laker announcers, but if there is someone here rooting for another team, please tell me our home announcers don’t come across like this to you? That would just be embarrassing.

  47. man this could be a long game with all these fouls

  48. okay, those announcers are unbearable. this feed is a bit worse, but no denver announcers:
    http://www.justin.tv/ll_rudy_ll

  49. The Simmons article was awful, IMO, because if Bill Simmons isn’t funny, he doesn’t write anything worth reading.

    What people fail to realize is Simmons is primarily a comedy writer who watched a ton of basketball, mainly because he gets paid to do so. His insight or analysis is mediocre at best; he is simply an ordinary fan who because of his comedy and writing talent, is given a platform to voice his opinions. Is he right about many things? Of course. It’d be sad if a guy that watches that much basketball was anything less. But in terms of true analysis and insight, you get a ton more on blogs or even from some of the other ESPN heads.

    The officiating part of his article really irritated me. If I want to hear the rantings of a pre-pubescent girl, I’ll read Cosmo. The officiating has been this way for years. Grow up and deal with it. Write some real basketball analysis instead of complaining.

  50. nevermind, looks like it’s already down.

  51. Yeah, the Denver announcers are among the worst in the league.

  52. At least the Portland announcers are so over the top they become a self parody. These guys are just annoying.

  53. sometimes, luke does simply suck

  54. That was the greatest quarter of basketball I’ve ever witnessed.

    PS- I have the same condition as that guy from Memento

  55. 46

    The Lakers’ commentators are probably the least biased in the league. I’d say the teams with the biggest homers are Denver, Boston, and Portland.

  56. That last comment was directed at Mimsy.

  57. Marbury 4-5 FG, 2 assists and a steal in 10 minutes. Of course you can’t take anything from one game, and I’m sure even Marbury will be on his best behavior for a few weeks at least. And he was probably playing in garbage time. But he appears in better shape than most would be after not playing for so long.

    The Reed/Darius comments were excellent. It’s a hard call to make. I think they were 100% right, we’re a much smoother and comfortable team with Pau and Lamar, who play extremely well off each other and complement each other. And against most teams that lineup is sufficient. Against penetrating PGs or teams with big bangers, Bynum’s absence becomes a factor. Against Boston (with Rondo and Perkins), a Lakers team with Bynum is much better than without.

    Out of the 3 big men, Pau and Lamar are the most talented and complement each other better than any other combination. But simply because of his size and ability to protect the paint in ways the other two can’t, Bynum’s value is enhanced, even if Pau and Lamar seem to be better individual players.

  58. this is starting to get boring, the bench’s inability to get half break points

  59. Once again, the second unit can’t create a good look to get into heaven most of the time.

  60. 0 points, 4 TOs, 4 OFS, 2 Blocked attempts. Another inspired effort by the Laker bench.

  61. 5 tos, 5 pfs

  62. Joel,
    Could not agree more on the Portland and Boston announcers. (Boston especially is very hostile to visiting teams… the Portland ones are just stupid.) It bothers me because it is so very unprofessional. Of course they support their own team and want to cheer them on, but do it on your own time, not when you’re at work and your job is to call the game.

    I enjoy listening to the Laker announcers, so I’m glad it’s not just because I agree with them.

    Currently watching the game on “mute”… as an extra bonus, it also makes the commercials tolerable.

  63. i love sasha but he is giving us absolutely nothing

  64. I’ve noticed the Denver commentators are no longer complaining about the officiating…

  65. 64

    Believe it or not, my mute button is not working. :(

  66. Why is Sasha completely unable to play with Farmar this year? As soon as Farmar went out, Sasha’s game returned to last year’s form, and as soon as he came back, he started slumping again.

    The thing that confuses me is that they played together for long stretches last year, extremely effectively. I don’t get why he’s struggling with that this year.

  67. Lakers are shooting 25%. Maybe the first annual Team Bar Hop last night was a mistake.

  68. My mute button isn’t normally an option, but my husband is out tonight so I get to be in charge of the remote. :)

    I don’t like the way our bench is moving on the floor… they don’t seem to have any focus. They know what they want to get done, they just can’t seem to agree on how to do it.

  69. I cant help but think George Karls statement about the Lakers being better without Bynum got into the players head. I mean thats the only way i can explain thier uninspired play. The wide open threes doesnt exemplify good defense. Way to go Karl, you channelled your inner PJ

  70. Looks like this game is on Kobe’s back.

  71. Lakergirl, they just look completely exhausted. Nobody but Kobe is moving their feet with any purpose or focus. It looks like they haven’t slept, not that anything went to their heads.

