Lakers/Nuggets Game One Chat

Kurt —  May 19, 2009

NBA: APR 09 Nuggets at Lakers
First a couple programming notes — tomorrow at 1 p.m. come by the site for a live chat with myself and Jeremy from Roundball Mining Company as we talk game one and if Nene and Kenyon Martin could win the WWE tag team belt. If you want to get a preview of that chat, check out the NBA podcast today as Jeremy and I go at it (and I think he bests me).

Second, if you haven’t seen this yet, Kurt Rambis had a job interview:

Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis has interviewed with the Philadelphia 76ers for their head-coaching vacancy.

Rambis, 51, met with 76ers President Ed Stefanski at a hotel in Los Angeles on Monday. The Lakers gave the 76ers permission to speak with Rambis.

“I met with Ed and I thought the meeting went well,” Rambis said. “Beyond that, I have no further comment. Right now, I’m focusing on helping the Lakers defeat the Nuggets.”

What should Rambis be focusing on right now? Here’s some suggestions from Bill Bridges.

If I were the Laker coaches, I’d be stressing:

1. Take care of the ball (run the offense). Denver has thrived off turn-over fuelled runs.

2. Pump fake, Pau. Pump fake, Lamar. The Denver bigs are shotblock happy and ripe to be put into foul trouble.

3. If the Lakers get 2 consecutive stops, look for Chauncey on a pull-up 3. Guaranteed.

4. Each and every Denver big has one move, which is a counter move. They take one dribble in one direction and pivot the other way. Its like they got the complete Pete Newell big man camp DVD, except the disc got stuck on the “Counter spin-move” section and in repeat play mode. Play for the counter and take position: charge.

I like Sasha on JR. If Houston was Farmar’s redemption, will Denver be Sasha’s?

And a few final thoughts from Reed:

I think our length on defense is going to make life more difficult for Denver than they think. If Bynum can stay on the court (by both being productive and avoiding foul trouble), we should be able to prevent Denver from really racking up points in the paint, which is the foundation of Denver’s explosive offense. The Nuggets led the league in dunks and were second in points in the paint this year. This led to them placing 7th in eFG%. Add in strong FT shooting and they were 3rd in TS%. However, despite having several high profile perimeter shooters, they are a mediocre to poor outside shooting team. They were 7th worst in the league at 2-point perimeter shots (we were 3rd thanks to strong midrange shooters like Kobe, Pau, etc.), and middle of the pack in 3 point shooting.

It will be difficult to stop Nene, Melo, Martin, etc. from getting good looks inside, but we are well positioned relative to most teams to do so given our length inside. Utah is another team that relies heavily on interior scoring and we were successful the last two years at pushing them out and bothering their close shots with our size. If we can tempt Martin into that horrific midrange shot, keep Nene from dunking, and allow Melo to shoot long 2s (even though he’s admittedly good from there), then I think we can hold down their offense and outscore them 4 out of 7 nights. I’d love to see us force the ball out of the hands of Billups, Melo, and Nene early in the clock so that Martin and Jones are often forced to make a play with the clock running down (like we forced the ball to Brewer and Harping in the Utah series). There will be nights when their shooters are hot and we lose, but the odds and stats say that won’t happen consistently.

I expect Gasol to demolish Martin, Nene to abuse Bynum, and the series to come down to which teams gets more two players impact the game more from each team: Kobe and Odom or Billups and Birdman (whose impact on the game can be monstrous at times and invisible at others — like Lamar…).

Let’s Get It On! And we’re also talking NBA Draft Lottery in this thread.

495 responses to Lakers/Nuggets Game One Chat

  1. Ariza with the play of the game on his steal in 4th Q


  2. MVP of the game: *A*R*I*Z*A*


  3. I knew there was a reason I like Ariza. He always plays with 100% effort, and fights harder than anyone out there, except maybe Kobe… please can we keep him for next year?


  4. The Dude Abides May 19, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I don’t blame the refs for missing the out of bounds call on Billups. It was just his toe, and it’s hard to see when you’re mainly watching the three-point line. What bugs me is the conscious, or subconscious, letting one team play physical because they have a physical reputation, while not letting the other team play the same way because they’re seen as “soft.” At least our guys fought through it and kept attacking the rim in the 4th, and we were finally able to get some calls.


  5. Great focus down the stretch. Both Pau, Fisher and Ariza coming up big.

    And Kobe? What more can be said. You can’t close the game any better than he did in my opinion: Didn’t settle for jumpers, made all his FTs and grabbed that last HUGE board.


  6. Just thought this was interesting

    14-20, 4-5, 7-8, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1blk. 3To, 39pts, 1 tech

    13-28, 2-3, 12-13, 6reb, 4 ast, 1blk, 1TO, 40pts, 1 tech


  7. wow I worked out this morning but I didn’t sweat this much.

    great gutting-it-out win. arizzzzaa! kobeee! pau playing some good defense down the stretch. fish hitting a big 3.

    carmelo is a beast. billups is a stud. it’s going to be a tough tough series.


  8. Coach Karl had a brainfreeze when he had Anthony Carter throw in the ball. Yikes! Good stuff by Ariza though. Gasol came up big in the latter stages of the game. Good game all-around from both sides.


