Lakers Preseason Game #7: The Denver Nuggets

Kurt —  October 22, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Game 5 NBA Western Conference finals in Los Angeles
Tonight is the first game in a while when the Laker rotations could look normal, at least for the first 12 minutes or so. That’s because Pau Gasol and Luke Walton are back, along with Lamar Odom. And in case you were wondering, Andrew Bynum is expected to play despite the minor shoulder injury.

And this is a good team for that to happen against, one of the top teams in the West. Denver has athletes that will run with Bynum down the floor. They have a great point guard. They have the tools to challenge the Lakers in a way other teams this preseason have not. It’s time for a game with a little more intensity.

The thing that is going to bug me tonight (and tomorrow): Every time an analyst says something about Denver seeking revenge for the playoffs. I can assure you the Nuggets don’t see a preseason game that way. Nobody does.

What I want to see this game is how the Lakers do on interior defense with all the big guys back — Denver was fifth in the NBA last year in points scored per game in the paint. The Lakers were second. Even though this is preseason, it will be interesting who can control the paint, who can force the other team to shoot jumpers.

Other things I’m looking forward to seeing tonight are a few minutes of Melo/Artest; and Ty Lawson of Denver and which Lakers backup PG is matched with him (and how that defense goes). That is the kind of match up that, come the games that matter, determines who is the first PG off the bench.

Tonight’s game is on TNT (7:30 start), live from the Honda Center in Anaheim (where much of the crowd could be focused on the Angels plight). For Nugs info, check out Roundball Mining Company. This is the first night of a back-to-back against the Nugs (tomorrow the game is on ESPN, already the national broadcasts start).

Kurt

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95 responses to Lakers Preseason Game #7: The Denver Nuggets

  1. I’m pretty sure Denver would love to have revenge for the play-offs, but in the next play-offs. Not in a pre-season game.

    The first regular season game should be interesting though. I’m sure we all remember how we felt about the first road game against Boston last year.

  2. It’s always amusing when the media tries to sell the drama of a game being one team’s attempt to get “revenege” for a loss in the prior season’s playoffs.

    It’s just absolutely stupid, but it must fool/entertaing some viewers/readers/morons or else the networks and papers would quit trotting out the same crap all the time. (I think the same explanation applies to Chris Berman’s longevity.)

    My favorite example of this came on on Halloween 2000, which was opening night that season. This was the night the Lakers — excuse me, Henry — the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers — went up to Portland for the first time following the Blazers’ epic choke job at Staples in the Western Finals earlier that year.

    The Oregon clansfolk, which never ceases to work itself into a frenzy over this supposed “rivalry” (15 titles to what, one? — that’s no rivalry) responded by dubbing that night’s contest “Game Eight.”

    Too bad there are no “Game Eights,” not that it mattered, however.

    L.A. beat the Blazers by 10 points to open the season, sending everyone back into the rainy Oregon night with a renewed sense of bitterness over all things purple and gold.

  3. Occasionally preseason games serve as revenge games: Remember the preseason game where Doug Christie and Rick Fox were ejcted and got into a fight behind the stands??

  4. Okay maybe that wasn’t revenge. Pent up bitterness games?

  5. I just don’t trust anybody to provide good insight on national telecasts. So, forgive me if I won’t really buy into any commentary tonight which suggests that we are seeing a possible match-up for the coming Conference Finals. Lots can happen to derail plenty of teams but baring some serious injuries around the league, I think Denver is going to find it hard to make the “Elite Eight”, let alone the WCF. As you said, Kurt, it’ll be very interesting to see the match-ups inside. I’m especially interested in seeing how much the team feeds Bynum with Pau back in.

    Does anybody remember if Billups has a habit of playing poorly in preseason? Obviously I loved seeing him fade during the WCF but that team was fun to watch when he was effective. He gave them a real lust for life.

  6. exhelodrvr,
    The underhand free-throw is a more natural motion and easier for many players – like those with wrist problems. It just doesn’t look so good.

  7. I think this could be the year of J.R. Smith. And since I’ve selected him for my fantasy team, he’d better be.

    Also, SI’s annual scouting reports/enemy lines on all 30 teams are out. I suggest you skip the pedestrian “scouting report” and head straight to “enemy lines”.

    The Laker report was a little hard to stomach because the scout “knows” controversy is inevitable and thinks he is some kind of oracle.

    The basis for his assertion emphasizes Artest’s bad behavior in the past but ignores his good behavior in recent times.