  72. Someday, the internet will be equally viable to TV for watching sports.

    That will be a great, great day. Especially for us poor souls that are out of the loop due to our distance from “civilization”.

  73. 68

    I’m not sure Sasha was really THAT much more effective when Farmar was out. His shot has been off all season, and let’s face it, if he’s not hitting jumpers he doesn’t do much else to help the team.

    What I find odd is the fact that both Farmar and Sasha have regressed from last season. I don’t know if their individual struggles are feeding into one another, but last night TNT had a graphic showing their production last season vs this season, and the difference was startling.

  74. My link doesn’t work anymore. Does anyone have another link besides the 2 already posted? Those aren’t working either.

  75. There are games where Kobe can try to take over and it disrupts the flow of the offense. Tonight there has been no flow, this is the kind of night where they need him to be that Kobe.

    And, I still think the Nuggets sneak up on teams. Since the Billups deal, this is a much better team, really one that lives in the Utah/New Orleans realm of good but not good enough for a title. But if you come in thinking this is the Nuggets the Lakers swept out of the playoffs last year, you are in for a shock.

  76. Mimsy, I’ve heard people call Joel and Stu out as homers. They seem pretty unbiased to me, though. Stu may be big on the clichés but he always gives credit to the other team when it’s due.

  77. thanks specialm.

  78. I would love to end the half with a one-possession game…

    Yes! Mbenga time!

  79. ALRIGHT! Lakers FG% up to 30!!

  80. If we can get our shooting up to 40% we can crush them!

    I’m now debating un-muting the game so I can hear the announcers suffering…

  81. I don’t know how the Lakers are still in this game. This looks like 2005-7 all over again.

  82. Is anyone watching the Cavs game? Looks like the league has decided they are not going to let Lebron lose two times in a row on national TV. I have not seen such blatant partiality by the refs till now.

  83. well, I think that half went pretty well.

  84. Lakergirl, thats what George Karl does, he likes to cause trouble. Lakers have won without Bynum, though Odom has played out of his mind, can he really do this consistently?

    By the way, We critizise Fisher for his horrible drives to the rim, I think Ariza now has that crown haha

  85. The Denver announcers are saying that Mbenga is 7 feet. And when I looked it up, he’s actually listed as the same height as Gasol.

    That has to be the shortest 7 feet ever.

    Mimsy: Grattis i efterskott=)

  86. i dont think ive ever been so depressed by a half of basketball, not sure if its just that the guys are tired but either way were still in the game, might take some kobe heroics though

  87. I’m going out on a limb and saying the Lakers can’t play much worse in the second half, so down 6 ain’t too bad, everything considered. I hope they have some coffee and fruit in the locker room.

  88. Andreas: Tack! Jag är nu officiellt över trettio :)

    pw:
    I am now, and I’m not entirely sure I see what you’re talking about. Yes, they are cracking down, but it’s hardly the worst display of referee bias ever seen on TV. Anyone else remember when the Heat won the championship? I think some courtside fans got called for fouling Dwayne Wade when they glared at him for too long…

  89. In a game like this, when we have no flow, it’d be really nice to have Bynum.

  90. 90. I was thinking the same thing, if you play that bad and don’t get blown out, you are in position to come back win.

    Okay, at the halftime show, Worthy is “on location” at an Indian casino. The same one that Magic is shilling for. I suppose with sponsorship deals shrinking up league wide you take the money where you can get it. But the whole thing just makes me a little uncomfortable (and I like to gamble now and again).

  91. Well, KCAL-9 has been emphasizing all night how hard it is to play the 2nd game of a back to back in Denver when the first game is on the West Coast. The Lakers left LAX at midnight for a three-hour flight, lost one hour to the time zone difference and landed at the Denver airport after 4:00 AM. The Denver airport is nearly one hour outside of the city, so the team probably didn’t hit their hotel beds until 5:30 or so. When the Spurs had this same situation a couple weeks ago after playing in the Bay Area, Pop simply gave up and didn’t even suit up Duncan, Finley, Parker, or Manu.

  92. I un-muted the announcers, and now I regret that. He wasn’t kicking anyone!

  93. Lakers look lethargic.
    Kind of familiar to the Utah game we played before the ASB?

  94. Mimsy, the link at 78 is the laker broadcast. no need to put up with the denver announcers.

  95. This is why I can’t watch Denver games. You can just sense the commentators (especially Hastings) looking for something to complain about on every possession. It’s extremely irritating.

  96. These announcers are insane and, as is the case with the Celtics’ announcers, the “expert” is by far the worst culprit. More or less every time the Lakers score, he has some complaint about the officiating.

