Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Kurt —  February 5, 2010

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Records: Lakers 38-12 (1st in West) Nuggets 33-16 (2nd in West, 4.5 games back of Lakers)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 109.3 (10th in league), Nuggets: 111.6 (3rd in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 102.2. (2nd in league) Nuggets 106.3 (12th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Nuggets: Chancey Billups, Aaron Affalo, Joey Graham, Kenyon Martin, Nene

Are any of the superstars playing tonight? Well, Kobe is for sure, he confirmed it at shoot around this morning. Did you really think he wouldn’t play? (If you played it smart, wouldn’t you play a couple more games then say after Monday night against the Spurs that you can’t keep going, miss the Jazz game on Wednesday but also get to sit out All Star Weekend, giving you a week off? He’s not going to do that, just sayin.)

Carmelo Anthony said it would take a “miracle” for him to play tonight. Still, I would not be surprised to see him in warmups and ready to go. Let me put it this way, if I had ‘Melo on my fantasy team, he’s not back in the starting rotation yet, but you keep your eye out because he will be soon.

What is interesting is the contrast between how these two deal with the injury. Kobe will not be kept off the court. Even if he should be. Carmelo wants to be 100% before he returns (ala Gasol and his hamstring). Really, I don’t think one is better or worse than the other, players should choose what is best for them and their bodies. This is how they make a living. But the approaches are an interesting contrast.

Nuggets coming in: I listened to a pretty honest interview George Karl did on Jim Rome’s radio show earlier this week. Karl was up front that he would love to get one more player via trade, but also realized that his franchise is not going to take on more salary, and that a move is very unlikely.

He also seemed to be sending a message to his team that they can beat the Lakers with what they have come the playoffs. (I’m sure he’s pumping that up a lot right now in practices and meetings.) It’s a confidence thing, Karl has to get this team to believe it can beat the Lakers in a series before it can happen — for all the skills and Xs and Os, the difference between the top teams can be more about confidence than skills. He knows they are close, he knows that Denver is a little better than last year. But getting them to believe they are over the hump will be the challenge.

So what are the Nuggets like without Carmelo Anthony? Well, as you would expect, their offense takes a big hit — they score 5.5 fewer points per game. (Their defense is unaffected.) That’s a problem, as they win games with their offense first, so the Nuggets are 7-4 this season without Melo.

They also have been a bad road team 11-12 away from the Pepsi Center.

Nuggets blogs Roundball Mining Company is filled with smart people.

Keys to game: If there is no Carmelo tonight, then there will be more Billups in the Nuggets offense. That is not necessarily good for the Lakers.

First thing — you have to step out on Billups above the three-point line when he brings it up. Billups and Baron Davis love the pull-up three more than any two guards in the league (in an ESPN Chat, Mr. Clipperblog Kevin Anovitz said the difference is that Billups makes his). Billups is shooting 45.6% from three in the Nuggets last 10 games.

They will also post Billups up or run him off multiple screens to get him open. Defending him does not fall to Fisher (or Farmar or Brown) alone, the team has to defend him.

The other guy the Lakers can’t let get hot is JR Smith — just part of the battle of the benches that will be key tonight. Smith loves the spot up three in transition, but he will put it on the floor and drive if you run at him, so again it is a team defense not just one man. They also run him off a lot of screens (which should look familiar to Afflalo from his UCLA days).

On offense, the last meeting the Nuggets doubled Bynum hard in the post, and that took Bynum out of his game and he did not adjust well. Tonight he needs to react better, the ball needs to come out and swing to the weakside fast.

Where you can watch: 7:30 p.m. start here out west, on ESPN and Fox Sports. Plus, ESPN radio 710am.


Kurt

Posts

291 responses to Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. The Lakers fully deserved that. Ugh.

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  2. The crowd deserves a full refund and a free ticket for another home game after this embarrassing defeat.

    But credit the Nuggets for playing with purpose and being on fire. They were the better team on both ends of the floor tonight. And I didn’t even mention they were missing their best player. Wow.

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  3. 184 – LOL!!!! I know we can’t get him but I love the idea!! And then add Ray Allen (however he sucks in the playoffs) for our outside shooting. He would be the Brett Favre of the NBA.

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  4. Curt.. Darius.. is it okay to be concerned about this team yet? @

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  5. Can someone tell me who the old man dressed like a witch is that just talked to Billups courtside after his interview? He always sits front row and is the strangest looking creature I’ve seen.

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  6. wow, 15-22 from 3 for denver. you can’t win if they’re shooting 68% from 3. that’s impressive.

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  7. I can’t believe some of the overreacting, whiny, petulant comments tonight. I really can’t. Denver hit so many difficult shots that I was literally laughing out loud when they went in. Some games, you just tip your cap and move on. Tonight was one of those nights. Instead, people want make it seem like career nights from players and shooting over 60% from the field are the norm and that the Lakers aren’t one of the best teams in the league. Please.

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  8. Is it too early for a perspective comment?

    As was said earlier, when a team shoots nigh on 70% from deep, nobody’s going to beat them, especially one like ours that struggles to defend against guards at the best of times.

    So a frustrating loss (especially after being up in the 3rd and looking pretty solid before Billups went bezerk), but as usual, there’s still a lot of games to go.

