Preview and Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Darius Soriano —  February 28, 2010

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Records: Lakers 44-15 (1st in West), Nuggets 39-19 (2nd in West, 4.5 games behind Lakers)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 108.8 (9th in NBA), Nuggets 112.4 (2nd in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.0 (1st in NBA), Nuggets 107.2 (16th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Nuggets: Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Nene

A budding rivalary:  There are only a handful of games each regular season that I truly get excited for.  An 82 game regular season is a long campaign and there are just too many games on the schedule for me, as a fan, to truly get too worked up over.  Like most Lakers fans, a match up with Boston is one of them.  I also love to see the Lakers (and Kobe) go up against the Cavs (and Lebron).  But, besides those marquee games, few others get me perked up and looking ahead.  A match up with the Nuggets has joined that list.  Simply put, I like to see the Lakers match up with the best teams and Denver is in that group.

In fact, coming in, one could argue that the Nuggets are the best team in the league.  Sure, they’re only 6-4 in their last ten games (which is still pretty good) but in those games they’ve beaten both the Lakers and the Cavs – the two teams that most media and fans cite as the league’s best.  And there are stats to back up Denver’s status as one of the league’s top squads.  They have a league best 7-1 record against division leading teams.  And they’re not only beating those teams, they’re winning by an average of double digits.  We all remember the hot shooting that sunk the Lakers back in on the fifth of this month where Denver’s offensive onslaught was both amazing to watch and terrifying as they showed their capabilities – and all without ‘Melo.  And while the Nuggs game against the Cavs wasn’t a blowout, most fans also recall that back and forth game that ended with Carmelo sinking a game winning jumper right in Lebron James’ face.  Denver made wins look easy while also showing the grit that the truly great teams have.  So you’re likely not going to find a team with more self belief than the Nuggets.  And in today’s game, we see a matchup where both teams are sure to want to prove that they are the team to beat in the Western Conference.

To add to the already electric atmosphere of two of the top teams in the West playing is the fact that Denver really dislikes the Lakers and gets up to play them.  Our have acknowledged this and know where Denver’s mindset is.  And there are Nuggets players that have no trouble expressing their thoughts about the Lakers.  This is how it goes when teams develop that dislike of each other.  A dislike from facing off in the playoffs in consecutive years.  And when one team is the victor in those series, the bad blood builds and the team that is on top becomes the focus of all the other team’s energy.  The prevailing team becomes the measuring stick and if that team can be knocked off, the sky is the limit.  This is where Denver is right now.  They have the confidence.  The Lakers have not beaten the Nuggets this season.  Now, that want to prove exists for both teams.  The Lakers want this game too.  They want to win this game, and to do that, certain things must occur.

Keys to the game:  Defense is where you must start when analyzing how to beat the Nuggets.  They are the 2nd most efficient offense in the league and if you want to beat them, you must find a way to slow their potent attack.  It all starts with the two headed monster of ‘Melo and Billups.  Stopping ‘Melo is easier said than done.  For the past two seasons, I’ve thought that Melo rivals Kobe as the most complete offensive player in the game.  He’s got every offensive move in the book and can score from any spot from the floor with ease.  So, if you’re going to slow him you need a plan of attack.  It starts with making it tough for him to catch the ball.  Ron has the strength and the quickness to make catches more difficult for Anthony.  So Ron should use his strong body to contest Carmelo’s position all over the court and deny passes.  However, Melo is going to get the ball, so the next step is to crowd Carmelo and make him put the ball on the ground.  There isn’t a player in the league that uses the triple threat position better than Anthony.  He loves to jab step and then either shoot the jumper or take one dribble and then shoot.  Make Carmelo finish at the rim over our bigs.  It’s not the most full proof plan I admit, but when a guy averages almost 30 points a game, you have to give up something.  Slowing Chauncey is actually quite similar to the plan used for ‘Melo.  Billups loves to get space to create his jumper and will look to draw fouls when you crowd him.  If you can take away his (very effective) PUJIT’s, and make him use his dribble without giving him the chance to jump into you to draw the foul, you will win your match up with Billups.  I expect the Lakers to use bigger defenders on Chauncey and that likely means Kobe.  With Sasha out and Ron likely locked on Anthony all game, Kobe is the only guy that we have that can both pressure Billups’ jumper while still having the quickness to not get beat to the basket.  And with Kobe’s experience in guarding Billups over the years, I think we’ll get extended looks at this matchup today.

The other key to slowing Denver’s offense is limiting the Nugg’s fastbreak chances and points in transition – especially against their second unit.  Denver’s bench trio of Lawson, Smith, and Birdman are guys that love to get up and down the floor and will push the pace at every opportunity.  The Lakers can accomplish this slow down in two ways.  First is to hit the offensive glass hard.  Denver is not one of the better defensive rebounding teams, ranking 20th in defensive rebounding rate.  It will be difficult for Denver to run if they’re having trouble securing the ball in the first place.  So, Pau/Drew/LO need to hit the offensive glass hard.  The second way is to run to the paint and create a wall in transition on defense.  Smith and Billups are the only Nuggets that instinctively run to the three point line – everyone else loves to attack the paint.  The Lakers have been a good team at congesting the paint in transition this season and they’ll need their best effort in this regard today.  If the Lakers can get back effectively and still find Smith and Billups in transition when they run to the three point line, I think it will go a long way in limiting Denver’s chances to get the open shots that they’ve converted in our previous games against them

On offense, the Lakers need to stick to the script that appears every time I write one of these previews.  Run the Triangle offense.  Denver is not a strong defensive team, but they do excel at certain aspects of defense.  One thing Denver does well is defend the P&R.  Both Nene and Martin have quick feet and are very good at hedging on the ball handler and then recovering to their man.  The other thing that Denver does well is help on penetration in the paint with blocked shots (the Nuggs are 4th in the league in blocked shot %).  So, I’d implore the Lakers to run their sets and not rely on screen and roll actions or dribble penetration from wing isolations when on offense.  Instead, post the ball with our bigs and wings and then screen and cut off the ball.  In the playoffs last season, Kobe lived on the weakside pinch post in games 5 and 6 and the results were devastating.  Today, he needs to get back to that position on the floor and work his turn around jumper while also using his turn and face game to get easy shots at the rim.  The Lakers also need to establish Pau on the block against Kenyon Martin.  Martin is a solid defender and can play roughhouse ball on the block, but Pau is too skilled to be held down for an entire game.  The same is true of the Bynum/Nene match up as Drew has a size advantage over the Brazilian and he needs to work hard to establish deep post position so he can exploit it.