  97. 93- I couls live with players being required to hock Marlboros during post-game interviews pprovided the money goes toward retaining Odom…

    alright, maybe not. But close.

  98. Thanks magic, but that link isn’t working for me for some reason. Also, my big TV gets the HD feed… so I just muted them again :)

  99. Ok, I change my mind – the other one is just as bad. Now he’s claiming Mello’s foot didn’t touch the ball…

  100. I think we can safely say that was the worst kicked ball call in the history of the NBA. Too bad we couldn’t take advantage.

  101. Kobe is forcing the action a bit now. Gasol needs to get more touches in the post.

  102. For the record, I’d like everyone to know that I know of no “Scotts” in my immediate family.

    I finally turned the sound off and the level of relief I experienced was only comparable to actions I don’t feel right speaking about on this board.

  103. Kobe flailing quite dramatically there, was some fun defense.

    Torrid shooting from both teams:
    LA 35.2%, 16.7%, 75%.
    DEN 38.3%, 9.1%(!!), 72.2%

    I think I could make 1-11 from an NBA 3…

  104. “For the record, I’d like everyone to know that I know of no “Scotts” in my immediate family.”

    LOL

  105. Just for the humor in it: My cat (who is keeping my company here on the couch) stops purring when I un-mute the game. When I mute the announcers, she starts purring again.

  106. JD, relief in line of the pregame rituals mentioned by D. Howard?

  107. Mimsy, my cat just looks at me with disdain.

  108. Let’s hope that George Karl doesn’t realize that JR Smith and Chris Anderson are both +14 in about 15 minutes of playing time, and doesn’t play those two during crunch time. It’s amazing, but we can still win this one even with the way we’re playing.

  109. Harold and JD, thanks to you two I now hear Lebron’s voice singing “Time After Time” in my head… and I’m not entirely sure I didn’t prefer listening to the Denver announcers!

  110. Wow, that was a LeBron-esque travel by Billups.

  111. trevor’s worst game as a laker?

  112. This game is uglier than Chris Anderson in the dunk contest.

  113. 109- more or less.

    We all know what the Lakers’ problems are in this game. What’s Denver’s excuse?

  114. Just to get my mind off of this inept performance that will soon turn into too much Kobe:

    Is it legal to inbound the ball using the Ref like players sometimes use their opponents backs?

  115. We did outscore them in that quarter. Barely, but we did. I’m just not entirely sure how we did it, or if we can do it again.

    I still say hat if we could just get out shooting % up, that will give us this game.

  116. Kurt, I hate the fact that they now have to do shows at casinos.

  117. The funniest thing about the denver commentators is they argue about it being a bad call, they see the replay and go oh…

  118. The Lakers are playing terrible, Kobe will need to hit some big shots if they are gonna pull this game out. Denver should win this game, this is a must win game for them if they want to feel they got any shot of beating us in the playoffs.

  119. Joe – The bench is hopeless tonight. Chalk it up as a loss.

  120. Stop! Kobe time! (In other words, time to sit Sasha.)

  121. OMFG, WTH is wrong with the bench??? Whoever said this looks like 2006-7 is right on. This is absolutely pathetic. They don’t even look like they’re expecting anything the do to have a positive result.

  122. There was effort in that last possession at least. This is going to be interesting, let’s see if they start working hard on some form of defense now…

  123. You know it’s gone bad when the team looks like it’s running the offense through DJ Mbenga.

  124. this is embarrasing

  125. Which makes it all the more incomprehensible that Phil just took Lamar out and sent in more bench players… why, Phil, why?

  126. The Lakers cannot buy a basket!

  127. Denver’s announcers are awful.
    “Looks like Gasol got hit in the face.
    Good! Melo on the break with a layup at the other end.”

    It doesn’t help that the Lakers don’t seem to have run any plays on offense for the last 4 or 5 minutes.

  128. can we really go wrong by giving morrison and brown some pt they cant do worse then sahsa and ariza at the mo

  129. Interesting that George Karl says that we’re better without Bynum, then we go out and fail to get a block while the Nuggets get 10 blocks.

  130. I think we can all agree Sasha is not the sharpshooter he was last year. Doug Collins made a point of that and I agree the Lakers need his 3 point shooting to come up a bit

  131. Alternatively, we can let Fisher and Walton play for a little bit…? Just a thought here. Grrr.

    I have no problem losing a game now and then. I do have a problem being humiliated in the process of losing.

  132. Time and time again I find it hard to believe that such J’s actually swish.

  133. Kobe and 4 bench players, PJ is going to absorb the loss to teach a lesson.

  134. … as I type that, Kobe has a ‘thunderous airball.’ or was that a ‘monstrous airball?’