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  9. despite seeing all this, i don’t really see denver beating the lakers unless they blow us out 4 times. they just don’t have the chops come playoff time to win the close games.

    i thought sasha was already at rock bottom but it looks like it got even worse today. his confidence is shot.

    and all this “they didnt even have melo” talk bugs me. whatever, the lakers actually might have won if he played!

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  10. Yes – Denver is absolutely awesome!! That is what wins championships. Total props to their team. Now if the Lakers would show some hustle, good D, total effort, I’d be praising them too.

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  11. The Nuggets played better, harder, and with more heart, than the Lakers did. They earned this win.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t hate losing to them, but they worked for it. Credit to the Nuggets.

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  12. The post after this loss will be an interesting read for sure, what happened and why?

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  13. Lakers take 14 more shots, have 18 O-rebounds and see the Nuggets go 15-22 from three point range and have to go to Portland tomorrow. UGH

    Maybe they will shock everyone and win.

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  14. DON’T PANIC.

    and never go anywhere in the universe without your towel.

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  15. So what’s the reason now that the Lakers lost? Without Melo!

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  16. Darius… that 60% shooting didn’t just miraculously appear out of thin air, it was a result of capital “P” poor defense. Believe me, I understand the “let’s not declare the season over before the all-star break has even happened” argument- I agree. But it’s hardly a shock that people are frustrated after seeing this team drop games they should be winning, over and over again. So far, our record against elite competition….well, it ain’t elite. And that’s troubling.

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  17. Schulman had it right – Denver has 6 or 7 nights like this a year. These guys are hitting 3’s in our faces; this is the exception rather than the norm. Think of Sasha in 08. That’s kind of what the Nuggets were tonight. Take it as a lesson and move on.

    One thing to come out of tonight – a small strike against the push for more Sasha PT. I’ve been pushing for it as well, and I was hopeful when Sasha began the game under control. He was pesky without fouling, moved his feet, was somewhat effective defensively, and played under control on offense (by under control, I mean he gave the ball to more capable people). In the 2nd half, he lost some of that restraint. I believe it began when he got his ankles broken on D, and may have pressed a little too much, trying to atone offensively. He had a couple open looks in the 4th, but – nothing. I spent all last year ignorantly optimistic, always believing the next game was when Sasha would revert back to 08 form. I’ve been the same way this year. But the more I see of him, the less faith I have in him.

    I haven’t given up on him. To judge off a 1-game sample is moronic. I’d like to see Sasha get this kind of burn in 10-15 games, and if he continues to produce at this level, I think we can quietly lay our hopes to rest.

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  18. Darius – yes, Denver was super hot tonight. But how come so many teams have superstar nights against us. Lakers make superstars out of NBA players we barely even hear of. It’s not just tonight – it happens nearly every game.

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  19. That was pretty embarrassing, Darius. You have to admit.

    The Nuggets not only made basically every shot they took, but the Lakers certainly didn’t get in the way of too many.

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  20. This team, as currently constructed, is not winning a title this year.

    Enough with the “patience” argument. A championship team would beat Denver, without Melo, at home.

    Denver shot 67% from three because Billups had Fisher guarding him for most of the game.

    The Point Guard position isn’t an “issue,” it’s a full-on emergency.

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  21. expect a lot of trade chatter after this loss.

    though it is painful to see a 38-13 (as of date) team to coast through the season this way, there are really some things true to last year’s lakers that are true this year. my only hope is that when they end the script to this drama, they remain on top.

    we also felt at times before that this team wasn’t going to be tough enough but they managed. now, it’s a matter of being sharp enough and that issue has been part of what is apparently their champion dna since last year.

    personnel changes can only go so far people. i swallowed that pill of wisdom thanks to kurt.

    that said, there are issues that are glaring now more than ever…point guard defense is one, outside shooting is another…and to this end i wouldn’t feel that we’d ruin chemistry if we pick up upgrades here and there.

    solid game from pau, but i am looking for the 25-10 gem. bynum wasn’t bringing in the heat to the denver frontline.

    honestly, i am not settled about our chances in portland. they owe us consistent showing and that doesn’t always come in the form of a blowout. just wins, or losses that matter as wins.

    GO LAKERS!

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  22. I agree, the Nugs were so hot today that it just didn’t matter. I also don’t buy this business of the getting in our heads – we’re the champs. Until they prove they can beat us in a series, that doesn’t change.

    How many bunnies have our guys missed right at the basket these last few games? We really need to finish through the contact, especially the bigs.

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  23. Got to give Denver credit, they shot the living daylights out of the ball. What they also proved to me is that they are no doubt the better team right now. They didnt even need Melo. I agree with other posts, the Lakers need a consistent outside shooter who can knock down the 3s. Denver is the much better shooting team. the other thing that bothered me was Nene. He absolutely bullied and owned Bynum. If you ask me, Bynum is a pretty weak defender.

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  24. @Lakers8884, I watched the same game as you right? Cuz i saw a lot of contested 3s out there and they were still made. They were shooting so hot that K mart decided to shoot a 3 pointer.

    @Darius, with all the comments the past few games, I’m starting to think the Lakers are the Clippers. If people knew nothing about basketball and read these comments, they would have thought that the Lakers are the worst team in the league.