    So, how seriously am I supposed to take the rest of this guy’s report?

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/basketball/nba/scouting.reports/index.html

  8. Artest against Melo should be a good sample of whether Artest will really give us a defensive advantage against strong 3’s versus what Ariza brought. Hopefully we get to see a couple of good sequences with Melo iso’ing against Artest. This probably won’t be the end-all, be-all of observations, considering it’s preseason and our defensive schemes may significantly change over the course of the season, but hopefully it’ll shed some light on Artest’s 1v1 defense, considering that’s likely not to change so much over the course of the season.

  9. Craig W,
    I understand the logic behind why someone might use it. However, there is no proof that it is a better method; just anecdotal evidence on both sides. And that was not the main reason for Shaq’s poor free throw shooting. He just didn’t care enough to put the work into it. Same as with his level of conditioning.

    Similar logic with the skyhook. It worked great for Kareem. That doesn’t mean that it would work great for Bynum, or that the amount of time spent on it wouldn’t be better spent elsewhere.

  10. The biggest difference between tonight’s game and the playoffs is that in the playoffs Kobe was guarding Billups the whole game. Tonight that won’t happen. Even in the regular season last year it didn’t happen… Fisher and Brown guarded him.

    Zephid,
    We don’t need this game to see if Artest can guard Melo because we have the last 5 years as a larger sample size that says he defends Anthony very well.

  11. 7) that SI article was obviously written by a Boston fan. He grilled Gasol for being soft, saying he didn’t change at all. Did he watch the Lakers play last season?

  12. @j.d./#3 – I heard an interview with Rick Fox sometime last season where they asked him about his dust-up with Christie. He said a big problem was that Christie came out charged up like they were continuing the play-offs, which clashed with the “relax, this is pre-season” vibe most of the players had. (He didn’t explicitly say how much he contributed, but obviously he decided he didn’t want to put up with it (Fox being Fox, after all). But he did have the good grace to be somewhat embarrassed by it.)

  13. Game is also on KCAL/9, for those of you who can’t stand TNT’s in game announcers (me included)

    Someone get Reggie Miller and all references to “Very Funny” or “We Know Drama” off my TV screen, pretty pretty please

  14. @Travis,
    If he did, he must have stopped watching when the play-offs started…

  15. The si scout also says Artest is the first “tough” Laker since… Rambis. Is Shaq ever going to lose that “Finesse” tag?

  16. 10. Huh? In the 2009 WCF, Kobe started out each game guarding Dontae Jones, then switched over in crucial second half situations to guard Melo. Fish guarded Billups almost the whole time both players were in the game.

  17. Questions I expect to see resolved in this epic clash of bitter western conference foes.

    Does Gasol have heart – or is he a skinny, skirt wearing European?

    Is Kobe a better teammate? Does he trust his teammates?

    Is Ron’s therapy working? Is he better than Trevor?

    Is Fish finished?

    Can Bynum carry this team to a title?

    How much has Farmar matured?

    Can Sasha drain his shot consistently in this ‘playoff atmosphere’ game?

    Can LO handle coming off the bench for a whole season?

    Has Phil figured out his rotations and able to keep everyone happy?

    How will Ammo respond to crunchtime minutes in the playoffs?

    Can the Lakers match the ‘big three’ in the East?

    Haven’t been this excited about a game since…well, I guess since Tuesday’s game.

  18. Denver has a very athletic, high energy team that hustles and plays with alot of emotion. This run, first chance, offense and solid D makes this game a definite litmus test. Just give me 10 to 12 solid minutes at the beginning of the game, then let me see who Phil has coming in for Kobe(WOW or Sasha) and how they fit in with the second unit. That will make me happy, because you can never read to much into preseason but you can at least see how the team will be orchestrated by Phil, and how the players interact with each other running the offense.

  19. 17 – I could be wrong, but I think I remember Kobe starting off on Billups for at least a little while, in the earlier games of the series. But yeah, Kobe didn’t come close to guarding Billups the entire game, Kobe was the one who handled Melo in crunch time. How can anyone forget those battles for ball denial in the post between those guys?

    I don’t know why, I don’t really consider Shaq all that tough. Not like a gritty blue-collar type, which I think the writer’s implying.

  20. @Snoopy,
    I’m with you. Shaq is more of a slugger than actually tough. Toughness is more than playing a physical game.