This is also a game where the Lakers’ bench will need to play well and stay away from the sloppy play that has plagued them for the past week.  Farmar and Shannon must be smart with the ball in transition and make good post entries.  They cannot rely on just going through the motions and then settling for what is easy for them.  They must do everything with purpose and not fall into the trap of taking long jumpers or over using their dribble.  They need to look to the post first and then if that option is not there, they need to look to reverse the ball to the top side guard or to the pressure release flashing to the FT line.  Odom will also be key (as always).  In last season’s playoff match up with Denver it was stellar play from Odom that helped turn the series around.  His dunk over Birdman was just one example of how an energetic and active LO can make a difference.  Needless to say, that Odom is what is needed in today’s game.

In end, this is a game that is likely to be close and hard fought.  I think the Lakers know that this game has meaning beyond just “1 of 82″ and will play with the urgency that has been missing in some of their recent contests.  It should be a great one.  Let’s get that win.

Nuggets Blogs:  For Denver’s perspective on this game, check out the work that Jeremy is doing at Roundball Mining Company.  Smart analysis and good insight are the norm over there.

Where you can watch: 12:30pm start in the West on ABC.  Also on ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

Posts

194 responses to Preview and Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. Missed the Warren shout-out by 7 minutes!

    But I enjoyed the preview Darius. I’m very much hoping that the Laker team you describe shows up with the necessary intensity and handling the Nuggets’ threats in the way that they need to.

  2. Lets go LA! and look for Canada to win that gold in Mens Hockey!!!

  3. if the lakers plays hard in this game, even if they lost.. it would at least ease some of my worry regarding their mental intensity.

    I am admitting that denver will be one of our toughest foes enroute to the finals.

    please play hard!!

  4. I’d like to see the second unit backcourt play with some poise and intelligence today. Smith and Lawson have dominated the last 2 matchups off the bench. I don’t mind if they end up scoring more points (they are better players in a general sense) but they can’t be allowed to run riot and dictate the tempo. We all know Farmar and Brown are more comfortable pushing the ball and taking quick shots, but they can’t beat Denver’s reserves at that game.

  5. This rivalry is beginning to take the shape of the Kings-Lakers in 2000-2002. Like those Kings, the Nuggets are a defiant bunch. They truly believe they are better than the World Champions, and they don’t hide their contempt for the throne.

  6. Hoping that the Lakers put on a great show today. Since I unfortunately work graveyard, I’ll be watching this game at “my 2:00 in the morning.” Hopefully it’s worth it.

    Off topic: Does ANYONE know where to get those Bruce Lee edition Kobe 5’s that he’s wearing in the thread picture above? Unfortunately there is no house of hoops around me and I don’t know a trusting web site but would be willing to (use the net) if I knew it was legit. Thanks.

  7. Because the Lakers have been nothing short of embarrassed over the last 2 meetings, look for LA to jump on Denver quick. I have my (real) money on them winning by atleast 8.

    The matchup talk about these 2 teams will spring from now until May. I believe this is the team to beat if we want to represent the West in the finals once more. Sure Dallas made the biggest leap, and it has paid dividends so far, but never underestimate the heart of a champion – and Denver has it in Chauncey. Melo is out there to score 1-0 against his batchmate Bron Bron and tie with the Wade. So look for him to be very hungry, esp that they have an inspiration (George Karl’s cancer).

    I don’t mean to say the last line in offense, but rather in the deep respect of the man George Karl is with his illness. But what I’d like to point out is that people with a sense of purpose (doing it for X) might be more motivated to go out of themselves and win something.

    As seen in many games, the Lakers’ biggest problems is themselves. Its not Denver or Cleveland or Boston… LA’s biggest nemesis is itself. Which Kobe shows up… Which Lamar shows up… Which Bynum shows up… Which Fish shows up… Which Pau shows up… heck even which Phil Jackson shows up. So book me on this: the Lakers will win big but only because Denver kicked our butts on our previous 2 meetings and they kicked it pretty bad.

    Today, the purpose is ours.

  8. Jeremy, your “2am shift” sounds very weird to me. Do you live in Australia?

    In the Philippines, the game will be 330am. Since its not on TV (iono why, and the Philly game is LOL) I will be waking up with a win.

  9. Warren- Sorry for the miscommunication, I meant it figuratively since I’m practically nocturnal. I’m a Californian stationed at an Air Force Base in the Bay Area. I was more portraying how this game is literally taking place when I should be dead asleep.

  10. I think Phil purposely made those comments in the news about being complacent to start the Lakers blood boiling. Honestly, I don’t even think they wanted to play Philadelphia and it looked like it. I think we are going to see some great and dominant Laker basketball today. Lakers by double digits. This will be LA’s statement game of the season, and a vision of whats going to happen in the playoffs. Ron Ron is going to dog Melo all over the place. Bynum will have a good game also. We shall see.

  11. hei warren, i’m from Indonesia..
    and i’ll be waking up at 3.30 am too..

    i really hope the lakers play hard!!
    the last couple of games that i watched (both lakers vs cavs and lakers vs denver), lakers are not playing hard!

  12. The importance of this game is huge! If Denver beats the Lakers again they ARE the best in the West. Looking at the Laker upcoming away games in April it is very probable Denver will catch the Lakers for the best record in the West.

    Imagine the Lakers playing a 7th game at Denver in the playoffs?

    Also imagine Lakers not getting out of the West?
    Also imagine Phil not coming back for another $12 million?
    Now finish with the real purpose of Spike Lee’s Kobe being Koby Video earlier this year and Kobe not yet signing his extension?

    If you think Phil ending his career the place he started it is a stretch and Kobe, Bosh and Lee playing in the garden is a stetch, well don’t be! A promise of 2 or 3 Spike Lee commericals or hirings from Lee to Kobe would make up the difference in money lost leaving the Lakers. Spike admits he would do anything to make that happen. Kobe would make more more and own New York as would Phil.

    So based on my theories the Lakers had better beat Denver today or the sky is falling!

    Ok just trying to scare my fellow Laker fan here in Newport Beach California.

  13. By the way the above theory did not come from me. It was suggested from one of my best friends who is a sports agent for a top agency that also reps several top players in basketball and baseball.