    WE HAVEN’T PLAYED THE ALL STAR GAME YET.

    And some people are saying that we aren’t a good team? Pau is soft. Do you guys realize that before the Lakers got Pau we were getting beat? Since Pau got here no 3 game losing streaks.

    Nuggets were insane. Good team defense is helping when someone penetrates and letting people shoot from three because thats not a high percentage shot. Nuggets killed the 3. Killed it. Let’s give them some credit. They ain’t bums over there.

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  25. I totally agree, Karl. now the lakers need some work. there’s still time.

    denver was on fire.

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  26. #214
    Tipping my hat at the Douglas Adams reference 🙂

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  27. 209 – I disagree. Denver has learned how to beat us and they are doing it without Carmello…on our hc. They blew us away first game – now we are 0-2. Even in the playoffs last year we just got lucky against them.

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  28. >plenty of time to work it out.

    51 games gone.. 31 left.. and nothing ever seems to change.

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  29. also, i hate this Pau is soft crap and he doesn’t hustle. 9 offensive rebounds.

    Darius, thanks for calling people out. I’m more frustrated with the comments during games than the actual game. Denver is not shooting like that through a 7 game series.

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  30. I’m not going to overreact but four issues keep coming up in games against great teams, that need to be addressed.

    1. Inconsistent effort on defense

    2. The bench play against the elite teams benches

    3. Play of the Lakers big men, against elite teams, one or the other cannot show up, we need them BOTH.

    4. PG play, but that’s the most obvious

    And offensively, the team was fine tonight it was just a lack of solid defense. Defensive spurts against good teams wont win games, it has to be over the whole game.

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  31. Exactly, Burgundy! I’m really starting to hope that we get bounced from the playoffs in the first round just to hear all these fans still come on here and say “no need to panic”, “no need to worry”, “it’s still early” even after our season ends. What a joke! No, the season is not over and things can still be corrected (well, maybe not), but the “oh well, we lost” attitude is getting annoying. That’s the problem with this team. I’m not sure they really care. If you lose even one game, you should still be concerned. At least concerned enough to figure out what went wrong and try to fix it! It doesn’t mean you need to be at the edge of a cliff ready to jump, but enough with the nonchalant attitude! It’s getting annoying!

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  32. Darius, with all due respect, we’ve had enough evidence at this point to be allowed to be more than concerned about this Laker team.

    These aren’t whiny, petulant posts. These are fans who looked at a team coming off a championship, that only changed one player (and that player was a defensive upgrade), and expected great things.

    This team has not delivered great things. The first loss to Denver was forgiveable, this one was not.

    And the “they had a career shooting night” argument is bogus. EVERY SINGLE FREAKING POINT GUARD THE LAKERS PLAY HAS A CAREER SHOOTING NIGHT.

    The Lakers are currently giving 30+ minutes a night to the 3rd worst starter in the league, according to Hollinger’s Per.

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  33. I am begging anyone pimping for more Sasha playing time to consider that this game is NOT a one-time thing for him. He has been this atrociously bad for nearly two full years now.

    He can’t shoot. He can’t play defense without fouling forty feet from the hoop. His decision making with the ball in his hands is awful. Oh, and he can’t pass or rebound.

    The only reason why anyone is even considering giving him playing time is because the rest of our guards are so atrocious. Sasha wouldn’t be getting significant minutes on most mid-level college teams.

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  34. dave in hillsboro February 5, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    The silver lining: now we get to win in Portland.

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  35. @Karl, we get so many people having great nights against us cuz we’re the champs. And we have a target on our backs. So they come out pumped.

    Like I referenced to earlier: Chick Hearn used to say that any team can beat any team any given night.

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  36. Looks like the Lakers are like Cleveland last season, struggling on the elite teams… They need to be better than this if they want to repeat.

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  37. Ray, the problem is the Lakers know that just as well as we do so why come out in the beginning of the game with poor effort and play as if you dont care and can turn it on whenever you want? There is a sense of overconfidence and pride on this team right now that is NOT good for the team.

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  38. Josh,
    I missed the first part of the game, but read the comments and got a firm impression that the Lakers were not defending that well and leaving shooters to help/double team when staying home would have been the better option. So, I understand what you’re saying – poor defense often leads to good shooting. That said, the Nuggs shot so many step back jumpers in the 4th quarter and made several double clutch layups in traffic that, while I give them credit for making them, I don’t think it’s realistic to say those were good shots or shots that they could depend on from game to game. Denver had a great shooting night. They deserve credit for that. But while I’m giving them credit I’m not going to pile on the Lakers. And I’m also not going to overreact. In a way, this game reminded me of game 3 of the Finals when the Magic could not miss. Was that the norm or was it a fluke? To me this game showed what Denver is capable of. But I do not believe that they can play at that level for every game. I just don’t. In the same way that I don’t think the Lakers will play this poorly consistently. Just like I don’t think the Lakers will play *their* best game every night.

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  39. dave i HOPE so…

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  40. That bank that Lawson made when the game was still close pretty much spelled the night for the Lakers. I suppose this is what it’s like to be the hunted and not the hunter. I can’t imagine having to play a game with playoff level intensity every single night. Other teams only have to deal with that once in a while. For other teams, every game against the Lakers is a playoff level game.