  9. And speaking of Kobe, is it just me, or was he mentioned maybe once in the post-game summary? Seriously. Beyond incompetent journalism.


  10. Kobe passing shaq wth 56 career 30 pt playoff games. Thats impressive considering how dominant Shaq was in the playoffs.


  11. With the way the game was going, I thought I was going to eat my words about us being more mentally tough. But redeemed down the stretch – much better execution. Stops, did what we want on D. Some ridiculous shots by the Nuggets on the road and mostly good defense. Hat’s off to them. Great game.


  12. out is out. the refs just blew the call that’s all.


  13. Granted that neither team played well, but with the free throw discrepancy and our front line inadequacies, I can’t believe we took this game.


  14. Congratulations! You allowed Carmelo to shoot a higher percentage than ever in his career, got nothing in the post, and still won. My prediction is that this is the lowest points output you will get in this series. Judging by playoff results, you will typically win if you score more than 100. The Nuggets don’t have the ability or the desire to keep the score lower.


  15. The Dude Abides May 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    On seeing the replay of the final missed FT, the Nuggs physical play may have cost them JR Smith’s services, if indeed he is truly injured. Andersen shoved Ariza off the entire floor, and while Trevor was sliding, he took JR’s legs out from under him. I hope that injury isn’t nearly as serious as it looked.


  16. people are respecting us on TV

    “Denver played like a challenger, LA played like a champion”


  17. The big difference — 17 Laker offensive boards.


  18. No doubt the Lakers lucked out getting this win tonight. Kinda like last year, they came back and stole game 1 from the spurs and then wiped them out the rest of the way. I guess we will see if this game kills Denver’s soul.


  19. The Dude Abides May 19, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    413. Right, Kurt…the “soft” Lakers killed the “tough” Nuggets on the offensive glass. I think Denver shot its wad as far as road games go. We had Bynum, Odom, and Gasol all in foul trouble for much of the game, we had a FT deficit of 29-11 late in the 3rd quarter, and we still won the game.


  20. Pau played poorly….but came up with a huge block and stepped in and took a huge charge.

    Fish shot the ball terribly…but hit two huge shots, one at the end of the half, one to put us up late in the 4th.

    Ariza got torched by Melo…but came up with a huge steal to seal the game.

    Kobe played a focused game and made all the key shots, but it was great to see these guys all make big plays after struggling.


  21. None of the other playoff games looked like that.Why do they let teams play the Lakers that way? I hate watching wrestling.


  22. part of me thinks we didnt play that well especially in the post but i also think we took all the nuggets could throw at us and overcome, no way melo shoots that well again, i think kobe averages 40 per game in this series


  23. magiclover,
    Not that I doubt your sincerity or anything, but did you watch the Bulls-Celtics? If we’re going to talk about physical games… yes, the Nuggets play hard, but at least they haven’t drawn blood or thrown a Laker player into a table yet.


  24. Good thing we have Home court advantage…


  25. Agreed with others, hope Smith doesn’t have to miss any time. Would dull the edge of a gritty win. Have to think the Nuggets are going to regret the loss, considering they got a homecourt-type free-throw edge on the road and wasted a great effort by Melo.

    It was nice to see the Lakers take the late foul. Hollinger has talked about it ad infinitum, yet you don’t see too many NBA teams make the foul. Wonder if it came from the bench or was something Fisher did on his own.

    Props to Birdman for being an honest yet opposing voice in the thread. With all of the vitriol found on most forums, it’s nice to see friendly conversation.


  26. Mimsy… there wasn’t the holding on every play like tonight.I don’t mind a hard foul now and then but hate the grabbing and slapping every play


  27. When I talked about LeBron and Kobe earlier, I conveniently forgot the other aspect of being clutch.

    Being able to step up in all fronts when the game is on the line. Those 6 free throws, that last rebound… not sure if the Cavs would like to put LeBron, a 70% with the last possession.

    Anyway, my god that was a game, although the only good we can take from this game is that… we can only play better? 😉


  28. I’ll take it.


  29. Kurt,

    I know your opinion of Artest, and I agree that he would be a bad fit for the Lakers. But…Do you think that he could make a difference in this series on Carmelo? Or would you rather deal ith who is available for the Lakers? or even Battier? Just hypothetical conversation.


  30. the Nugs have got to be depressed. they played a great game, jumped out early, (not unlike us sometimes, when we get an early lead, I get nervous, and we clawed our way back into it).
    anyway, the Lakers kept fighting, never quit, even while some questionable calls, or non-calls were happening. we fought back consistently, they even had the lead at 99-98 or there abouts, near the end anyway and we still got the stops and made the FT’s and GOT THE STEAL! (from Trevor)
    so, like someone said earlier, it’s like we stole game 1 tonight, they had us and couldn’t close us out.
    that, has got to be depressing.
    let’s see if we keep our foot on their throat…or let them get back into it on Thursday.
    I hope we get the first 2 here at home, get a split on the road, and close it out in 5.
    what a friggin’ game!
    I’m exhausted!