  14. Ken,
    Yeah, because agent speculation and theory is usually spot on. And while I agree that this is a big game, let’s not go overboard with it’s implications. Also, the Nuggs are 4.5 games back not 2.5 as you mentioned.

    I’d suggest living more in the moment and not focussing so much on negativity. Enjoy the ride, man.

  15. I know but I was hoping to get people more into the game and promote thoughts.

    As for agent stuff. I was one for 12 years and it is all about packaging. Movies end up being packaged when the producer or director is with that agency and the stars are part of the deal.

    The Phil, Kobe Spike Lee theory is not as far fetched as it sounds although I would not bet my lunch on it. Any idea how much indorcement money Jeter makes in New York? Lots!

    Also I corrected myself on games ahead in edit.

  16. I’ve been looking forward to this game all week! It’s going to be aggressive, physical, ad there may be blood. It may well become very ugly.

    It’s going to be great.

    GO LAKERS!!

  17. Good luck to all us Lakers fans today. I am on my way to the game to yell at Fish and remind Phil to call a time out.

    Expect a close one today.

    Someone guard Phillips and Smith.

    Please!

  18. The Nuggets had the talent to beat the Lakers last season. Sure they give up punch up front, but they are strong at PG where the Lakers are weak. What got the Lakers over last season was Denver’s inability to hold the mental edge.

    JR Smith is a dangerous player. He can single handedly change a game. He is also a hot head. When his emotions take over he does not make good decisions.

    Even with Nene, Martin, and Birdman upfront the Lakers still have a better frontline. Pau, Andrew, and Lamar need to be very active and involved to offset what will surely be a big game from Denver’s guards. Lawson and Billips have been problems for the Lakers this year. I know this has been said many times, but I will say it again. The Lakers need to exploit their strengh. I’d love to see 20+ from Pau, 15+ from Drew, and 15+ from Lamar.

    Either way, the Lakers NEED to beat this team. They can’t go 0-3 against this team for the regular season.

  19. I’m not ashamed to say that I prayed for the Lakers to play this game hard and win by any means necessary in church this morning.

  20. Denver are our real rivals and I want to beat them. Just like Portland and then Sacramento, they love playing against us, and they think they are better. I would like it today if we shut them up, with their smug attitudes and ugly uniforms and send back to Denver with a loss. This is a big game because will play them in the playoffs. They are better than Utah and Dallas. They also think they should’ve won the series last year.

    To win, we to blah, go inside, blah, defend the three, blah, blah, blah.

    To win, Kobe needs to be the player on the planet, and luckily he is

  21. I am not so concerned about any ‘psychological impact’ if the Lakers lose today. I am more concerned about the actual basketball matchups. The Nuggets bigs match the Lakers bigs (not in skill, but in energy and toughness). Melo matches Kobe in go to superstar. Billups and Odom match each other as the wild cards who can make or break the team by showing up or not.

    I’m hopeful that the Lakers can put it together and play up to their potential. I believe the Lakers can win, but they wil have to all bring their A-games.

  22. Longtime Nuggets fan here. It has been very exciting to watch the games between our teams this season. While I won’t go as far to say before the game that I wish you the best, I sincerely hope to see a strong effort from both of our teams. Any chance Mbenga will see any court time today?

    With respect.

    -Beefy

  23. Beefy,
    Welcome. Come and visit any time. I think we will see that strong effort and high level performance from both teams. As for a Mbenga sighting, maybe for spot minutes at the end of the first half if both Pau/’Drew have a couple of fouls. But besides that scenario, I think it’s doubtful.

  24. This Spurs/Suns game is excellent. I’m pretty sure when Pop and RC Buford traded for Jefferson, *this* is the guy they wanted.

  25. What a blunder by J-Rich. Two-time SDC champion. I’m sure he feels horrible.

  26. Huge game. Expect playoff atmosphere. Denver is riding high after sweeping the season series against Cleveland & TOTALLY DOMINATING us in the 2 previous meetings.

    Key 2 the game will be controlling Mr. Big Shot. Melo will def get his but what we can’t allow is Big Shot having one of his lights out games, which he had in our previous meeting.

    We still have the advantage up front with Pau & Drew against Martin & Nene, so the game should be played inside out. Hopefully, Kobe will play within the system & not try 2 take on Denver by himself.

  27. please,any link to watch on line?
    thank you

  28. what happend to fish?

  29. 29

    2 quick fouls…

  30. Denver’s come out hot with both Billups and Aflalo hitting early long balls. The D has been okay so far, but the offense has not yet looked crisp. On that last play where Pau got stripped, he either went too fast or Shannon’s clear through cut was late. Either way, the spacing was ruined.

  31. I want to see aggressive Lamar

  32. Turnovers? Ugh. Lakers need to take better care of the ball and read the defense better. Make the simple play that is available and not force the action to a predetermined option.

  33. Anyone have a link for those of us not in the US?

  34. slow down guys, run the offense

  35. Seems like the nuggets have their hiking boots on today and climbing our backs all over the place….

  36. Wow, this is ugly.

  37. This is some really sloppy offense.

  38. jeez wake up guys, why is shannon going under screens on billups?

  39. Sometimes I think it might just be simple focus issues with this team, I dont know how else we explain wide open missed layups and dropping easy passes

  40. The Lakers are not in this game at all. Brown and Kobe have done a horrible job defending the three. Kobe with his laziness and Brown just doing everything wrong. The Lakers obviously don’t want to defend, so it looks like they are going to have to outscore the Nuggets. If thats how they have to win, it’s going to be a long night.

  41. I love Karl’s choice to double team Bynum and make him give the ball up. Andrew has been our best offensive player in the 1st quarters as that is usually the only time the team goes down low to him on a semi consistent basis. The only troubling thing there is that Denver thinks Drew is the only Lakers worth doubling or “shading’. And so far they are right. I’d like to see Kobe start being able to demand double teams again. He hasn’t so far this season for the most part. That has a lot to do with his great teammates though.

  42. Phil said that the Lakers were playing as though the Nuggets were a gym team, but I’d go further and say the Lakers are playing like THEY are some YMCA team. 2 blown fast breaks.

  43. The Lakers do not respond well to being pushed around.

    Stop looking for the referees to help you out. Foul someone. Toss an elbow. Get a technical. Take a stand and show the more aggressive teams that you are perfectly willing to hurt them back.

    FORCE the referees to call a tight game.