    So thunderous Denver felt compelled to answer it in some way…

    … and as I type that Kobe swishes something again.

    Welcome to Kobeworld.

  135. OK, looks like the rest of this game is going to be 2005-6 Kobe. The rest of these guys are playing like Smush and Kwame.

  136. stop, kobe time!

  137. sorry for the spam but:

    sT- I think PJ has basically left the game to Kobe. He’s gonna force everything his way and see if he can get hot, then put the rest of the starters in when we can go for the kill.

  138. It is amazing how the Lakers have an awesome record, but have never gotten on a long winning streak this year. Every time we get to 6 or 7 we lose.

  139. Where I get confused about the idea of absorbing a loss to teach a lesson is that it is always the same players out there (Farma, Ariza, Sasha), and the loss happening in the same way (no structure, no focus, no shots made). If this teaching method was working, shouldn’t we be seeing results by now?

  140. The bench is shooting 2-17, or 11.8% right now. I know that percentage, because it the identical percentage as our 3 point shooting.

  141. Why does our bench STINK at entry passes???

  142. Sasha is a liability.

  143. sasha is killing us get him out

  144. Joel, I think Phil heard you ;) At last, the starters return…

  145. Lakers couldn’t buy a call in this economy.

  146. I also want to thank Kurt for this blog because the comments in justin.tv chat rooms make me hemorrhage brain matter.

  147. exactly what i’m talking about

  148. That “fast break” was a perfect microcosm for this game.

  149. Kobe is making Denver Nuggets look like the Houston Rockets.

  150. This is one of the worst games I’ve witnessed this season.

    Why does Kobe persist in shooting 26-footers when he hasn’t come close to hitting one all night?

  151. What a perfect night…lose to Denver and a win by Cleveland. Don’t know if this is the time for us to absorb losses to learn lessons.

  152. #152,
    And the rest of our team is doing a very good job of making the Nuggests look like the Boston Celtics when they have a good day…

    This is painful to watch.

  153. they are definitely tired. most of their shots are flat and short.

  154. Also, in hindsight, if I was going to listen to the announcers, I should perhaps not have included the word “birdman” in my drinking game…

  155. Lakers are shooting 30 percent for the night! lolol. Agreed, the bench should be ashamed of themselves…horrible…

  156. I’d feel better if it felt like the Nuggets were doing something special to shut us down, but we don’t seem to be getting to the lane at all. Has anyone (Nene, Martin) been effective against Gasol tonight?

    Everyone except Kobe looks hesistant about shooting from outside, and rightfully so – they can’t buy an outside shot.

  157. Everyone here is panicking. The team is competing hard, they are simply missing shots due to fatigue. The same thing happened right before the All-Star break in Utah after our long road trip, where we had to play the former Sonics at home for one game, then had to play the Jazz the next night. Lose an hour due to travel, play at high elevation without a day off, and the team just barely lost. The way the Lakers compete this season, things could still tighten down the stretch. Anyway, it’s just one game, people.

  158. Wow. Denver has 4 more FGs than us on 13 fewer attempts. That’s nuts.

  159. 4:29 left, so still in the do-able territorry.

    It will just take a few stops and some hard drives to the basket…

  160. These Denver announcers are hard to listen to.

  161. 160, Dude- I’m not panicking, I just can’t believe I’m wasting my friday night watching this when I could have gone out and rented Battlefield Earth or Gigli instead.

  162. The starters haven’t covered themselves in glory either, but the difference in bench production between the two teams is staggering.

  163. Refs lost this one for the Lakers.

  164. shocking performance but the refs havent helped

  165. #166,
    I disagree. The last thing I want to see on this blog for the rest of the night is excuses. We lost this because we missed shots, missed rebounds and because our bench played the way they did back when Smush Parker and Kwame Brown were among our starters. The refs didn’t make this any easier on us, but the loss was not their doing. Absolutely not.

  166. lakers been getting jobbed ever since i started watching midway through the 3rd.

  167. i think sasha’s contract was a complete mistake. He has always been a one trick pony (shooting) and now he cant even do that. He just commits poor fouls.

  168. 164. I can’t believe you would consider watching those two flicks when you could watch Freddy Got Fingered instead.

  169. 160

    It’s one thing for players to be missing shots on the second night of a back-to-back, but the poor play of the bench is a recurring theme. Unless they can get out and run, they struggle to create good looks, and when they do, they’re not hitting them consistently.