  31. I’d take Battier in a heartbeat. If that dude retires without a ring it’ll be a crime, because to me he’s the epitome of what a role player is all about. He does everything a championship team needs.

    Artest would give Melo trouble, but he wouldn’t be able to play within the triangle so he’d hurt us on the other end. And he might bite Kobe.


  32. Good game..slow start and solid finish. Surprise right? Not really. As the current underdogs, it was great. One more in LA…then get one in Denver.


  33. Snoopy2006,

    I agree about Battier. The funny thing is that there are so many casual fans in Houston who berate him because he doesn’t score 17 points/game. It just amazes me that they don’t understand the intangibles he beings to the table. There are still a huge amount of Houston fans who complain about the trade for Rudy Gay.


  34. A couple of X’s and O’s points that I noticed…

    1). I mentioned this way up in the thread, but we need to do a better job of marking the Denver bigs in P&R situations. Billups is so good at staying patient and controlling his dribble and their bigs are so much better at finishing when they can get momentum going to the basket that we must adjust to how they’re playing in these situations. Nene and Martin got layups and drew fouls almost every time they ran this action in the first half. Denver also ran the P&R the same way earlier in the season, so we should recognize this. We must do better. Ultimately, I don’t think we should show so hard against Chauncey. I know he’s dangerous shooting off that pick, but I’d almost rather live with Billups shooting a 20 footer than having their bigs attacking the basket full speed.

    2). Phil mentioned this in the post game presser, but we must do a better job at getting the ball into the post. Denver took away our passing angles very well and we were tentative with our passes which led to TO’s and ball reversals instead of post entries. Our bigs need to fight harder to establish position (take a cue from Kobe in this regard big men) and our wings need to be decisive with their passes. As far as some actions that we can run, I think we can start with an empty post on one side and then bring our bigs across the lane to receive the pass; we can start on the strong side and then initiate our offense with a ball reversal to start our motions flowing from one side of the court to the other (not only with the ball but with player movement as well); we can also bring our post man up further to the FT line area and enter the ball to the high post and then run our sets to where the ball gets swung to the opposite side and one of our bigs cuts across the baseline to receive an entry pass. In the end though, we need to be more assertive in making those post entries.


  35. I’m in the Battier group as well, and I think he could cause Melo some problems. He can be more physical than anyone the Lakers have. But Melo i’s sort of like Kobe or LeBron now in that you can slow him but he still gets his.


  36. Battier will hopefully be a coach somewhere in the league some day. A player like him should not be wasted on retirement.


  37. Battier, I’d take. Artest, I’d not.

    Battier is the Bowen type I’d take every time. Capable wing defender who can knock open threes when they’re available.

    Artest is somebody I’d take if I had to gamble. Maybe he’ll have some sort of synergy with Odom, but I think not. I’d probably take half the starting Rockets over Artest.

    As for making a difference in the Denver series, well, you don’t need to stop every player to be successful, so I’m not not really that into that, and on whose place would I take them? Over Morrison, no brainer. Over Walton, likely. Over Odom, not so sure.


  38. PeanutButterSpread May 19, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Cherry on top of this win.

    Kobe Doin’ Work:


  39. Kurt,

    Yeah, but 70 plus percent from Carmelo is unacceptable regardless of the player. That is a percentage that Yao, Shaq, or Howard would be envious of.


  40. la_resistance28 May 19, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    “None of the other playoff games looked like that.Why do they let teams play the Lakers that way? I hate watching wrestling.”

    Cuz the league is getting us ready for when the Lakers, Nuggets, and the WWF square off in Denver next week!


  41. Snoopy…you just made me realize what a perfect Laker Battier would make. The triangle offense would be perfect for him. His perimeter and help defense would be so awesome in our scheme. He would be closest thing to Pippen, though he doesn’t have the playmaking ability or the athleticism. But his intelligence and hustle would be a great addition to our squad. However, there’s no way HOU ever lets him come to our team.


  42. I know that we shouldn’t talk about trades…but if HOU were to accept, would you take Battier for Ariza straight up?

    Who would you rather have right now?

    Although I love what Battier brings, I think Ariza has just too much upside to give up. Plus, what Battier can do, Ariza can do. But what Ariza can do, Battier cannot.


  43. Sorry for the double post. But a couple of other quick observations:

    *I’m not sure why Karl went to Carter in those closing minutes. Van Gundy mentioned this, but Karl says that when they’re winning, they’ll go to Carter because he’s better on D. However, they’re so much worse on offense with him in there and they needed to keep matching buckets in order to maintain their lead. Instead, our D tightened up, we got stops, and then we scored anyway – evaporating their marginal cushion. Kobe was in penetration mode and we got to the FT line and got some real open looks (Ariza and Fish’s threes, especially).

    *Those last fouls by Martin were exactly the type of fouls that we were talking about in the series preview. Martin played with great composure (on offense and defense) for most of the game, but in the closing minutes he pushed and reached for no good reason and it cost them. Nene also struggled with fouls all game. And while the big Brazilian did well with his offense in those aforementioned P&R sets, he was not as active on D and didn’t show well in help situations. If that trend continues, the Nuggs will be in trouble because I’m not sure if they’ll get that same level of offense from Andersen and Martin with the same consistency in the rest of this series. I could be wrong on that, but some of those runners that Martin hit and those Birdman drives seemed a bit lucky to me. And if they’re not scoring AND fouling on D we will control the paint and series.