  44. Where is Jordan Farmar?

  45. I agree with Joel, except that if we are going to beat the nuggets by over-shooting them…its not going to be a long night…its going to be a short night with a blowout. Our offensive execution won’t be great until our defense gives us opportunities

  46. On a positive note, Carmelo is really being made to work for his points so far.

  47. 8 turnovers so far. That is supposed to be closer to a game total on TO’s

  48. they are going to blow us out again if we dont start taking care of the ball.

  49. 8 TO’s by the Lakers, 13 FT’s already for the Nuggets.

    Not inspired play.

  50. lets face it, if kobe is gonna play like this we aint winning anything

  51. 10 FTA’s halfway through the 1st?

    The NBA is fannnnnntastic!

  52. get ready to hear some boos

  53. Don’t try this at home, kids. These are professionals.

  54. The lack of aggressiveness and hustle is borderline embarrasing for the home crowd

  55. Bynum should sit down for that horrible pass

  56. The Lakers are getting decent shots, but not hitting them. They’re playing too much defense with their hands instead of their feet.

    This game is going to get ugly fast – assuming you don’t already consider it ugly.

  57. Unless we really wake up Denver is rolling to another big win. We look a step slower and out of synch. Not good when we are playing the clear #2 team in our conference. Way too many fouls and sloppy passing. We are settling for perimeter shots when we should be establishing ourselves down low. Here’s to a comeback in tje 2nd half. Go Lakers.

  58. I know Bynum skipped straight from high school, did he also skip the grade where you learn how to count to three? Seems like we endure 2-3 turnovers a game because of his mental lapses, enough is enough. The coaching staff have to demand that he be more disciplined mentally.

  59. call me Mr Negativity if you like, but I don’t think we can beat this team. their guards are better, their bench is better, and the rest is pretty much a wash.

  60. Lakers do look sloppy today.

    Not sure what is up with Kobe. Is he still hurt?

    From what I am seeing, Denver does not look like they are better than the Lakers, but they look like they’ve played together as a team for a few months and Lakers look like it’s an early preseason game.

  61. How many times have we thrown away the ball right after a good defensive play? Or I guess the question is how many more times are they going to? Between that and the two transistion buckets we blew at the end of the 1st, this has bee a big pothole in our so called “journey” frequently spoken of here. I hope Kobe brought the spare tire for the second half.

    Now let me get back at cursing out the T.V.

  62. Chewy

    touche

    But its going to be a long day for us fans having to watch this mess.

    Didn’t this team win a championship last season? The lakers really need to settle down and focus on both ends of the court.

  63. Lol, Artest cant make a layup

  64. how did they miss that push off from melo

  65. #59, I agree, Denver is defintely better, they are so much more agressive, stronger, and they shoot lights out. On top of that, they have talent that matches the Lakers.

  66. lol, Joel….true that…my eyes are bleeding right now…wheres that tissue..

  67. I really wish Laker players would stop complaining about fouls and just play the game, we are getting pushed around once again and nobody has pushed back on this team

  68. Denver is more agressive. The Lakers can’t hit the outisde jumpers which leads to Denver getting into early offense which puts the Lakers defense on their heels

  69. Denver is a lot better. they are the best team. So is cleveland. I don’t think i need to watch the rest of the season…

    OR

    I can just stop reading game threads during the game. Yah. I’ll do that.

  70. apparently the refs are allowing a lot of contact, so you have to go back to running the triangle and getting easier baskets off cutters/screens. Forcing the ball off the dribble or just trying to bum rush the paint is not going to work.

  71. Denver plays with an edge that, when not held in check, can also turn into their greatest weakness. But despite that potential for disaster, they definitely have an aggressiveness our team hasn’t shown for some time.

    Repeating was never going to be easy. As the Spurs have slipped, it looks like we may have another rival in the Western Conference to take their place.

  72. If lakers are to win this game they need to

    Rebound
    Stop turning the ball over
    and be agressive inside. The only players being aggressive inside is artest and bynum. Odom and Gasol settling for jumpers (this is becoming to common when they play against a physical team)

    Brown shouldn’t be in the game. He can’t defend anyone because of lack of fundamentals and he hasn’t shot well so its no point of him being in the game since he can’t run the offense.

    Lakers need to cut this lead to 6 before the half.

  73. 23 to 4 for Free Throws….

    You MUST throw an elbow from time to time. It is a physical game. Be a professional, and rattle someone. GET YOUR MONEY”S WORTH.

  74. Kobe has to make the adjustment and shorten his dribble because Smith is letting him go by him

  75. 62. VoR

    I was thinking the same thing about Kobe. I noticed that very little was said about his finger’s progress during his time off. I think it may be worse than we’ve been told.

    The problem is that this team is so Kobe-centric that they cannot compete unless he is playing at or very close to 100%. Sloppiness and indifference are secondary problems that should no longer be an issue once the playoffs start.

    The biggest and scariest problem is that this team simply does not shoot well outside, so when Kobe’s hand is messed up, the team is messed up.

  76. Kobe looks like he’s sleepwalking out there.

  77. lets be honest, kobe was awful that half

  78. Wow small lineup. I’m just boxscore watching, so why Powell guarding Nene instead of Mbenga? Speed? I’d imagine Nene must have burned Mbenga on the P&R or backdoor a couple times.

  79. I love Bynum but I will say it again come playoff time he will be useless and be in foul trouble the entire time, the way teams like Denver and Cleveland play he cannot stay on the floor because of his poor defense

    And Kobe is trying to get everyone involved by passing first and not shooting like everyone always wants him to except nobody is doing much with the ball besides Artest. This is a game where we need him to be a shooter and attack nonstop.

  80. I dont think it is a lack of effort, this team just cant execute offensively. The Lakers however, have a tendency to struggle against agressive defense.

  81. God, just sloppy play everywhere by the Lakers.

    Poor passing, and poor shot selection, missed layups. And most of all, they’re letting Denver push them around. They REEEEALLLY need to clean up their act.

  82. i think its time for mbenga and a little flagrant foul… kinda feel like thats gonna help more than what were doing right now. nothing dirty, just a little restistance instead of allowing layups. love what artest is doing by the way, he makes melo work a lot. i´d keep powell in the game for now, he is doing good things. also, pau will have more energy down the stretch. lets hope that mamba wakes up soon

  83. The issue with sloppy play has really come to a head over the last four games. 17 TO’s against Memphis and Dallas with another 14 in the first half today. If the Lakers expect to get an offensive run going, they need to stop giving the ball away. They’d also be better off if they stop reaching and grabbing on defense and playing better perimeter D so our bigs can stop fouling the penetrator.