    I think that the level of expectation we all have for the Lakers to be a dominant force during the regular season every year is perhaps a bit high. At least for this particular team. They don’t have the type of drive that some of those teams in the past had. Yes, they’re still good enough that beating them 4 of 7 would be nigh impossible, but we all expect that they’ll sweep every team and set unattainable records. We yearn for something we’ve never seen, when in reality all we want is something we’ve pretty much gotten used to.

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  41. Well said, Mimsy. Partly it was just their night, but I credit them for their aggressiveness and mentality. I hope this just makes us take it to them even harder in the playoffs.

    Darius – Sadly at some point I think you have to let it go. It is sad when the comments get so frustrating that it saps the fun out of a great forum. That’s what my Reed-banging-his-head-against-the-wall comment meant. It wasn’t referring to the game, it was referring to him having to sift through the posts tonight.

    But everyone has the right to their own opinion, I guess. I try to abstain from sniping back, because it just turns ugly. But more often than not, I, like our guards running the fast break, break my restraint.

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  42. I don’t think it’s time to panic, but we should consider some changes.

    The defense on the 3-pointers wasn’t that bad, we can’t really be expected to guard Chauncey to the halfcourt line, and in a 7-game series the Lakers would be perfectly happy to see JR Smith take those very same one-on-one jumpshots.

    I did think, though, what are our point guards doing to push Billups when he’s playing defense? If essentially he only has to worry about the scoring end, then he’s going to score above average.

    But keep in mind, we lost by 13 and Billups scored TWENTY over his season average. Poor defense can’t explain that much of a jump. It’s normal statistical clustering (call it the hot hand or don’t).

    Sasha and Shannon both made bad decisions in the second half. It sure would be nice to move some folks to upgrade the perimeter.

    Still, we’ve got the 2nd best record in the league, and that’s with teams bringing their A game every night, and the post-championship malaise that hits every team (if Cleveland should win at some point, I’ll be very interested to see what happens to their chemistry and swagger in the following season).

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  43. 228 – I agree with that but the Cavs also have a target on their backs and they aint losing like the Lakers. I absolutely can’t stand them but you gotta give them credit for playing so hard and wiping other teams off the court. They have definitely improved over last year and will give the Lakers a run for their money if we even get that far.

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  44. let’s look at how this team is presently constructed — once you get past the top six players, they just aren’t very good. and, that six includes Fisher, Odom, Bynum…

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  45. @Eric, I don’t get that sense at all. i remember that sense during the shaq years, where everyone was saying they will play well when they need to. I don’t get that sense from this team. I sense frustration on this team actually.

    Lakers scored 30 in the first, 34 in the second. So I don’t get your argument that they didn’t start out playing well. Denver got hot right at the third quarter. and continued on. 68.2% from 3. I’ve watched enough games to know that those types of shooting nights are few and far between, regardless of the defense. And I didn’t think the closeout defense was that bad in the second half by the lakers.

    This isn’t going to be last season’s lakers that had an 11 Game lead in the West. This is going to be more like 2 years ago when everyone was really close to one another in the west.

    I agree with Pig Miller, either the expectations for this team are too high (unrealistic) or the expectations on the other teams in the league are really low.

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  46. I think “mistake” is the best way to describe this game. Maybe the team thought that if they can beat Boston, they can beat Denver well enough to have playing room by giving Sasha triple the minutes he deserves, letting powell play a second quarter that is very easily in reach for the Nugs’, and taking Kobe out when he’s wearing mamba goggles. Maybe we weren’t quick (mentally) enough to notice they were having a big shooting night or that Nene would have had problems passing out of a double team that came from the front court weak side. Whatever it was it was a mistake not a lack of talent. We can take the Nuggets we just have to be smarter than them.

    Last thought- Big matchups in the regular season are usually downplayed on their importance in reflection to the postseason. If we don’t turn this around from the all-star break on through the end of the season, it will be a BIG impact on this team. If you have no history of playing well against any of your real competition, it is a major set back. Just look at how the second war in Iraq went (JK).

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  47. @Burgundy

    “And the “they had a career shooting night” argument is bogus. EVERY SINGLE FREAKING POINT GUARD THE LAKERS PLAY HAS A CAREER SHOOTING NIGHT.”

    Bit of hyperbole there. I looked at the last 20 or so box scores, the PG has an above average night against us about 1 in 5 games.

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  48. Karl, being the hungry up-and-comers making a name for yourself every night is completely different than being the champions, who always tread water until the playoffs.

    That’s happened with just about every champion including the repeat winners. The only exception I can recall is the 72-game Bulls.

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  49. Here is my god honest rating of the season up until this part of the season for the Lakers. And I would welcome anyone to disagree with me, or correct me if I’m wrong and I would really love to hear what you Kurt and Darius have to say about this but here goes.

    The Lakers are a better more talented team than last year, the team that won the title.

    However, aside from the Nets almost EVERY team in the league has gotten better, most have had drastic changes to make them much better than last year.