    *When we do get the ball in the post, we need to be more patient. They got several blocks just because we seemed too eager to shoot when we got close. The paint was a tough place to gain access to in the last series, and we acted like we hadn’t been there in a while by rushing shots against the Nuggets. We need to be more deliberate, ball fake more, and make them either get out of position or foul when we make our moves. Both Bynum and Pau can get good looks against this team – we just need to execute our post entries and then we have to be patient by letting the side clear with our cuts and then go to work.


  44. PB, No way we trade Battier for Ariza. But if we did I would become an outright Lakers fan. Well that may be going a little far, but I would not be happy. Ariza is a solid player, but he can’t play defense like battier, or hit the 3 as consistently as Battier.


  45. you know, it’s funny sometimes to go back and read how angry, upset, PO’d, frustrated, etc we all get.
    one time, we’re all mad at Fish, he’s old, over the hill, can’t hit a shot, can’t stop quick guards, etc.
    then we’re mad at Phil, won’t make adjustments, or call time outs,
    then we’re all mad at Pau, he’s too soft, dissappears on D, etc
    or Kobe, goes into hero mode, and kills our team…
    you get the point –
    so here’s a small clip from tonight’s LA Times…

    That defense led to Carmelo Anthony’s grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring for a 96-92 Nuggets lead.

    Lakers Coach Phil Jackson quickly called a timeout with 3:25 left.

    The Lakers responded with a basket by Bryant, a blocked shot by Pau Gasol on a Nene shot attempt, a three-pointer by Fisher and with Gasol taking a charge on Anthony.

    The Lakers took a 97-96 lead after all that.
    (end of quote)

    so, how about that folks?
    remember that play? Carmelo is the only Nugget under the rim, buts still grabs the offensive board and puts it back in. PJ jumps up with a quick time out. the rest as they say is history, but I find it very interesting that the hero’s of tonight’s game were all blasted at one time or another, even in tonight’s game thread.
    I know, it’s human nature for us fans to gripe.
    but let’s remember, PJ is the leader of this team, and has years of solid experience, it’s been his life, and not sure we can all say that, eh?
    he’s the one who had Fish in tonight, would we have done that? (heck no, we’re ready to kick him off the team)…I could go on, but I think we all get the point.
    patience, faith… be good fans, and… enjoy the ride!


  46. Great Wall,
    I am not surprised there are fans who want Rudy Gay over Battier. Most fans really don’t understand the game, only the ESPN highlights. There are lots of LA fans that want us to trade Bynum because he doesn’t score enough. They have no concept regarding young players or players contributing by providing defense.


  47. Craig W,

    You are absolutely correct!


  48. The Nuggets were really overplaying the passing lanes. We need to backdoor them a few times for a couple easy baskets to dissuade them from overplaying our spots in the TRI.


  49. chris h,

    what that fails to mention is this:

    Fisher was 0-7 or so with 2 turnovers in the first quarter. Change that to two FGs and 1 TO, or at least two less efforts, we’re not in an 8pt hole.

    Kobe did not go hero mode tonight, he went to the line. 12-13, with only 3 attempts or so from the 3. He did get that T so he’s not completely off the hook, but he played as we wished him to play for the most part.

    Gasol, had he made those two FTs or had been more assertive, that block/charge would be routine and a footnote.

    Still, the game is played over four quarters and the series over at least four games. Yes it is not right to sway on each and every play in a game, but considering that this year is our best shot at the title (reasonable assumption), it is reasonable to react after a series of plays.


  50. Another potential move Phil could make is playing Luke and Ariza at the sametime. This could work when Denver is running JR, Melo and Billups at once. I feel Kobe did the best job on Billups and Luke did the best job on Melo. In this scenario, Kobe would be able to guard Billips, Ariza could guard JR and Luke could guard Melo. On offense, Luke could intiate the offense and this would hopefully also help us get the ball in the post


  51. harold, I disagree with you that those end of the game plays were routine, or due to some event earlier in the game, none of that matters, what matters is that these guys are savvy veterans, and they delivered at the end, on both ends of the floor.
    and I wasn’t being critical, this has gone on all year long,(our complaining) just pointing it out that it takes a little faith to get though a game, a series, a season.


  52. ONE THING I NOTICED: With about 45 seconds left in the first half, Fisher took a contested jumper right as Kobe was coming off 2 screens to a wide-open look. ESPN showed the close-up replay of that and showed Kobe yelling towards Fisher as they came back to play D.

    Fast forward 42 seconds … Kobe passes to an open Fisher in the corner and he buries the 3 to give the Lakers a 1 point lead and the momentum going into the locker room.

    We need the second Fisher, not the first. Kobe probably trusts him the most out of many of his teammates and we need him hitting his shots and making good ball decisions.


  53. j. d. hastings May 19, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    I never know what to make of a game like this.

    The playoffs are a relationship, and the first game is only the first date. Often the undercurrents of the game come to define the series more than the final score.