  84. Phil here is the lineup to put in the game, Farmar, Kobe, Artest Odom and Gasol it is the only way they can match up defensively and still flow offensively

  85. The Lakers’ shooting is improving by leaps and bounds. If they could stop fouling and turning the ball over, this game would be a route the other way.

    To wit: The Lakers were shooting under 40% in the first quarter, and ended the half shooting 46% while Denver is shooting 40%.

    19 points off of turnovers and 16 points at the freethrow line have Denver up 9 points.

    Stop playing like amateurs out there and the Lakers are up by 15 at least.

  86. The Lakers very well may end up winning the championship but anyone who has watched these 2 and a half games against the nuggets so far this season and still thinks at this point in the season the Lakers are the better team is nuts…I have faith that the Lakers playoff experience and Kobes ability to play up in big games will put them over the edge, but right now Denver is the better team

  87. denver might be better right now, but their confidence and energy is sometimes also their weakness. they overreact when things dont go their way, and they love collecting technicals, just like the celts. the only way you beat them is by playing calm, taking care of the ball and pounding it inside all the time. hope we will see that in the second half

  88. Lakers will be 3 and 8 aganist division team. They are playing like losers. Bynam is worthless. There is no way Lakers can beat Denver if they don’t have the best record and they probably won’t. Denver is outworking the Laker/

    Denver is a better team and the Lakers show no pride.

    I am embarrassed by this team right now.

    How does Kobe have 5 turnovers?

    How does Fisher and Bynam version of defense turn to fouls.

    23 fouls to 5

  89. I think the problem as always is we don’t feed the post enough. Bynum got the ball 5 times in the post and was doubled 3 times. We scored on all three of the double teams and Drew scored on one of the two times he wasn’t doubled. I think Gasol got the ball once in the post to start the game and scored. And that was it for our big guys. We put the ball in the post to our bigs and we control the pace and control the game. Its almost that simple.

  90. Denver much more aggressive. Simply put, they want it more. We’re looking scared out there. Pau & LO shooting jumpers & not matching the energy & physical outcome of the Nuggets. Where r our PG’s?

    With all considered, we’re still only down by 9. Should b much more considering the free throw discrepancy. We need 2 show up in the 2nd half.

  91. Aaron,
    I agree. But, when the Lakers struggle to make outside jumpers the defense sags and takes away entry pass angles. And then when trying to create to keep perimeter defenders honest, the Lakers are sloppy and giving the ball away. They need to be more crisp with their ball reversals and more steady with their ball handling. When the ball can ably move from strong to weakside, the post entries will come.

  92. If the Lakers dont come out with some fire under their behinds they will risk being blown out of the gym

  93. Good job feeding Bynum to start the half.

    Artest continues to have an excellent game at both ends.

  94. props to artest, been our best player tonight, keep going inside!!

  95. That’s exactly what Kobe and Artest can do TOGETHER defensively

  96. Passes need to get crisper and faster. They are getting the ball to where they want it…just not quick enough so the defense has enough time to adjust and rotate to get into good position to contest

  97. Artest defense on Melo has been magnificent…

  98. They are scared? Do you really believe that? Scared of what? It’s a basketball game. You know it’s ok to admit that Nuggets are just better right now without having to resort to cliches like “they are scared”, “they want it more”.

  99. No way Denver is better than LA regarding talent.
    Melo is not better than Kobe and Billups is a good PG with lots of leadership. And that it is.
    Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Artest and Odom, there is no matching for that in the world.
    LA is the best team by far. You will see no that talent together in years.

    Denver, they are physical because they are not that talented (as normally is the case with physical teams).
    But they will win if LA is not able to match the effort and and play the way they can play basketball.

    LA needs to start playing as a team. Play the triangle, play the sets, trust each other, everyone having the same idea of what they are doing, and then their talent will appear and make the difference.

  100. This is why we brought Artest in

  101. I hate to say this but I think many of us already realize that the Lakers are not going to win the ring this year. They just don’t have the right mindset to repeat.

    Denver already knows how to beat the Lakers and they actually have all the parts to do it in a 7 game series. Quick guards, or ones who can hit the 3 pointer, aggressive rebounding/blocking shots, play rough and Lakers collapse mentally.

    These guys can’t even protect home court against the tough teams. Stop talking about wait til the playoffs. Both teams know that this game is crucial for mentality. If Denver sweeps 4 games which is very possible – no way we win in the playoffs.

    Lakers actually lucked out last year, and this year Denver isn’t going to let it happen again.

    Oh well.

  102. Gasol is killing us, he should have 16 rebounds right now

  103. Jerry save yourself the time and just stop watching and commenting. Its obviously a waste of ur time.

    The lakers need to start finishing plays. Be it getting the rebound after a miss or getting the ball after a deflection. Heavy legs out there.

    There has been something off about our best 2 players…Kobe and Gasol

  104. bynum wake up

  105. This nuggets team is really good

  106. Kobe needs to attack on the offensive end, we simply cannot keep up on the offense end without him scoring like he normally does, he is NOT a distributor he is a scorer and he leads by scoring

  107. Had a nice run, and then let off the gas.

    I honestly think that the Lakers were just making sure that gear was there. But as it is still, you know, February I don’t think the Lakers are willing to be beat up to win this game.

    That will change in the Playoffs, if Denver can make it to the Western Finals, which I doubt they can.

    Anyway, barring a major shift in the Laker’s desire today, we will lose by 8 or so.

    No big deal comparatively.

    The season STARTS in the Playoffs. This is still just the Pre-Season.

    (( Love the way they are talking up Billups… He has one ring. That is nice. So do all of the Lakers, except Artest. ))

  108. Nice to see a little fire and hustle, not to mention cold shooting by the Nuggets.

  109. too everyone who has been bashing fisher: the energy he plays with right now, the 3 pointers and so on… thats why he is playing.

  110. Aaron Afflalo + Ty Lawson= The reason the Nuggets are better than they were last year.

  111. Nobody other than maybe sefalosha guards kobe better than afflalo…he is another huge difference in the nugs this year…hes a huge upgrade from dahntay jones

  112. one of those strips must be a foul, never seen kobe struggle like this

  113. A lay up by FISHER there is HOPE

  114. can i say FISHER one more time? thank you

  115. Here is the one thing about Kobe playing distributor he may be getting others involved but he is taking himself out of the game. Usually at the end of the games we need him to make tough shots to help us win but when he’s passed a whole game and doesnt have much offensive flow he doesnt have time to work his jump shot back into the game so that he can hit those big shots the team so desperately needs.