    So it would seem that the Lakers do not expect they have to work as hard as they did last year when they won the title, when in FACT they will have to work much much harder to win it this year because there is no longer a guarantee. The rest of the league has caught up in terms of talent and many of the Lakers are not getting any younger. Nobody owes them anything in the league just because they are the defending Champs, and it seems many times they feel they are owed respect instead of going out and earning it.

    With that being said it isn’t time for panic but there are many issues that need to be fixed, and some I think can be fixed but others can not (sadly I think we are stuck with our current bench due to the salary issues). I just hope losses like these remind the guys that they need to bring their A game on a consistent basis, because the saying is quite true anyone can beat anyone else on a given night.

    Now on to a Portland road win I hope…….

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  50. I think we should blow up the team completely and start over. I mean if the Lakers can’t beat the Nuggets with Melo out then why even try???

    /sarcasm

    Denver played a great game against us. They took advantage of at times lax defense, Chauncey blew up with the best night of his career, and J.R. Smith was making whatever he wanted. Even with a +7 advantage on the boards, and +10 more offensive rebounds.

    The defense was not a complete disaster as people had made it out to be. Ron played some solid D on Chauncey, but he was in the zone. There was no chance of stopping him tonight.

    It is much harder to defend a championship than to win a championship. Take the game with a grain of salt and move on. The Lakers have only 31 games left with a tough one at Portland tomorrow. Let’s hope that the Lakers come out with a more sustained effort on defense.

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  51. So what – Lakers have to go 0-4 against the nuggets for others to start being concerned? We probably aren’t going to win in Denver so we’re lucky to go 1-3. Hmmm. 0-2 against Cavs.

    And Karl just wants to get it in his players heads that they can beat the Lakers. With that confidence in the playoffs they will be gunning for us – and at this rate they will win.

    And then the “glass half full” fans will be saying, “geezzzz, I didn’t see this coming”.
    It’s ok – I enjoyed the season because we had the 2nd best record. Say we play Portland in the first round – yikes!!!!

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  52. Here’s the problems in a nutshell! Worries are misguided!

    1. Why does Bynum worry about getting more touches instead of concerning himself with blocks and rebounds. Wait your turn younsta!

    2. Why does Pau worry about pleasing people by playing hard in spurts. He’s soft and that’s all it is to it. Work with it.

    3. Why does Shannon worry about proving he can score instead of running the offence?

    4. Why Farmer worry about out-doing Shannon instead of running the offense?

    5. Fish needs to worry!!

    6. Artest betta worry about gettin the fire he had in Houston back. Cognac?

    7. Sasha stop worrying about being traded- no one will pick u up now!

    8. Phil should worry about being out-coached instead of when he will retire

    9. Odom stop worrying about how well you hide the fact you Believe you should be a starter

    10. Oh Kobe- the Great one. Do you have a worry bone at all? Well you Should! Please worry if Mitch will get you a reliable PG or knock down shooter!

    I’m not worried at all. I know we will be in the playoff and handle our business. Kobe is thecreason I’m spool confident. No worry Be Happy!

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  53. I remember when Stu said, during one of those pregame key points, not to let opposing players have career nights. That was against Charlotte, I believe, when Mohammed went ballistics on the Lakers. Now Chauncey Billups has a career high agains tthe defending champs that wants to repeat?

    I don’t believe I’m overreacting when I say that we cannot beat Cleveland in a 7-game series, homecourt or not (likely not), in our current state. And, as for Denver, I’m not even too sure. PJ said in today’s LA Times that Hamblen (responsible for scouting Denver) told him that the Nuggets believe that they are better than the Lakers and have the Lakers’ number, and that they play like it. I can’t disagree.

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  54. Ray, if it wasnt for Kobe being on fire in the first quarter the Lakers would have been down alot in the quarter because as a team they did come out flat.

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  55. Burgundy,
    I don’t think I said that fans couldn’t be concerned. Nor do I think fans can’t/shouldn’t be frustrated. I’m frustrated. I see issues that concern me. But if someone is actually taking a big picture look at this team, are the conclusions that the Lakers aren’t a good team? They may not have been a good team tonight, but I can say with absolute certainty that the Lakers are a good team. It’s when fans decide that one game (or our worst performances) constitute what this team is, that bothers me. It makes me think that fans can’t accept that the Lakers won’t play their best game every night and at the same time implying that the other teams’ best efforts will be there every night.

    Last season, this team endured so many ups and downs and got pushed to the brink by Houston and were in a dog fight with Denver over the first four games of that series. And now, this season, fans act like because the Lakers won the title that they are now immune to playing poorly. That they’re bullet proof. Kurt, so many times, has spoken about the journey and how it’s that path that is important and not just the reaching of that ultimate goal. Too often I’m seeing people act like the game that is going on that night is game 7 of the Finals and it’s not. Do these games matter? Yes. But I just see a lot of jumping to conclusions. Conclusions that are much too far reaching for a handful of games to actually represent.

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  56. Point guard. Horrible

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  57. My honest feeling is that the Lakers will win tomorrow, then win at home and lose in Utah.

    They may not even be the number one seed in the conf this year, because they rest on their laurels a little much.

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  58. 6. Artest betta worry about gettin the fire he had in Houston back. Cognac?

    You must have missed the part where he nearly threw a punch in the first half.