    Moreover, in deeper rounds teams are coming off of previous relationships. In the Laker’s case, they’re coming out of an LTR that ended 2 days ago in a process that caused a lot of introspection.

    Because of those transitions between teams, game 1s can be extremely hard to measure. In the first half of game 1 against the Magic, the Celtics clearly still had a foot in round 1. In hindsight, the magic lead and the Celtic’s comeback predicted much of what followed in the series- including the Magic’s ability to pull it out in the end.

    In the Houston series the Lakers came in fat after they were able to casually dominate the Jazz. It cost them the first game, but the tone of that game was similar to the hard fought 2nd and 3rd games- the result was different, but the relationship was largely the same until yao went down. That then threw the entire relationship out of whack- A new, dysfunctional relationship was defined on the fly.

    So now we come to this game. Which traits in it will come to define the series? The leads Denver got or the Laker resilience? In their previous series Denver played close on road and blew Dallas out at home. Is this close finish proof to them that they can beat the Lakers or does it crawl into their heads and bring doubt?

    Was the Laker ability to get over the hump against a team with a lead a good thing, or was their trouble scoring sign of a greater problem?

    I know the stat about teams who win game 1 winning series, but that’s largely skewed by sweeps and uneven matchups. Right now I’m not sure what this means. I hope for the best, but we can’t really know until game 2 and then we see them change venues.

    But At least we got the win. That’s always the best way to end a first date- in the nba playoffs amyways.


  54. latecomer here, glad to read birdman’s and especially this discussion, Great Wall’s comments. I’d take battier in a heartbeat over artest for reasons already cited. i think ariza can be a battier given time and more effort. their built are about the same and ariza has some hops. he needs to wise up and learn to work around games instead of fading when he doesn’t get his rhythm.

    the lead bloggers of this forum led by kurt, darius and the likes of craig are also a class of their own. they tame the biased fan in me and make me a more rational, discerning and in turn, pumped up fan.

    just some cents: no way melo is scoring like that again. ariza has to man up or somebody else will. the lakers were subpar but as many times before this series we took their strong hit and clawed back. am rather suprised bynum and lamar are not mentioned as much so it just tells me there’s nothing much to say about their games tonight. we expect them with pau to do better in game 2. that said, i like our chances in game 2 and for the fact that kobe can go off like this more often than against houston. but denver is explosive and they too can show up ready to steal one. i don’t think this is the same team that rolled and died in the past. there’s a fire in them and looks like it’s staying.

    wishing jr the best too. he is my death-dealer in 2k9. he has ridiculous range. GO LAKERS!


  55. Hey, Kurt, you see the Sports Guy’s twitter?

    “I enjoyed Kobe Bryant’s prime.”

    On the night the dude scored 40, 18 in the fourth, leading his team to a HUGE win. What the hell was that supposed to mean?

    The funny thing is that he wrote that article about how he doesn’t dislike Kobe, even though he obviously does and has even said it, and doesn’t try to hide it.

    One of the best performances of Kobe’s career tonight. To hell with Kobe haters.


  56. chris, imagine that the game unfolded backwards, and that those plays happened in the beginning of the game and not the end. Do you think their mistakes would be highlighted more, or do you think their heroics (if people even call it that, if they take place earlier in the game) would be highlighted?

    fair or not, they’d be seen more routine.

    and i don’t disagree about the faith thing. but sometimes you wonder if you have to leave it to faith.


  57. Also- I think George Karl noticed Reed’s observation that Pau would demolish Martin and decided to put his best post-defender-Nene, on Pau. Next game we should look to the ball to Drew. At 6’9, Drew should be able to get off a good shot.


  58. kudos to you, birdman. DEN has really improved on their D. it doesn’t bode well for LA but Melo sure played good D on KB, methinks


  59. One thing about Denver’s D. It seems much more physical than Houston’s. Houston uses their feet to get to a spot and their hands to distract and cover people. This is extremely distracting, but doesn’t draw fouls and requires lots and lots of endurance.

    Denver seems to use their arms to push up against people and then their legs to move into another position. This results in much more grabbing and shoving with shoulders. When allowed, we see something like the matchup between Kobe and Melo on ESPN highlights. However, tighter officiating results in fouls. Since this is the playoffs, I doubt fouls will be called as easily, but Denver should have more fouls – on average – than Los Angeles.

    As the less experienced players (Farmar, Ariza, Shannon, and even Pau) go through more of this, they will adjust. This means the Lakers will 1) be less emotional about it, 2) learn to work with it, and 3) be able to refer to this if we get through this series with a win.


  60. Kwame, I agree on the points you’ve made. I think we need to attack Martin on the block. Not only does he lack the size to really contest shots, but he’ll foul. I think we can throw into Bynum, but I also think if we rebound and change ends quickly we can force Martin to stay with Pau in transition and establish Pau on Kenyon that way. I also agree that we should find ways to keep bigger defenders on Billups. Late in the first quarter, Phil went to Sasha before Farmar/WOW and we had our Machine/Kobe/Ariza lineup out there. I think we can go that route too and just have Sasha chase Smith around as he did better on him than I thought he would. Plus if Smith isn’t 100% it may give Sasha a slight edge as he’d no longer be chasing around a much superior athlete (similar to how Phil used him against a hobbled Manu last season in our playoff series against the Spurs). But I think we could try the Luke/Ariza/Kobe lineup as well, although I worry because those are the only guys we have that actually play SF for us. And if all those guys get tired or pick up too many fouls we may mess up our normal rotation just for the sake of experimenting. But I do like your logic.