  116. U.S.A!!! U.S.A!!!!

  117. awesome defense by artest tonight

  118. Kobe has more turnover then points. Nice and Bynnam has 4 3 second calls. This is a champ team? Out coached and out played

  119. I can’t see the Lakers losing this. To me, Kobe looks just pissed enough not to let that happen. (Even though he’s not having a good shooting night.)

  120. People here still think this game doesnt mean much to the Lakers??? Kobe starting in the 4th shows that it’s important and Phil knows it too

  121. Is that black ref Derrick Stafford, if so then he never gives the lakers calls. He missed two call in a row right in front of him.

  122. im saying this right here: our team beats any team if you just get them pissed enough. and denver managed to do just that. thank you, next

  123. Is it me or does Kobe not get the calls he used to get? It feels to me like Lebron gets those type of calls all the time? All you have to do it tap lebron and hes going to the line for two

  124. Did Marc Jackson just say “agressiful”?

    :)

  125. 126. Its defo true, kobe barks too much at refs and they are sick of it while lbj sweet talks them all game

  126. Those who think this game isnt that big is crazy. This is a huge game….Denver has all the confidence in the world against this team right now and if they win this one, and make it 2 wins on our homecourt, that is going to make a difference in a playoff matchup

  127. Jordan how embarassing

  128. The Lakers are better with Lamar and Gasol on the frontline, but Odom and Artest have been the difference in the game

  129. Keep attacking if your the lakers, dont setlle for outside shots

  130. Terrible, we had all the momentum and we let them come right back and tie it

  131. That drives me crazy.

    Fisher barely brushes Billup’s elbow, with a fingertip while he was on the way up and not shooting yet, and that is a foul.

    Gasol gets HAMMERED by Martin under the rim and nothing…

    Drives me crazy.

  132. Once again that is a shot Pau has to dunk.

    Time to switch Kobe onto Billups on defense

  133. well fish has turned the game, nice on phil

  134. Mark Jackson said that Ron Artest has not played good defense this year with the Lakers. Unbelievable.

  135. o no! melo, where is the smile?!?

  136. That is a weak sixth foul on Carmelo.

  137. feel bad for melo very harsh

  138. too many crap calls. the touchfoul that fouled melo out was a makeup for the touchfoul called on ron.

  139. You gotta love Ron’s reaction to that foul though:D

  140. Artest is the DIFFERENCE in this game! Odom has been huge, but Artest brought it tonight in every way imaginable. I am happy he let his emotions show after Melo picked up his 6th. Ron Ron is ON!

  141. Great rotations by Pau. Horrible discipline from th e Nuggets. They didn’t need threes in that situation.

  142. Lakers dodging bullets left and right on that one, but like I said earlier if Kobe doesnt get himself involved early enough he wont knock down these shots when we need him, he has to find a balance between facilitating and shooting the ball although that’s easier said than done

  143. Didn’t start watching till now, because I just got done watching the best hockey game of my lifetime.

  144. “They’re trying to foul Gasol, but obviously not hard enough.” Yeah, just like all night.

    For all the whining from Mark Jackson about Pau, he’s come up with three big plays down the stretch: The score, the block and the tip.

  145. For all the eulogising of Billups, his decision-making in the last minute or so has been atrocious.

  146. Great second half by the Lakers, possibly the best win of the year

  147. Get ready for the comments like “why didn’t we blow them out”?

  148. Zephid, what a great hockey game. Crosby killed it. Good fight for the USA though.

    I think I’m going to stop following game threads from now on. There’s just so little patience during the game now, it actually brings down my enjoyment of the game.

    Lakers win. Is everyone happy that we have a “statement” game victory now?

  149. Thank GOd for this win.

  150. artest showing why we got him, odom playin like an all star, if kobe can get his stroke back we might be a great team again, worse player tonight was shannon brown by a mile

  151. Mark: +1

    I’m very impressed with this win, considering Kobe had an off night offensively. The Lakers are showing that they can win game with defence time and time again this year.

  152. What?? How didnt we blow them out??? You got to be kidding!

    I still think Denver is the better team. They are a beast on their homecourt.

  153. Wow a WCF between these 2 teams will be fun. And terrifyingly exhilarating.

  154. I felt that the nuggets bailed the lakers out tonight. There was a little better Defense, but lakers still didn’t execute on the offense like they used to. Also denver made some decisions late that were questionable.

  155. Joe,

    They, Denver, are a beast on their home court 25 – 5. The Lakers however are only…. 28-5 on their home court.

    Good thing there are road records also… Denver is 14-15 on the road.

    Lakers are…. 17-10.

    But yah, Denver, much better team. I see your point.

  156. Along with the Fisher basher list…we need to have the “Lakers won’t win this year” list, too.

    What is it with you people? Basketball is a game of runs. Usually, leads change throughout the game. Very rarely, a team will win from the beginning of the tipoff to the end. Have some perspective and enjoy the ride!

    I didn’t want to post anything until the outcome of the game just because I didn’t want my post to be drowned out by these emotional 5 year old cry babies. PLEEAAASE!

    That said…it’s a great win!

  157. Darius,
    Sorry… I switched to watch the 3rd period of the hockey game. I thought the post entry passes were there. We just choose to make things harder on ourselves by not going into the post. When we did (at the start of the third) getting the ball to Bynum in 2 min it was a one point game. But I think ultimately the team will feed the post in the playoffs when it really needs to win. I think the only thing the Lakers need to worry about is Kobe getting healthy.

  158. @ Beefy
    Mbenga did see some court time.

    I didn’t watch the game, but looking at the box score, I am wondering if the Laker defense was that good or was Denver consistently missing open shots?

    6 steals for Artest? WOO! Please tell me he dunked this game

  159. such a shame you didnt watch aaron, i was playing just for you

  160. I was impressed with Derek’s play tonight. I think he did exactly what is asked of him: adding control to the offense and hitting threes within the system. He played pretty good defense on Chauncey as well. That said, he only played 28 minutes and that blown layup was a bad miss.

    Since Fisher is so often bashed when he plays poorly, we should commend him for playing well and within the system tonight. It was a good example of how Fish should play these days.