  170. On another note, Shaq has 45 points against Toronto tonight. Wow.

  171. Magiclover, the refs had nothing to do with it, the Lakers lost this game for themselves, it would have been just as good if they didnt show up for the game in the first place.

  172. Yeah, blame it on the refs.

  173. Sasha has been nowhere in sight.

  174. We just needed to shoot 35% to have a tie at this moment, but we haven’t done that. No matter how horrible refs are, when you’re shooting 30%, you really can’t blame anybody else.

    Worth nothing is that we’ve had tons more offensive rebounds (thanks to LO and… Kobe) too. But right now, unless we see some really great SEQUENCE of plays…

  175. just what we need sasha

  176. In his defense, Pau has ten rebounds so far, and Josh Powell has five… however, our bench has five points, with two minutes left to play! Five!!

    I’m sorry, but there is no way that is in ANY way acceptable. No way.

  177. Someone said that the Portland announcers are leagues beyond the Denver announcers in terms of ridiculousness…I’m not so sure about that.

  178. Wow, from bad to worse. miss shots and then defend by fouling.

  179. it’s not even worth watching.

  180. I am starting to think that we got one of those career flucky years out of Sasha last year like Luke’s year a couple years ago. If Sasha isn’t going to hit shots then Phil Jackson might have to rethink his rotation…

  181. Denver isn’t even trying on defense now, the game’s in their hands.

  182. 180 – This is sort of like watching a terrible movie and keeping it on because you’re curious to see just how bad it can get.

    Oh you’ve never done that? OK maybe it’s just me.

  183. I don’t blame it on the refs, but they’re not helping our cause. We should be getting blown out, but at least we’re playing d when we’re not getting whistled sT.

    These games happen, but if it is a 7 game series, we would still win.

  184. Mohan:
    Once… I sat through all of Waterworld, and I still wish I hadn’t.

  185. sasha has been awful over the last month.
    170-I’m thinking that as well.

    wow, we stunk! did anyone get any sleep last night?
    denver stunk too, though. for as bad as they were, the refs probably had the best game tonight.

  186. oh well, some day we will have a longer run than 6 or 7. at least the lakers are consistent, consistent in stringing together 7 game runs and then losing it. we’ll have to start on the next one in phoenix.

  187. On a positive note, we shot less than 30% and were still in the game for the most part.

    Anyway, now that we lost our mandatory 1 out of 6~7, I’ll feel much better about our chances against PHX and others.

  188. Okay, there is a lot of beer, and a videogame, in my near future.

    We ended up with a grand total of seven glorious bench points, btw. Good job guys, good job.

  189. Just to illustrate Sasha’s struggles:

    .333 3P% in November
    .436 3P% in December
    .333 3P% in January
    .290 3P% in February

    With exception of a torrid December, he’s been fairly awful from three point range most of the year, especially this month. It’s important to note that last year was an outlier — he suddenly learned how to shoot — but he seems to be regressing to the mean this year. If he was shooting somewhat close to last year’s numbers, then his $5 million contract would be justified, but he’s definitely been fairly awful as a shooter lately. His current 3P% is barely better than Ariza’s.

  190. Mimsy-
    I’m sad to say that I actually sat through 2/3 of Gigli. Waterworld is like Slumdog Millionaire times Lord of the Rings plus The Godfather compared to Gigli.

    ChristianG-
    Did you see Bill Simmons’ article today about the potential demise of the NBA? One of the four reasons he cited in the article was horrendous officiating. It’s disappointing when there are games like tonight that validate something that Simmons says.

  191. our bench had a total of 5 points tonight.. nice depth we have. our bench has been so flat as of late, not providing much but more minutes for the starters.

    tonight was obviously a night where bynum was really missed, he would have been clogging up the paint making sure to stop the layups.

    lots and lots of our shots were short tonight indications that we were tired. jet lag probably.

    i hope we’re up and ready to face the suns on phoenix becuase we’ve still got the best record in the league.

  192. I was kinda joking with my ref comment, to sound like a c’s fan, ut I had fun on this blog tonight anyway…

  193. ChristianG,

    I know you’re frustrated, but “OMG CAPS LOCK” posts aren’t helpful. It’s perfectly fine to be frustrated at the officiating — I certainly am — but we move beyond that and look at what we need to improve on and the fact that this was simply one game. Oh, and Kurt is probably going to remove a good chunk of your comments, so conveying your frustration without all caps is more constructive.

  194. oh and when we cut the lead down to 6 it didnt help that denver got a call EVERY possesion after..