  21. Absolutely riveting interview with Jackie McMullan on Pardon the Interruption just now about the whole Magic-Isiah dynamic. It’s being repeated on ESPN2 at 3:30 Pacific. I would urge everyone to watch it.

  22. 20. I’d amend my statement to say that for all the time Kobe, Fish, and Billups spent on the court together, Fish guarded Billups the majority of that time. As the series went on, Ariza spent more and more time guarding Melo, and Fish spent more and more time guarding Chauncey. Kobe almost exclusively guarded Jones and JR Smith the last three games of that series.

  23. 20, 21- I guess he was never really known for gritting his teeth and plaing through pain, and that type of toughness, but then is the scout claiming Kobe isn’t tough? Or Slava Medvedenko??

  24. 23 – I’d agree 100% with that.

    24 – The writer’s a tool, no doubt. Few could play through the torn ligaments and things that Kobe plays through. Even Rick Fox, despite his myriad of hair products, played a physical (*cough slow*) brand of defense.

  25. 23,
    They re aired the Denver series on NBA TV a few weeks ago and Kobe guarded Billups from the opening tip. Towards the end of the game Kobe moved over to guard Melo. The majority of the time Kobe was guarding Billups.

  26. Here is a quote from the AP after Game one…

    “Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson made the first move in the Western Conference finals and now it is up to the Denver Nuggets to adjust. Jackson put Kobe Bryant, his best defender, on Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups for much of Game 1. Even though Billups scored 18 points, he made just 38% of his field goals (5 of 13) and was just 2 of 7 from 3-point range in Denver’s 105-103 loss at Staples Center.”

  27. 26. Was that Game 1, or did they re-air the entire series? If that’s the case, then Fish guarded Jones and Smith, and I just don’t remember that.

  28. Kobe did get a lot of Billups time, but did get Melo time later in the series when the Nuggets started trying to exploit Ariza on him.

    Tonight, Fish. Kobe should just be announced as the free safety.

  29. @j.dhastings,
    Well, the scouting report does say, Kobe will like having some toughness behind him so that he won’t have to be the tough guy all of the time.

    Poorly phrased. Kobe lives for his next challenge, plays through pain and through stomach flu, and I doubt he wishes he wasn’t like that.

    I do think he will enjoy someone else being the mean guy though, and having an enforcer that actually enforces so thoroughly it makes opponents slow down and hesitate.

    Shaq strikes me as a bit of a whiner, to be honest :D

  30. The feeling I get about Phil Jackson is that there is no real formula

    The SI guy is in glue. No fomula huh.
    Its called the triangle. 2. Shaq was and is tough, also AC,Fox,Ho Grant,Pau (now)Kobe and Fish. to name a few

  31. The feeling I get about Phil Jackson is that there is no real formula.

    That feeling you are getting is guilt for taking money from SI to write that line.
    What a tool

  32. For those who dislike the National announcers, the game is also on KCAL Channel 9 in Southern California with Joel & Stu…

  33. 30- I guess he meant an enforcer type reserve? That’s not what he said… it just seems like a lazy statement that means less and less the more I look at it.

  34. @34 (j.d.)
    Exactly. That’s the role I can see Artest fill on the team (and very well too), and how I have seen several others describe him online and in magazines.

    It’s not just the statement. The entire report was very poorly written, both from a factual and simple “craft of writing”-point of view.

  35. 28,
    The reason Phil Jackson could put Kobe on Billups was because Jones had zero offensive game so Fisher could just stand with him on the perimeter and hang out. Jones is out this year so the Nuggets will have nobody to guard Kobe but the Lakers will now have to put their PG (Fisher & Brown) on Billups this year in the playoffs.

  36. Aaron, right. I still remember Fish getting a considerable amount of time on Billups, but I think it was later in the series after Billups was done. I have a feeling that either JR Smith or old LA guy Arron Afflalo will be the starting SG for Denver this season. If Afflalo is the starter, I think Fish can guard him if he’s kept the starting job.

    Also, if Anthony Carter gets priority in amount of playing time over Ty Lawson at backup PG (especially early in the season), then there’s no doubt that George Karl is smoking crack. Denver’s purchase of the 18th pick is the most underrated move of the draft and one of the most underrated moves of the offseason. They picked up their current backup PG (and future, potential all-star PG) with one fell swoop for a cheap price.

  37. Aaron Denver got Aafalo to quard the 2 guards. He is a pretty good defender but will not stop KB from doing his thing.