  161. The Lakers won this game for two reasons…

    1. Kobe demanded double teams almost the entire 2nd half

    2. Artest is a pit bull

    And I did watch the game Derek… just on tivo. And you didn’t play a good game, you played a solid game. Now.. for you that was definitely a good game. But I am going to compare you to NBA PG’s if that is OK.

  162. Good list Aaron, but I’d add a 3rd:

    3. Lamar Odom was dominating the boards and making some unbelievable shots.

  163. 163. Artest had a dunk and a lay up. Fisher was 1-2 on his lay ups.

    But the lakers played extremely well in the second half and its good to see them respond to adversity. Game ball should go to artest and odom. Artest provided both offensive and superb defense and Odom step up offensively. Lamar’s first couple of shots were long jumpers and I’m glad to see Lamar realize his long shot wasn’t going in so he attacked the rim and scored in the paint then mixed in a couple of jumpers here and there. Fisher played really well offensively. He did what the lakers needed him to do. He did have a couple of mental mistakes defensively but overall solid performance. Bynum had a decent game in limited minutes didn’t back down.

    I’m disappointed by Pau’s performance. Once again he let a physical team take him out of his game. He had some good plays here and there. But he only made half of his freethrows. Didn’t have a bad really shooting performance but 6-14 isn’t to great for pau. Pau has consistently underperformed against the top physical teams. And he’s going to have to do much better in the playoffs. I may be nitpicking, but it is a cause for concern.

    Lastly, Kobe couldn’t buy a bucket but he made the plays when needed.

  164. great win for the lakers….you don’t want to be
    a combined 1-6 against the celts, cavs, and thuggets if they had lost…

    kobe obviously was ailing, he had no hops. Artest
    played brilliant playoff type basketball–even hitting 4 3s…his 3 3s in the first half kept them in the game.

    and yes, shannon brown was atrocious!

  165. I thought Lawson getting hurt was a big factor. someone else mentioned Fisher’s 3-point, touch foul on Billups – what a silly thing, in so many ways, in a game as physical as that.

    LO was +15; Shannon was -10. ecch.

  166. joel B.

    Kobe gets superstar treatment here. But fans make excuses for him. Just like you did on your post. Or at least that’s how it seems. Pau made plays when we needed as well after he came back into the game into the stretch. Kobe, forced a lot during the key parts of the stretch, including 2 straight possessions where he didn’t pass the ball at all but took a long shot.

    But while you praise Kobe making the plays we needed, lets do that for pau too. He got beat up, and he still fought. Got a bucket, a block and a tip at the end there. oh, and 14 rebounds to lead the Lakers.

    I love his 12 assists, and I thought he could have focussed on that part of the game more.

    But i’ve already established on this site that I’m much more of a triangle offense guy than a superstar guy.

  167. Another observation Farmar finally played some minutes with the starters sans bynum. But he ran the offense. He played within the offense. The lakers didn’t run the p&r, they ran the triangle. The biggest knock on Farmar is his “inability to run the offense”. I keep saying when your playing with Shannon, Sasha, and Lamar, the triangle becomes an afterthought. Unlike when Fisher picked up 2 early fouls and Phil opted for Brown because Brown is bigger, but did a horrible job. The offense, there wasn’t any offense and Brown did a horrible job defending the three. Brown is a shooting guard and nothing more. He can’t play the point, at all. So keep him in a position to shoot. Phil don’t play him at the point anymore please.

  168. We basketball fans need to demand a better product. I’d love to talk about the players on the court and break it all down with ya’ll, but why? We didn’t see a game with refs calling things consistently and without bias.

    Did the Nuggets stop being “aggressive” (which is code for the refs screwing a team) in the 2nd half? And that call to foul out Carmelo? I don’t care if it did help the Lakers, that was awful. Some Lakers were getting blatantly fouled without getting a call in the 1st half. It was hard to watch.

    Look, I can tolerate refs missing calls, and even making bad ones. That’s gonna happen and that type of officiating WILL EVEN OUT over the course of a game (ideally). But to completely change how a game is called from one half to another and completely manipulate a game like that on national TV… I mean… sheesh.

    Somebody should break down this game on Youtube. As fans we need to demand a better product.

  169. We finally played the type of team defense in the second half that we’re going 2 have 2 display 4 entire games once the playoffs begin. Much props 2 Ron Ron. Best I’ve seen from him on the defensive end all year. We need LO 2 perform like this on a nightly basis.

    On a not so positive note, Pau once again reverted back 2 his soft ways. Had several opportunities 2 dunk the ball, but instead of attacking the basket, went up weak & passive. Was taught 2 keep my opinions/thoughts 2 myself if I didn’t have anything good 2 say about someone. So Shannon, u get a pass this time around.

    Overall, good comeback win & I believe because of it, we shouldn’t have any problems closing out the reg season with the best record in the conference. Now it’s time 2 focus on the month of March, in which we play 11 of 15 on the road and to getting everyone (Luke & Sasha) healthy.

  170. Jerry wrote on February 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    “I hate to say this but I think many of us already realize that the Lakers are not going to win the ring this year. They just don’t have the right mindset to repeat…

    Lakers actually lucked out last year, and this year Denver isn’t going to let it happen again.”

    We played like champions. Denver folded when it mattered. Instead of complaining about calls or letting the turnovers affect us, we kept playing and kept being aggressive. We stepped it up on D. Can’t say the same for them. If we end up losing, it won’t be because we don’t have the right mindset. And if we win it won’t be because we are lucky.

  171. Ray, what I mean is Denver would not have folded if they were on their homecourt. For the majority of the time that these two teams have played this year, Denver has dominated this team badly up until the second half of today. Right now from my point of view Denver is the better team, at least when these two teams play against each other. Denver knows how to beat beat us, but we havent really figured out how to beat Denver.

  172. That was an important win for the Lakers. Denver didn’t give that game away, the Lakers took it.

    Kobe was 3-17 and the Lakers won, that is great news. (kobe needed to let someone else shoot at the end)

    I’d like to point out that Artest was 4/7, Fish was 2/2 and Farmar 1/1 on threes. Lakers shot 50% from three. Lakers don’t live by the three at all, but it has to be there for the Lakers to beat elite teams.