    On other note, I think we have to force Melo baseline, regardless on what side of the floor he’s on. He showed me that he’s much better going right than left, but regardless of what hand he favors, he’s less dangerous going baseline than when he’s attacking the middle of the court. I also think we need to shade him better as when he’s got the ball at the top of the key. We allowed him to drive parallel to the lane line and draw fouls against Drew way too easily. We need to close the gate on him better and make him string out his dribble more so that the help can actually show and not just careen into him and foul. But man, was he impressive tonight. Such range on his jumper and the ability to shoot with no space – he’s so similar to Kobe in that way…doesn’t even need two inches to get his shot off. And his footwork? He is a special, special scorer. I know I’m gushing right now, but honestly, he can fill it up.


  61. 455. I enjoyed Bill Simmon’s prime.


  62. Kurt,
    I always liked Simmons, but he has hit that stage where a lot of his creativity is gone and he just seems to rehash the same tired storylines and use the same recycled jokes that he’s used for a decade. He’s like that music artist that is trapped in a bad record deal and is just fulfilling his commitment until he can move on to some other label and do the kind of music he really wants to make. I am interested in his book on basketball though. Even though I read that it’s ridiculously long.


  63. This game was easily the best Laker game of the entire playoffs. I am not usually a screaming, yelling, cheering fan when I watch games. I try to be as calm and observant as I can, and usually overly cheering for one side can blind us to obvious observations, such as good foul calls and bad non-calls. This game, however, had a totally different feel to it. This was a game that we had to win; losing this one really would’ve affirmed all of our fears about the Lakers mental intensity and desire to win. Yet, our team pulled it out in the end, with some key stops and some key buckets coming from some unlikely sources.

    Once again, we did a masterful job on the offensive boards. While we could have easily done better, outrebounding them 17-7 on offensive boards won us this game, and for that, we must thank the heavily maligned Pau Gasol. For all the crap we give him for his lack of defensive intensity, he brings it on the offensive boards.

    In the end, it was the little plays that mattered for us. Kobe kicking the ball out to Fisher for three instead of taking a contested jumper gave us a jolt and allowed us to take the lead after trailing for almost the entire game. Pau Gasol rotating and taking the charge on JR Smith which turned a potential three-point play into a Laker possession took firm control of the momentum in the game. And lastly, Lamar Odom getting up in Anthony Carter’s grill and forcing him to throw that high lob to Billups, magnificently stolen by Trevor Ariza, which ultimately won us the game.

    So yea, our guys didn’t play the greatest game; you can tell that from the box score and the comments. But they made the plays when the game was on the line. Despite having only two days to prepare, our coaching staff did an amazing job deciding to stick Kobe on Billups early then switching him on to Melo when Melo got hot. For all the crap we give them about not playing hard, not wanting to win, this team just showed us that they can fight. They can claw. They can scrap with the best of the league and come out standing in the end.


  64. The Dude Abides May 19, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    That was easily the best all-around game I’ve ever seen Melo play. Such a quick release, we knew he was an excellent rebounder, and he played tough D as well. I really like Trevor, but Luke is a better matchup on Melo, who’s simply too strong for Trevor and will get him in foul trouble. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I think Phil should start Luke and let him play about 20-24 minutes in Game 2. It would throw off Denver’s between-game adjustments, and Luke would do a better job at shuttling Melo to the baseline and help from our front line.


  65. well played kurt.

    if the celtics/paul pierce did what the lakers/kobe just did, he would have had an aneurysm and would have written a 150k word column about it.


  66. One other point: Another option for Phil- when LO and Ariza are in the game, Phil may want to try LO on Melo. He can hide Ariza on Martin or Andersen, and if the Nuggets try to make a point of posting those guys up, the Lakers already are smiling. LO may be the best possible option we have on Melo. He is taller and stronger than him and has the length to give him a step to compensate for Melo’s speed advantage.

    Also- one last option. Phil can run the lineup he has never run: Drew, Pau, LO frontcourt. This would allow LO to matchup straight up with Melo.


  67. Game 2 will be a game of adjustments.

    In his post-game interview, PJ credited the Denver for making post-entry passes difficult and cutting off passing angles.

    So, the onus is on the coaching staff to introduce different tactics to get Pau and Drew more & better touches.

    I think the key to game 2 will be how well the Lakers execute these new tactics, and how well Karl and the Nuggets anticipate and/or adjust to these tactics.


  68. With the officiating so biased, it’s fortunate that the Lakers won tonight. This gives me more hope that the officiating will probably favor the Lakers more on Thursday and Lakers pull out an easier win in Game 2.


  69. kurt.. bill bridges was dead money in your/his post.. that sequence where we took the lead on pau’s 2 defensive stops (block + drawing charge).. right after that billups comes down the wings off a pick.. pullup 3.. money.