  195. I was just hoping they would score at least 80, I mean when is the kast time a team went a whole season without scoring less than 80 points at least 1 game? Well, not ever gonna happen this year now. Ugly, is a good word to describe this game tonight

  196. yes we need to improve on our overall toughness and play,the lakers didnt play all that well,im not blind….its just that that stop and go,and all the horrible calls…its just time for change its enough is enough,as fans we need to speak out!

  197. Mohan,

    As much as I hate the Celtic loving, brown nosing, Kobe hating Simmons, I agree with him on that article today.

  198. Christian, dont mention the word “toughness” when the Lakers lose or you will get hammered in this forum haha. I know from experience

  199. Somehow I seriously doubt that fans screaming in all-caps on a blog will get any attention at all from anyone in the NBA who can do anything about it. (This is where I would insert a smiley with sarcastically rolling eyes if the blog offered one…)

    The ref were crap. Yes. But we shot 30% and our bench combined for a total of 7 points. That’s not the refs’ fault.

  200. BCR, good look on the stats. I’ve been wondering all season if Sasha is still struggling to adjust after his injury or if he’s just regressing to the mean, as you stated. Sadly, I think you might be right. What’s strange to me is that he’s not just missing shots, his jumper doesn’t even look normal anymore. Sometimes his foundation isn’t set properly, other times it looks like the shot is being released too far away from his body. Maybe he’s losing his confidence and turning back into the 3 p.m. shooter?

  201. I wish everyone would stop complaining about the refs. This is starting to turn into Celticsblog, and that’s not cool. We committed 28 fouls; the Nuggets committed 26. Overall, the game was called pretty tight, but it was, because the ticky-tack fouls went both ways.

    Our whole team looked really tired, so I wouldn’t put too much stock into this performance. Fatigue only really shows through on shooting percentage, and our percentages reflect this. The entire team, not just the bench, quit on this game, and no one player is to blame.

    However, what we can do is take a few things from this game and learn from them:

    1.) Yes, Sasha has shot terribly for the couple weeks, and my prediction that he would break out of his slump was probably derailed by the travel. A lot of our threes were barely hitting the rim, and this doesn’t come from lack of focus, it comes from lack of push from the legs, which we can all chalk up to fatigue.

    2.) Both Pau and Lamar had pretty bad games. Birdman Andersen came in and really gave the Nuggets some energy, which none of our bigs could match. However, we lost a lot of our excellent interior passing today, which we could’ve used to carve up Birdman and his help-happy ways.

    Overall, our team was just tired. Nobody was playing good defense, everyone was shooting terribly. Maybe it was fatigue, or the altitude, or both, but our team was just flat from the beginning and we couldn’t do anything to break out of it.

    Let’s not allow our beloved FB&G to turn into whiner’s club.

  202. sasha’s shot always looked like it was realeased too far from his body,but i guess it was perfectly too far…but now,he just looks totally unsound,shooting-wise,he need to get in the gym and put 1000 proper shots,and take some pointers from the late Pistol,on how to shot a basketball,and hire some of those triainers that kobe had when he came into the league with a less than stellar shot…

  203. Mohan,

    I know, it’s frustrating, but this is a fairly common occurrence among shooters who have a great year and then the wall comes down the following year. What makes it so frustrating is that his shot selection is basically the same as last year — he’s getting the same looks. It’s hard to pass judgment nearly two-thirds through the season, but with the exception of December — which was a light month for us in terms of opponents — he hasn’t shown that he’s just going through a cold spell.

    The most frustrating thing is that we essentially chose Sasha over Ronny in the summer, and Ronny is basically playing up to last year’s level. I love Powell, but there’s a lot of things Ronny does that Powell can’t duplicate — especially the cheerleading. Now, having the gift of foresight is important here, and we weren’t predicting Bynum to go down, but seeing Sasha drop up significantly from last year is depressing.

    I don’t want to speculate, but with Morrison’s fairly significant expiring contract — $7 million off the top of my head — Kupchak might think about packaging Sasha with him if this slump continues through the year, especially if it persists into the playoffs. This summer is a buyer’s market, and we could nail a homer if we’re active.

  204. ya know, I won’t say the refs caused us to lose the game, but they did completly ruin the game by non stop constant whistles, the game never, and I mean never got into any kind of flow, just go from one end- whistle, to the other end-whistle. back and forth, same ol same ol.
    of course, I didn’t agree with most of the calls either, and felt they went against us much of the time.
    but what cost us tonight was that we couldn’t hit a shot, period.

  205. our offense was stagnant tonight, we had 22 more possessions then the nuggets our shots just didnt fall.

    if we had shot even 35% tonight this game would have been in the bag.