  38. Both Pau and Bynum are out tonight. Anybody looking to take a stroll down memory lane? The year was 2006, the lakers had just missed the playoffs in the first time in 11 years or something and were about to embark on a journey of self discovery….

    Tonight we have Tony Gaffney playing the part of Chris Mihm, with Josh Powell as Kwame Brown. No offense intended to either of them.

  39. It should also be noted that it’s Phil’s m.o. to put bigger wing defenders onto PG’s. Remember, Phil put Pippen (and later Kobe) on Mark Jackson in playoff series. He put Pippen on Stockton. He put Pippen and Jordan on Magic. He’s used Kobe on Jason Kidd, Tony Parker, and Deron Williams in playoff series. Last season, he put Ariza on Deron and on Parker. He put Kobe on Billups and when Kobe moved over to ‘Melo, he put Ariza on Billups – remember it was a pass to Billups that Ariza stole to seal the game when he shot that gap.

    I’m not trying to downplay the success that PG’s have had on Fish and I’m sure that has played a role in Phil’s defensive assignments. That said though, Phil sees the opposing PG as the head of the monster. You chop off the head of the monster and you kill the beast. If you can actually manage to put one of your better defenders on a PG and not suffer schematically you should do it. And Phil does just that.

  40. 39,
    I was thinking the same thing. Except The Lakers have a better Farmar and Sasha… and have a worse Kobe and Lamar. The major difference tonight is this time the team has Ron Artest. So tonight’s Lakers team is not as bad as that 06 team.

  41. … unless you were thinking of the 05-06 team that has Caron Butler.

  42. Sorry… I didn’t read all of it… you were talking about the team that had Butler… so yes the team is very similar.

  43. 7

    I’m reading ‘Enemy Lines’ right now and the Lakers’ report is probably the least impressive so far. Gasol is soft, Artest is tough but crazy, Kobe trusts his teammates more now – basically the same stuff you hear on national TV broadcasts all the time.

  44. So much for ‘normal rotations’… Mbenga Time!

  45. So far, looks like the game plan is not to have anyone guard Billups and take no shots inside 20 feet

  46. did i just see the whole bench cross their legs in unison when we scored the first basket lol

  47. In the enemy lines piece on SI – the thought that jumped out at me was the psychological toll having to play a seven game series against Artest could take. We’ve got two of those players – Kobe on O and Ron on D. It is not just the skill level (though that has to be there), it is the relentlessness of these two guys. I can’t imagine having to deal with either of those guys over seven games.

  48. Think any of the announcers will think to mention the Farmar-Afflalo connection?

  49. 47

    Harlan just brought it up.

  50. Stream link anyone?

  51. Is Odom’s 3pt shooting is for real?

  52. i don’t know if i’ve got the bar set too high for a preseason game but the shooting is horrendous on both sides (except billups). i don’t think ive ever seen kobe put a 10ft. J’ that short as he did on the “turn around/ lean in shot” that he took in the 1st qtr. He almost air balled it!

  53. Is that Lamar Odom or Rashard Lewis?

  54. 53. I swear kobe has been short on his jumper all preseason

  55. Kobe is blatantly ignoring afflalo to just stay on nene for entire possessions.

  56. woah! how bout Doug Collin’s prediction of seeing the Lakers playing a small lineup with LO at the 5 during this season?

    farmar/shannon/kobe/ron/LO? they could get out and score…

  57. Angels won by the slimmest conceivable margin

  58. OH MY GOOOOOOODNESS KOBE DON’T KILL THEM

  59. Was that a Dream inspired up fake and spin for jumper?

  60. No… Kobe did that last year at MSG when he dropped 61 at New York…

  61. I recall the MSG one more as a step through after the up fake and not a spin, but either way, sweet move.

  62. Nah, he spun at MSG.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l053a5oYxc

    Mbenga with 6 blocks. LO with 5 three’s. I like.

  63. I have seen that move before as well from Kobe

  64. Mbenga with 7 blocks! Mbanging with Mbenga indeed.

  65. mbenga needs to bring out the finger wag

  66. Before every game Mbenga is out there working on that 17 footer. It pays off.

  67. I think Mbenga is working out his demons from the Griffin posterization.

  68. Maybe we do not need Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum anymore?

  69. Wonder if we’ll see the second unit close out the game again.

  70. sT Yeah right you must to have been hanging out with LO and Khloe before the game.