  70. Watching the replay of the game on ESPN. The lakers were called for at least 3 3-second violations, several traveling violations and once Lamar was called for not being able to cross the half-court in 5 secs. These are pretty ticky-tacky violations and if the NBA started calling them correctly almost every play would be a violation. Also, at least 2 of the so called Nuggets blocks seemed to be golatends to me. The good part is that Lakers did not get boged down by bad officiating. But it still seems pretty fishy to me that the lakers were called for so many of these mnor fouls, whereas in my recollection, the Nuggets were not even called once.


  71. Thanks robinred.

    Actually, I am a basketball fan/purist first before a Nuggets fan.
    I enjoy pure basketball (you heard that refs). That’s basketball based on skill and athleticism combined.

    And though Lebron James shows unearthly athleticism, I’m really not sold out in the idea that he is the best player in the NBA today. I like him, but unlike others, what he does is just one part of the game.
    That’s why I am preaching Kobe even though I’m a Nuggets fan, because as I said, I am a basketball purist first.

    Like someone said in the ESPN NBA Page, if you try and slow-mo Kobe’s moves, you’ll find finesse in his game, skills honed into perfection. I love Kobe because of what he brings in the NBA that only few (really) players can parallel.
    The art of dribbling and moving in such a rhythm as the beat of the bouncing ball.
    The art of defying gravity, changing different moves while suspended in the air is beautiful in my eyes.
    The perfect high-arched shot gently touching the net brings music to my ears.

    That’s why it’s easy to appreciate Kobe’s game despite his faults (everyone has).
    That’s why I hate Kobe as well. He is not on our team.

    But anyways, Game 1 may be devastating to us because of what transpired (mental mistakes turned to missed shots and individual basketball), but I’m confident enough to say this Nuggets will provide a better show in Game 2.

    You can not contain Billups and JR Smith in 2 consecutive bad nights.


  72. Part of the reason this is going to come back and haunt Denver is that all three of our primary bigs (Pau, Lamar, Andrew) all had rather limited nights. Part of it was foul trouble, but we never really established Andrew or Pau on the low block, where they can really hurt Denver. We were taken aback by their aggressive fronting and efforts to wall off the paint, but I foresee efforts to counter that in Game 2, so we’re going to get better nights from them. Bynum also seems to have gotten a bit of his confidence back; even with the fouls, I thought he was fairly effective (although he didn’t get nearly as many touches he should have). As Kurt and many others have indicated previously, Denver has no answer for a confident Bynum, and it will be interesting to see how the frontcourt dynamic plays out.


  73. Hi guys,

    You wouldn’t believe it. Get home to watch the game, saw 3 3/4 qtrs of the game on my DVR, then it stops with 1:12 left to go. DAMN!!!!

    Anyway, he’s my summation of the game.

    Kobe – 13/28. If you look at the box score, that doesn’t look so good. But in all honesty, find me a bad shot in the 28 shots taken. He knew he’d have a mismatch with Jones and Carter, so he took them to the block. We will no doubt see more of this in the series.

    As much as everyone (ok most) were bagging out Fisher, we saw in the second half why Phil stays with him. Second half – 4/6 and hit some BIG shots at much needed times. No more PUJIT though, please.

    Carmelo Anthony was a monster tonight. Absolutely massive. Will he have another game like that, more than likely.

    Two other things I liked. The Lakers bench mob showed up as a unit, finally. Sasha showed great hussle, Luke made some great passes, even J Powell was good in his limited minutes. We need this off the bench to either extend leads or catch up (as was the case tonight). I was also pleased with Bynums effort. He got caught out on the weakside rotation during the pick and rolls and that’s where most of his fouls came from.

    The other good thing was the defense on Billups. We can probably like with Carmelo having big nights, can’t afford both Carmelo and Billups to have big ones. I think Kobe has more chance of shutting down Billups and being a force offensively than playing Carmelo all night and being as good offensively.

    One bad point for the Lakers was P&R defense. It wasn’t bad, it was horrible. Were the Lakers instructed to double Billups on the P&R and rotate? Looks like it, but thats a horrible mistake. We haven’t rotated well on P&R all year, so why not just straight swap. If they run the P&R with Nene, play Pau on the pick, allowing Bynum to prepare himself for a Billups penetration with someone following. Allowing Nene 14 points on mainly dunks is disgraceful.

    So, lets be honest. The Lakers started slow and let Nene dunk 3 (or two) times in the opening 8 minutes. The Nuggets fronting Bynum and Pau is not something they’re used to seeing. Kenyon Martin hit nearly every outside shot I saw him put up which won’t happen again.

    The Lakers will make the necessary adjustments and come out in Game 2 looking a lot better than they did tonight. I honestly think the Nuggets gave close to their best shot tonight and still fell short.

    After seeing this game (finally, I saw a game!), Lakers in 5 for me.


  74. He is the great wall for NBA Sports.


  75. As strange as this sounds, I think this is a perfect game to get Kobe’s confidence back.

    He had been a bit tentative towards the end of the Houston series, as the constant pressure from Battier & Co. was beginning to wear him down.