  206. So where are all those people saying we’re better without Bynum?

    A game like this tells us that any given night a team can get up their energy level and ride it for a W. The flow of the game was just ragged all night. There was no flow to the offense and b/c the Lakers decided to work outside-in, we looked out of sync. In most cases Kobe senses this lapse of focus and consequently bails us out with a deadly array of jumpers. On this night you see what happens when his shot doesn’t fall.

    Basketball is a funny thing, when a few shots start to swish, it seems like everyone is making buckets. But when bricks start building up, it’s like every shot that hits the basket rims out.

    You saw what happened last night, and with the ying comes the yang. Just one of those things that happens in the course of an 82 game season. We scored what…132 last night, and now 79. That takes us to 105.5, right around our league avg. Now relax and get ready to bounce back against Phoenix.

  207. #47. Jesse,
    I understand the characterization Bynum and Odom were fighting for crunch time minutes. I also understand the feeling that both could be mopy about not being in the game. But I would also say that both players were accepting of their roles (a credit to the players themselves and the coaching of Phil) and that both players were very effective in their opportunities to play in the closing stages of the game. One last thing I would point out is that I’m glad those guys were competitive and would be upset if they were the odd man out in crunch time. That shows me that they are confident in their abilities and think that they can contribute in those situations to help win games. I never sensed one bit of friction between them or towards the coaches, so I am fine with however those minutes play out and trust that the coaches will make the right choices at the right times (for the most part).

  208. Tonight I learned what King Soopers is, that Mimsy has a cat and that the Denver announcers are annoying. Not sure there is much else to take away from this game. There are nights the team is tired, the shots are flat and the game is ugly.

    Re: Sasha. I can tell you that his issues are not the need for coaching or practice — he regularly stays late to practice shooting, he has a good work ethic. But he’s always been a bit streaky, and I think it is tied to confidence in terms of how he is being used and if he is getting the looks he likes. I think when Bynum gets back, and likely at least for the first few games comes off the bench, Sasha will be key because with the defenses having to drop down he should get better looks. A couple fall and suddenly he is on the upswing again. Right now, teams seem to be forcing him to put the ball on the floor more often and it has gotten to his catch-and-shoot head.

  209. the marbury effect isn’t supposed to be like this!no!

  210. mama said there’d be games like this.

    someone said in another thread our vaunted bench was so vaunted b/c we had odom coming off it. I think he was spot on.

  211. wow, i never thought i’d say this in my entire life but chris anderson actually made a difference in a game. this coming from a denver resident. 7 blocked shots is impressive. i think the lakers hesitated going to the rim (with the exception of odom) because of that inside presence. towards the end of the game, i thought the lakers would pull out the win, but they just never got in a rhythm, the fouls just kept coming. it was a difficult game to watch. no one wants to watch free throws for an entire quarter.

  212. Today’s LA Times reports that part of the reason the Lakers got in so late is that they sent Sun Yue on an In-N-Out run before they left and he got lost. That’s . . . completely understandable if you don’t know the area around LAX very well, but still sad. And I can just imagine how much cold cheeseburgers and fries at 2am helped the team recover between games.

  213. One thing I notice about Lamar. He doesn’t have any real deception when he goes to the basket. What this means is that shot blockers can more easily gage their actions. Lamar gets a lot of things blocked when he is facing a large shot blocker – he also shows the ball early with his large, roundhouse delivery to the board.

    I don’t think he will change his shot approach, so he should shoot jumpers or pass unless the path to the basket is wide open – when playing against shot blockers.

  214. the other Stephen February 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    215: HAHAHAHAHA. oh man, that’s the most hilarious news.

  215. i was miffed at how many calls the officials were making. i certainly can’t recall a similarly officiated game where there was a whistle on every possession. I don’t know if the teams were that sloppy or if the refs were just being particularly nit-picky but man, what a dreadful game to watch. I’m with everyone else who wishes they watched Gigli instead. I’m not even mad about the game. We’ll see how the team bounces back tomorrow.

  216. nomuskles, a Laker game can never be bad enough that I wish I had watched Gigli instead. Though it’s funny that Phil said in an interview after the game that he wished they could refund the fans some money…

  217. All I can say about this game is I’m glad I didn’t watch it and got sushi instead. On to the land of the sun.

  218. the fouls off the ball were killer. but the players should have adjusted, the refs were consistent throughout. Consistently making bad calls true, but still.

    ugly game, thank god for farmars last second layup or else the most potent offensive team in laker history would have been responsible for the lowest shooting percentage in franchises history.

  219. lol, if the Lakers end up losing HCA by 1 game, that’ll be a burger run that will live in infamy.