  71. Trade Pau and Bynum for a PG to solve the problem. Kidding, Kurt, kidding!

  72. Kurt, I think it’s time I rescind my comments about Powell.

  73. Lawson deserves more minutes than he’s getting.

  74. Okay, I know it is preseason – but is it fair to say we have a pretty deep team?

  75. So is the easy storyline for hacks tomorrow about how Lakers continue their domination of Denver?

  76. i’m really enjoying this game. it’s nice to see everyone get a chance to play and display their skills and not just in garbage time.

  77. Back-to-back nationally televised pre-season games… only the Lakers.

  78. An NBA exhibition game regardless of who the opponents are is the very essence of meaninglessness. Hell, regular season games are often little more than an existential exercise. Aside from a team’s place in the standings, the significance of games with a playoff level team are:

    a) rehearsing for the playoffs

    b) building confidence for the playoffs

    Even in the playoffs themselves in the preliminary rounds the idea of revenge takes a back seat to advancing to the next round. I don’t think it’s until you’re in the finals that you really begin to think in terms of revenge.

  79. A meaningless ass-whooping is an ass-whooping nonetheless.

  80. hey does anyone have nba leagepass bb? thinking of subscribing.. demos were great… not sure if actual live games would be as good..

  81. I’ve had the NBA League Pass through DirecTV for a couple of years now and they kindly auto-renew it just before each season so they can add the charge to my bill. :D

    IT WILL NOT cover the play-offs, and local black-out rules apply so if you get a game on a local network the League Pass has to let them show it and will black it out on the League Pass channels.

    All things considered, I’m very happy I have this subscription, and will continue to let it auto-renew for as long as it’s available.

    Oh, and fair warning, you will get the home announcers on all games that are not nationally televised. Atlanta’s announcers are good, and ours are as well, but I strongly recommend muting the TV during road games against Portland…! :)

  82. Forgot to add that I have not tested the broadband option, but the game quality varies depending on local feed, some are good, some are better, some are horrible. It varies.

  83. Anon,

    How could “actual live games” not be as good? League Pass is great. I get it every year and do not miss any Lakers games,plus I get to check up on our supposed contenders. So when these so called experts or writers try to feed us their BS, I know why they are wrong. Haha.

  84. wondahbap, scouting out the enemy one channel at a time…

    I now have a mental image of you watching the Celtics, Magic, and Cavs on different TVs while watching the Laker game on the big screen. I’m insanely jealous. :D

  85. I remember last year someone complaining that one of these Basketball channel services had a ‘fan’ night every Tuesday, and Laker games were almost always chosen. Hence, the ‘other’ service had to black them out, essentially meaning that every Tuesday night Laker game was not available on that service. I remember that, because I am in that same situation this season until mid-December of not being able to watch the Lakers live on Tuesday. Anyway, just throwing that out here.

  86. Bill Simmons has a very good column:

    (Link below is for part 2)

    http://tinyurl.com/ykaqlmk

  87. wouldn’t know mate.. i don’t have league passs..haha. but i guess what i meant was given that its over the interweb and streaming, etc.. are the constant interruptions/disconnections.. im guessing live feeds are less stable than static ones..

    i mean i was *really* impressed by the quality of the games.. and to get that live, streaming.. seemed alittle too good to be true..

    i guess imagonna be a subscriber then.. thanks for the advice mates.

  88. League Pass is amazing. Everybody I know who has gotten it once can’t give it up afterwards. If you live in LA, maybe not as much because you get all the Laker and Clipper games. Even then though, the opportunity to get home from work and start surfing the games to find which are close… If you are just a big bball fan you’ll love it.

    Poor Hornets- they trade an oft injured big man with lingering big toe problems for a center with… lingering big toe problems:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AtPMFiQYMTwtcbGncDM0pTw5nYcB?slug=mc-okaforhornets102209&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

  89. also.. call me a noob but i thought ‘local blackout rules’ meant if your internet connection went down u can’t sue nba.. haha. and here i was thinking “wow these guys can predict blackouts in advance?”

    so where does one find details about these conflicts? particularly one living in a (apparently) 3rd world country w/lamentable nba coverage? is there like a list somewhere?

  90. I’m perplexed by the “Kobe in decline” theme that seems to be wafting around the basketball world. Seems like he’s just a few months removed from completely dominating the NBA Finals. That’s one dude I don’t ever worry about.

    Mbenga has to be the best 3rd string center in the league.

  91. sT,
    That might have been me… though since I get NBA TV as well I can watch those games on that channel. If you’re outside the US and get the broadband leaguepass, and don’t have that option, then I can see why someone would complain about that…