  173. Ray

    I’m not making any excuses for kobe. What excuse am I making for Kobe. I said he made numerous plays for the Lakers, hit some timely baskets but overall was horrible from a shooting stand point. The shots he took are shots he normally takes and makes. Phil said it, Kobe said it. I also not earlier on this board that he was playing lazy defense in the first half. And as far as those shots at the end of the game. I don’t mind those shots, because he always takes those shots. More times than not Kobe will take those shots. More times than not kobe makes those shots.

    But Pau made a few plays at the end as well. But overall Pau was taken out of his game. Denver didn’t even double Pau, they doubled Drew. Pau had numerous opportunities to just use his length and simple shoot right over the defenders. Instead he was getting pushed out of position and was falling away on a lot of shots. He’s a 80% ft shooter. But when teams are physical and send him to line, he rarely converts at a 80% clip. But as far as his 14 rebounds. I would say Pau didn’t have a great rebounding game because he gave up so many offensive rebounds where with a little bit of effort, he would secured them. I mentioned that earlier that Pau had 9 boards at the half but should’ve had 15. I said it may be nitpicking because looking at the box score he didn’t have he didn’t have a bad game. But he was obviously bothered by the physicality of Denver and the Lakers will need him to overcome that in the playoffs.

  174. Joe,

    They’ve played 3 times this year. Is that all your basing it on? Plus, if they figured out how to beat us, they would have beaten us. Today.

    They didn’t. They are a beast on their home floor. So are we. We are also a lot better than they are on the road.

    We like to look at the negatives a little too much on this site. It’s like we want them to play perfect basketball. When has a team EVER played perfect basketball an entire season? All that matters are win loss. We are now 5.5 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets for the best record out west. And we beat them today. Closer to the playoffs. With our best guy being down.

    So here are the positives, for all the soft labels, Pau gets PUNISHED inside. It’s been happening the last few games. Would it be better to take it up and dunk everything? Sure. But there’s only been one center to be able to take punishment and do that. his name was shaq. A few of you guys on this site said that shaq was overrated, but this soft label you put on pau is because u want him to pull a shaq and dunk it. Also, Pau had a team leading 14 rebounds. Kobe had a terrible shooting night, and though i wish he would holster it a little bit more and pass, he did have a game leading 12 assists. Fish and Farmar played a controlled game without any major mistakes. Ron artest was a defensive strong man on melo, and though melo shouldn’t have fouled out on that last call, artest made him work for everything. And LO was the aggressive player we really wanted.

    Lots of positives in this game. And, Denver hasn’t “figured out” how to beat us as widely assumed. So how bout the exultation: “Finally! The statement win that some people on this site have been hoping for.”

  175. Great win due to Artest and LO. Bynam has zero basketball IQ. 2 offensive and 2 defense 3 second calls. Being at the game you can see how lazy he is on rebounds as Denver was grabbing offensive bounds while he stood. Bench the guy and start LO.

    What he wrong with Kobe’s shot? 3 for 17 ouch.

    big win though,

  176. As usual, stats are quoted at the end to prove points that can’t be proved any other way. Watching the game, with all the ebb and flow, tells so much more than examining the box scores afterwords.

    The Lakers have been an excellent defensive team all year – sure we can point out problems, but overall this is true. When they reverted to their defensive ways they were able to take Denver out of its game.

    The other notable thing is our stupid passes to make spectacular plays. We stopped doing that in the 2nd half and – wa-la – our turnovers plummeted.

    Looks like this is the way we are going to win this year folks. I think we might as well get used to it and try to enjoy the ride. Sort of like Boston in ’08.

  177. Good things happen when Fisher takes 5 shots.

  178. Q, didn’t he also hit a couple treys? and that steal against Billups at the end was a game changer.
    I just don’t get you Fish bashers.

  179. 176 Joe, don’t forget the first game in Denver was 2nd night of back to back, got in at 5AM on game day.
    (remember Pop sat his starters in a similar situation)
    also we didn’t have Pau that first game.
    on the second game when they won, that was Kobe’s last game on the gimpy ankle/tendon, pinkie and index finger injuries, so we were playing 4 on 5 most of that night, I felt it was brave but not helping the team when he was out there that night.
    so today was the first time both teams were healthy, full strength and no back toback business.
    i think we’ll get them in the post season

  180. Chris. Lakers were up by 8 when Phil pulled jordan for Fish. Within 28 seconds Phillips shot a 3 and a 2 and it was back to 3. That’s why we question Fisher.

    Defense

  181. shaq getting surgery. out for the rest of the regular season. unknown for playoffs.

  182. 186.

    Wow that’s big news. He’s out for the season and maybe the playoffs. Either way, he may be a lost cause for the playoffs because Shaq is a notoriously slow healer and he’ll be so out of shape come playoff time, and thats if he heals in time for the first round. That’s good news for Bynum because Big Z doesn’t bother Bynum the way he bothers Pau. Most importantly that good news for D. Howard. If shaq isn’t in shape for the playoffs, most likely it’ll be Orlando vs. L.A. II.

  183. Daniel,
    I would argue that the main reason Lamar played so well was playing off the Kobe double teams. That isn’t taking anything away from LO… he knows how and when to dive to the basket when Kobe is getting doubled.

  184. ray, your comments about game threads deflating your enjoyment has mirrored my thoughts exactly. It’s hard to enjoy wins when the negativity is so high all the time. That’s life in Lakerland I guess, but it’s gotten old. I get frustrated with the less than stellar games too, but when missed rotations/defensive breakdowns/poor shooting nights, etc translates into “this team will never win a championship,” we need a new translator.

  185. Ken…his name is Billups, not Phillips. Just had to point it out. Chauncey plays well enough to warrant proper recognition. :)

  186. Thank you, my bad. Now on I will go with CB.

  187. Slow night in Dallas. 67% first have and 69 points!

  188. Once again Bynum is a non-factor against a Class A center. What’s the excuse now?

  189. What’s up Laker Nation? I’m so pleased with how our team fought in the second half. It seemed like we were just going though the motions in the first half. With all the criticism we have been throwing at Fisher, he has to get credit for the defense he put on Billups in the second half. Not to mention, the 2 big three pointers he hit. It just seems like Farmar and Brown are intimidated by Chauncey. He gets whatever and wherever he wants against them.

    My biggest concern the rest of the season and throughout the playoffs is going to be Kobe’s jump shot. That’s 3 straight games he has shot the ball poorly. We absolutely cannot win a championship with Kobe putting up constant bricks from the perimeter. Does anybody else have this same concern?