  220. remember that movie Tin Cup? when the character played by Kevin Costner, (I believe), chokes on a drive or whatever, and they say he’s got the … “whatever bug you get when you choke” thing…I can’t remember what it was they said.
    well, anyway, that is what I think happened to Sasha.
    he’s got the “whatever happens when you choke and now it’s in your head, and can’t hit anything” bug.
    like you say Kurt, once he gets back into a rhythm, it could all become a distant memory.
    let’s hope that comes soon, and stays with him.

  221. Knew this game was going to ugly, but not that ugly. In any case, going into Denver and Utah on the second night of a back-t0-back are the hardest games on any NBA schedule. Couple that with the Nuggets being hungry for a win after losing so many times to the Lakers, playing physical even when they were calling fouls and just working maniacally at the defensive end. The Lakers did get a lot of shots where they wanted them but Denver made everything difficult.

    All in all, not too upset about the loss cause they played great defensively despite their offense not clicking, which is something they wouldn’t have done last year. Plus, I had pretty low expectations coming in. Getting in late, playing at that altitude, I’m not really surprised the Lakers missed a lot of shots. Denver just had one of those games that occasionally opponents have. Like the Detroit or New Orleans game where the other team just beat the Lakers. Don’t think they or Denver have many games in them like that (Pistons are probably the best proof of that) but it’s definitely not a concern for me. They played awful, but the effort was there. Teams have had to earn their wins over the Lakers this year.

  222. Bah, sorry for the double post but the one real negative thing that came out of this game is that I’ve given up hope on Sasha turning it around this season. Hopefully doesn’t hurt us too much in the playoffs.

  223. great relieving post Simon. guys the refs did have some bad calls but that should not be magnified. for the past victories now, during postgame, i keep on hearing that word perfection. that won’t be possible. but the lakers are playing to be the complete package and deserving champions at least and that demands consistency, even during bad call nights. no excuses. no bickering. a loss is a loss and to denver, that was a statement game for them. the earned it. we could have played better in the end but that tells me we are not that complete package and worthy champions yet

    on a lighter note, every loss of LA becomes a statement game to the opponent. that’s how every team wants so badly to beat LA. but the lakers got to live with that. besides, our camp won 48 times and lost only 11 times. come playoff time, and by God Bynum get back soon, no excuses no blaming the refs or at least making them culprits of the loss. that’s 48 minutes of calls guys, the home team had their share too.

    so i think the lakers had their share of bad calls themselves. our bench was non-existent. are they remorseful when they play like this? the only guarantee i have is when they get out of the gates and show something the next game. on back to backs, we need them to deliver night in and out. can’t let up come playoff time. that’s what’s a bit frustrating as a fan. i get sometimes why some call our bench overrated. so they’re young and all. but the season won’t forgive you for being young and young and talented at that. sasha needs his mojo back. it’s painful to see him jack up shots now. mbenga has been some good news. jordan is putting up effort but his shots at time look so wild, you know it won’t go in. ariza is on a downside of the season which i know he’ll pick himself up from. i’d think they’d play at another level when marbury and his new (and face this guys) improved bench (though not as good as last year) comes to town.

    now the starters well not so pretty too. defense was good and i think it shows our maturing character as a team. but kobe was simply a jumper-freak last night. sure he was burning them come 2nd quarter but that was it. i can’t imagine this guy kept the lakers floating in the shaq days and during his stint after that by driving hard, mkaing and 1s or trooping to the line. i think he can still do that. last night called for it. instead, he was taking jumper after jumper and maybe the altitude and travel fatigue got into him. our bigs took some horrible shots. lamar put up great rebounding numbers but 4th option scoring options (and man he shouts to get those shots in). pau looked tired. passing was not as crisp. fisher i only noticed in pockets of the game. luke is being an invisible contributor which should no longer be the case.

    so a case of a lot of bad things happening at a bad time against a great team. nothing to be panicky about. lakers prevail and i pray they show, what’s this?, the suns something later. poor suns. thought shaq had 45 (and someone grumbled about it). maybe our defense is just that good.

    but still, WE NEED BYNUM BACK! these showings validate how much we need him. and i won’t hesitate now to use the triple tower strategy. forget clogging, start banging! GO LAKERS!

  224. Mad Game and The Last Season just arrived today via international shipping.

    Which should I read first?

  225. Renato Afonso March 1, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I’m one of those who believes that, with Bynum back and running with the 2nd unit, Sasha will return to being a good 3pt shooter… We just need to wait and see.

  226. You lie Kurt! There is no post! Take the red pill!

  227. 230. Yes there is. Try to refresh.

  228. Thank you. Games aren’t the same without the FB&G previews.