    My thoughts on that situation where Ron ended up with a technical are that it’s great that he stopped himself from actually punching someone. It’s a bit less great that he needed to stop himself from punching a player on the floor…

    I get that he doesn’t appreciate someone grabbing his shoulder and pulling him downwards when he’s in mid-air making a lay-up. I get that, and support sending a message that it will make him angry. The whole clenched fist going towards head for a split second though… not supporting that so much.

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  59. This is a frustrating game, even the last steal of billups, it’s like the nuggets are sending a message, the Lakers cannot easily get out of the west this time.

    Lakers need to work harder because every team they are facing always bring thier game on another level. Anyway, the team should experience this kind of loss so they know what to fix come playoff time and June. Just like last year when the rockets force tha lakers into game 7 and survive a tough 6 games with nuggets. Kobe and Co. manage to win the Championship in 5 games.

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  60. Once my #258 gets out of moderation, please imagine a smiley here and there in that comment.

    Also, I have tickets to the game in Utah, so that better not be the one they lose! 🙁

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  61. @Karl,

    so you are writing off this season now? You just seem that they wont win this year without seeing a game in the playoffs.

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  62. wow, the commenting is pretty ugly around here. the lakers arent playing up to their potential, sure. but they are still on pace to win 61 games. only 2 defending champions have been able to do that in the past 10 years. it isn’t gonna be a walk in the park being the defending champs. and really, just because the lakers are 0-2 against cleveland and denver, people are acting as if there’s zero possibility that the lakers can beat these teams in the playoffs?

    you don’t go from being the favorites to not having a chance just by playing bad regular season games.

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  63. What the hell happened second half?

    It was shocking enough to see Kobe on fire in the 1st quarter and the lakers out in front by 11, then even more surprising to come back to the game and see Josh Powell in with the game tied in the 2nd quarter. I thought that with the plays at the end of the half were a sign of good things – Pau dunking with authority, Artest coming up with defensive stops on Smith… Vujacic even made good plays the second quarter I thought, made good entry passes at least.

    So basically from checking the play-by-play, late 3rd quarter the defense just stopped working completely or what? I saw that Billups had a career night and Smith had 27, but seriously, what happened?

    Certainly a disappointing loss for many reasons, but best not to dwell on this, got to take care of business against a depleted Portland team.

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  64. Furhermore speaking of holding guys accountable. Phil needs to be checked for his lack if effort in truly coaching- the “they will work work it out” motto is out-dated. Fish should take a good look in the mirror and ask himself what is he contributing ad a starter. Maybe think shot less and assist more (ala Nash). Shannon did his job as a bencher so did Farmer. Odom did his ad a six man. But as starters Ron Bynum and Fish played like garbage.

    I hold Laker fans accountable too! Stop dissin on Kobe shot selections than always looking for him to bail the Lakers out!

    And when will the Best player in the leauge get a foul call? Lebron goes to the hoop and gets a call if another player’s fingernail touches him.

    Kobe getting no respect from Refs! I am cling Stu in the morning voicing my concern. But in case he doesn’t answer I’m prepared to just settle with emailing the refs! Tru laker girl here!

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  65. Is the season over? No. But it sure would be nice to see this year’s team nut up and show some of the wannabe champs that the title still comes through L.A.

    I don’t say this solely based on tonight’s loss but on what we’ve seen so far this season: they’ve not won a single “statement” game, other than that early win against Phoenix when people were saying the Suns were back in the hunt. Boston’s more about its reputation than ability these days so a close win there really doesn’t mean as much as it seems on the surface.

    Denver’s slapped the Lakersd twice, as have the Cavs. The Spurs punked them, they dropped a game against the Blazers’ leftovers; and needed miracles to beat the Bucks, Kings and Cavs.

    Call me a pessimist all you like, but there are way more reasons for concern than there signs this team has the stones to win it all. That can change in the next (hopefully) 50 to 60 games, but based on what theyKve shown so far this year I don’t think we could presume the Lakers will win the West, let alone the Finals.

    Every champ has a target on its back, and repeating isn’t easy. But last season was fueled by a desire to prove that the Lakers were better than they showed in the 08 Finals. This season’s Lakers are fueled by …. what exactly? That drive isn’t there, at least not yet. The sense of common purpose is lacking.

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  66. You need to take a look at the Lakers’ record against above .500 teams before you say regular season games don’t matter too much.

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  67. I don’t think commenting about 1 game goes very far, but a continuing problem does warrant continuing comments.

    The problem is our guards – both their shooting and their defense. Their shooting is really compromising our offense and their defense is really compromising our big men.

    Sure there are other things, but nobody’s perfect.

    There was no way we were going to stop Denver tonight – the way they were shooting – but how did they start that shooting…because our guards left them open to get hot.

    Fish was absolutely horrid in the 1st qtr and Kobe’s wandering defense also cost us early. That’s when Denver started to get hot. It was just that it didn’t really burn us until after halftime.

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  68. Bucks, Kings and Heat, I meant to write.