    18 points in the 4th, some key assists and tough defense on Melo all lead me to think that Kobe has found his pace again, and has decided “14 games left, at most. I can play hard the whole way through.”

    You cannot overstate how tough Kobe is.

    Great game to watch.


  76. “It was a lot of fun, he’s a bull down there,” Bryant said. “I am a little out of my weight class, but I’ll give it my best shot.”

    That’s one of the amazing things about Kobe. We treat all “wings” like they’re interchangeable, but Lebron and Melo are truly forwards. Kobe doesn’t have the strength or length to deal with them but he manages to do it anyway. Kobe guarding Roy or Ginobili is a fairer matchup; guarding Melo is truly guarding out of position.



    Ariza’s good, but Bryant’s defense (while very sporadic) is on another level when he’s locked in. Last night really showed that.

    And I’m sure people have heard, but it turns out that finger injury was a dislocation – Kobe had that finger popped back in and still tore the game up afterwards.


  78. I think I understand what Simmons is saying about Kobe. I was thinking during the game last night that things don’t come quite as easily for him – he has to work harder than he used to. It’s some combination of losing half-a-step, the hand injuries, or being tired because of not having a break since the summer of 2007. Still better than anyone else, with the possible exception of LeBron, but not quite what he was a couple of years ago. Which will probably make him appreciate the title even more this year if they win it.


  79. Simmons suffers from performance anxiety. His writing style was great when he was a nobody and Boston’s sports teams sucked. You look a lot better playing ball in a pickup game than in the NBA.

    Now he has national exposure, coupled with the fact that Boston sports are enjoying a Renaissance. He just can’t get the mustard on the hot dog with everyone watching. He doesn’t have the chops to be where he is, but he will still cash the checks.

    And the great New England sports conglomerate will keep him there. But that’s OK, my reward will be watching the Celtics team implode during the offseason.


  80. The hand injuries and no break since 2007 can be cured by an operation and forced rest in summer 2009. I suspect Kobe will be even better – maybe not so obviously dominant, though – next year.


  81. I only watched the 4th quarter last night, but how did bynum do in the other 3? Obviously his box score impact was limited, but Phil and Kobe don’t seem too down about it:

    I was very happy with his hard foul on Melo after he shrugged off kobe though.


  82. MSN’s NBA sports headline reads:

    “Kobe’s Selfishness Saves Lakers.”



  83. @479

    Genius. Absolutely beyond money genius.


  84. JR Smith is day to day with a hyperextended knee, but Karl believes he’s going to fine. Balkman (potentially another Kobe defender) is questionable for game 2 with an ankle sprain.


  85. OK, 13/28 is not on fire, or transcendent, the way Kobe can get, but it’s still 46.4%, which is close to Kobe’s season average (and better than Melo’s), and 40 points still comes out to 1.4 points per FGA, which ain’t so bad either. I’ll take that kind of game, with that kind of D and those rebounds and assists.


  86. @461—Also Kurt— I enjoyed KG’s prime, Paul Pierce’s prime and Ray Allen’s prime.

    Goodnight Celtics..


  87. I will take any player who is past his prime and plays like Kobe. So what if he has lost his explosiveness and first step. So what if he has to work harder to get his. All these things come with age. Lets not forget the number of games he has played, the dislocated fingers and all he has endured. For the simple fact that he adjusts and does what is necessary to play at a high level is ok with me. Why is the media in a rush to crown lebron?

    Did West say what he said to push Kobe? Was it a calculated move on his part? The timing couldnt have been better…I wonder.


  88. PeanutButterSpread May 20, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Jane – does anyone still use MSN as their front page anymore?

    Google and Yahoo >>>>>>>>> MSN.


  89. New post up.

    And don’t forget the chat at 1 p.m. today Pacific.


  90. j.d. Hastings May 20, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Roundball Mining Company has an excellent breakdown of the game last night.


  91. 487-Laker Girl:

    I was wondering the same thing. West’s timing seems very appropriate.

    Probably just us searching for something more, but that will certainly drive Kobe, especially in a match-up against LeBron.


  92. @488 – Google is my front page, but I always peek at MSN and hilarity ensues.


  93. I think, looking back, that what I enjoyed the most about yesterday’s game (aside from Kobe’s Mamba show, Bynum playing hard and fearless, Pau taking over when he needed to and Ariza playing like a star) is that our perimeter shots were falling. If Fisher and Sasha find their shot again as a result of yesterday, that will make the series a lot easier for us.


  94. Great close to the game. Kobe lookin in tip top shape courtsey of Mr. West, check out why his comments in regards to LeBron fueled Kobe last night..


  95. I also used to like Simmons “in his prime”. He used to be an earnest journalist, but now that he has national exposure he has become a pretentious and conceited attention seeker. He artificially digs up controversy and always tries to play “the wise man with the unconventional view” to the point that almost everything he says is just fabricated for attention. He’s no longer earnest he just tries too hard to appear earnest as the guy that isn’t afraid to speak his mind. In reality that is precisely what he is not. He created a controversial shell of himself over the past 2 years and he tries to keep up appearances with shallow journalism.