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  69. its funny, if the nuggets shoot a few less threes and the lakers win this game by 5 points or so, people would complain and say it should’ve been more of a blow-out because melo wasn’t in. if the lakers blew em out today, the next time the lakers lose to a good team, people would say that the lakers still don’t have a signature win because that nugget win doesn’t count cuz melo wasn’t playing.

    im usually a negative and frustrated fan. but i’m tired of it. i’m not complaining till the playoffs.

    and honestly, i still see the lakers beating denver in the playoffs.

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  70. It’s hard to blame this game all on the guards. At the Beginning of the game the guards stayed close and tried to contest the 3pt, but with each passing offensive play, when the guards got beat with the pick and roll, our help defense in the middle was lacking. It was a complete team failure on defense today – Bynum didn’t show, so the laker guards would have to sink in towards the driver, leaving the open shot available. The Lakers just aren’t crisp on that end when the other team has real talent and get up in to their skin.
    The real turning point of this game was the Ron Tech. I know that seemed like a non-issue, but the Nuggets were PROVOKING Ron to get that tech. Teams are looking to get under the Lakers skin because once you get the Lakers off kilter this year, they can go real flat. I witnessed a ton of intentional shoves from Kmart, Affalo, etc that were not only not called, but provided a smirk to the players after the fact. It is no coincidence that Billups all the sudden got hotter than he’s ever been in the 3rd – jacking up and swishing threes – the Lakers were pushed out of their own flow on the offensive end, and he smelled blood, with that push in the 3rd q the game was over.
    Credit to the Nuggets to playing their game, they deserved to win both games – as I had this nagging feeling coming into this game (see Lamar Odom pre-game condifence is not there right now, something the Lakers need to build over the course of the rest of the year.
    Now lets see how we respond with even more tired legs over these next three games before the All-Star break. They aren’t statement games so much as games the Lakers should use to help get them in rhythm. The 2nd season starts after Feb 14th, and we play that season till game 82. Lets get after it!!!
    Go Lake Show.

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  71. I wouldn’t worry too much guys… Phil will bench Fisher right after the All Star break as he did with Walton last year to give us a boost for the stretch run. Our best team will be playing the last quarter of the season and we will hit a nice stride. I really wouldn’t worry too much. Right now we are playing half the game 4 on 5.

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  72. @aaron. I don’t think Phil will bench Fish. I agree with you that the best team will be on the floor, and I agree that Farmar is the better basketball player. I get frustrated with Brown more than I get frustrated with Fish/Farmar.

    We have a chicken and the egg battle with touches for our team. Kobe, Pau and Bynum need touches. All three of them. The entry passes by Brown and Farmar aren’t very good and there’s no flow from one side to another.

    I don’t think any game where Brown takes the third most shots, regardless of his shooting percentage for said game, is good.

    Pau Gasol had a good game, just not great. A few more put backs and he would have had a great game. He looked pumped and frustrated at times, but he looked really good. 17 points and 17 rebounds, 9 of them offensive rebounds. Oh and he led the team in assists.

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  73. Darius,

    The Lakers are assembling a convincing body of evidence they don’t have what it takes to succeed in the post season.

    Simply consider their record against the Nuggets and Cavs. They are a “perfect” 0-4 against these two teams they probably need to beat for a repeat. There’s hope yet, but the Lakers need to figure a few things out, and the season is more than 1/2 gone. I’d wager both Denver and Cleveland are confident they can take the Lakers in a playoff series. I would be confident too, if I was in their place.

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  74. 31 of the 39 points Billips scored were aganist Fisher. He is embarrassing himself and the Laker uniform out there. The Lakers WILL NOT got out of the west with him starting.

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  75. @264

    phil definitely makes some very quirky calls but i think he pretty much has earned the right to do weird and unconventional things given the fact that he has a ring for every single finger

    not saying we shouldn’t wonder why he does what he does… but i think we should show a little faith that he knows what he is doing

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  76. #273. R,
    I just can’t agree with you there. Not when the playoffs are so much about team specific game plans; Where adjustments can be crafted and weaknesses can be exploited and strengths diminished and coaching reigns supreme. I’ve seen teams (especially Phil Jackson Lakers’ teams) consistently find ways to beat even the teams that equalled them in talent to discount this Lakers team in the playoffs.

    Now, I do think the regular season can be very important for building a foundation in areas like confidence or in finding the things about your team that you can rely on. And, with that in mind, I agree with you that other teams should feel good about their accomplishments – whether they’ve come against us or not (I’m sure the Lakers felt good about themselves based off some of their performances in last years’ regular season). But in the end, when the second season begins and you have to see the same team over and over again I don’t put too much weight into a lot of what has happened in the regular season because in the playoffs new trends emerge and they’re always opponent specific. And since so much of whatever success you have will be built on your coaches’ ability to determine those trends and exploit your advantage within them, I do think we’ll be just fine. That’s not to say that I guarantee the Lakers will win the title, but I do think they’ll have a very good shot.

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  77. It’s not time to panic, but it’s time for a change. Lakers have yet to play one game of good defense and good offense. They have yet to play a half of good defense and good offense against a good team.

    Our biggest problem is that fisher gives the lakers nothing. Can’t defend can’t score on his own, won’t make the right plays when needed and cant most importantly he’s a shooter that hasn’t shot well for the past year in a half.

    On to farmar, the guy just can’t defend and isn’t comfortable in the triangle.

    Sasha is a shooter that can’t shoot.

    Brown is becoming smush Parker on the defensive end. He has the physical ability but has no clue how to use it. He doesn’t close out on shooters the right way or contest shots when he’s right in front of the defender. Instead of using his really long arms and jumping abilty to distract the shooter be swipes at the ball when the shooter goes up and gets called for the foul. Offensively he can’t pass. I know we always hear the saying when in doubt shoot. well i think he’s always in doubt.

    Now Pau he’s really been off lately. He’s a 50% plus shooter and hasnt hit that percentage consistenly since he’s been.

    They just dont pass Bynum the ball anymore. He’s out there setting screens for farmar and brown.

    (Edited for trade speculation)

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  78. Notwithstanding that the Lakers have clear problems at point guard, I agree with those above who say this was just one of those games. Our defense was far from top notch, but it wasn’t horrible either. Denver just couldn’t miss in the second half. In the playoffs, our perimeter and transition defense will be better, and Denver can’t sustain that level of outside shooting over 2-3 games, let alone seven games. Also, don’t put much stock in the notion that the Nugs would have been even better had Melo played. Melo is known for his offense, not his defense, and it’s hard to imagine Denver’s offense being more effective than it was tonight. Denver will be a tough out, and is definitely capable of winning a series, but I would still bet on the Lakers.

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  79. If Fisher realy cared about this team he would ask to sit down. Nothing worse then I guy who thinks he can still compete but can’t. Phil is becoming a lame duck coach. Everyone can see he can’t guard, he can’t shot, he can’t run the break and can’t make a layup. He is by far the worst point guard in the NBA but Phil can’t see it. WHY?????????/

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  80. @277

    Tend to agree with you, our overall defense and rotations as well as creating turnovers will be there in the playoffs. 15 three pointers is tough to overcome for any team in any arena.

    I don’t see how some of these Laker fans have no faith in a team that has been to the finals 30 times and won 15 World Championships in 62 NBA seasons.

    Its one thing I’ve leanered being a Laker fan 4life, is that we SHOW UP for the playoffs and IF we don’t win it all that year u best bet we’ll be their next year.

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  81. If it makes anyone feel better… The Cavs also lost to Denver without Carmelo

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  82. I have not read the thread, but the only take-away from this game is something we already knew: the Lakers simply cannot stay in front of guys like Ty Lawson. Farmar was almost as bad as Fisher. I assume this is one reason Mark Warkentien wanted Lawson so badly.

    Other than that, Chauncey Billups had a career game in what has been great career, and JR Smith shot the lights out, as he will do–sometimes. Carmelo Anthony’s absence was irrelevant.

    I recall one play in which Gasol hit Bynum with a pass inside for an easy deuce. I have been saying for several months that I want to see some structured high-low action and cross screening to get them working TOGETHER, as a weapon, on the offensive end.

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  83. Meh, no big deal. Pau and Odom played with the aggressive mentality that we ask of them. Denver just hit impossible shots over and over. Even if we swept Cle and Den their confidence would still be high and think they can beat us. I’d rather us not reveal any late game tactics to them and save it for the playoffs. None of these games matter.

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  84. Denver reminds me of the 02 Kings. Defiant and streaky. They believe they are better and desperately want to prove it. Let them waste their stuff and get their “proving” out of the way in the regular season. Playoff basketball is entirely different, and they’ll be in a refractionary period.

    Let’s not overlook the absurdity of last night’s 3 point math. 15-22 from 3 pt. range is the equivalent of 100% from 2. They got 45 points on just 22 threes. That’s the equivalent of making all 22 attempts from two land. That will not happen again.

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  85. How can anyone not get frustrated with Fisher after the 1st quarter? He was driving to the lane to get his shots blocked, missed lay ups, pulled up and missed 3’s early in the shot clock. I’m on the play Fish fewer minutes bandwagon now. Is there a stat in the league that measures how many shots a player gets blocked? I bet Fisher is leading that one.

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  86. are we really panicking here? or is this simply a matter of bringing down expectations to a more reasonable level. I seem to recall preseason talk, in this forum, of an unprecedented four-peat!

    p.s. – I’d still be interested to read who, besides Denver, Hollinger picks as the second serious challenger in the West. Utah?

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  87. lakersfansincemikan,
    Hollinger had Utah as the second true contender to the Lakers. They’ve been red hot lately and have been either #1 or #2 in his power rankings for the past week or so.

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  88. This game doesn’t have me concerned at all, the Lakers actually didn’t play that bad, but Denver shot the lights out, which happens now and then with jumpshooting teams.

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  89. For further discussion, here’s our record so far against the teams we might face in the playoffs.

    EAST
    Cleveland 0-2
    Boston 1-0
    Orlando 1-0
    Atlanta 1-0

    WEST
    Denver 0-2
    Dallas 2-1
    Utah 1-1
    Phoenix 2-1
    San Antonio 0-1
    Portland 0-1
    OKC 3-0

    Total against these teams
    11-9

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  90. Nuggets scare me-they shoot well and play without fear. Love Shannon Brown, what happened to him being a defensive stopper as Chauncey goes for a career high. Something missing Lakers, long season indeed, but time to play with heart and as a team.

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