Preview and Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Darius Soriano —  November 11, 2010

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Records: Lakers 8-0, Nuggets 4-4
Offensive ratings: Lakers 116.4 (1st in NBA), Nuggets 108.9 (7th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.4 (7th in NBA), Nuggets 107.2 (19th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Nuggets: Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Shelden Williams, Nene Hillario
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum (out); Nuggets: Kenyon Martin (out), Chris Andersen (out)

The Lakers Coming in: Even an 8-0 team isn’t without some things kinks to work out.  Tuesday night’s lack luster effort in defeating the Timberwolves prompted some harsh comments from Derek Fisher.  The Lakers’ issues with controlling their defensive glass are real and can’t be dismissed as the result of simply missing Andrew Bynum (though that’s definitely a big part of it).  And while a wandering focus is natural for all teams, the fact that this is a familiar theme for the Lakers brings back concerns that many have had over the past couple of seasons.

However, despite all of those issues I’m not worried and don’t think anyone should be.  Not every game will be one handily and there will be games that are outright ugly that still produce a W.  Tuesday night was one of those nights and now the team must move on.  A bigger challenge awaits tonight and if the team get’s too caught up in what was, they’ll not be prepared for what will be.

Other News: If you haven’t heard already, the Lakers plan to unveil a statue of Jerry West outside of Staples Center during All-Star Weekend (which takes place in Los Angeles this year).  The statue of Mr. Clutch will join those of Magic Johnson and Chick Hearn as Lakers related tributes outside of the team’s home arena.  It’s not yet known if West will be depicted as a player or an executive, but you can go here to drop a vote on which version of the Logo should be erected.

The Nuggets Coming in:  At 4-4, the Nuggets are still searching for some continuity and momentum in the early part of the season.  They’re coming off two straight losses (Bulls, Pacers) and had one of the worst defensive quarters in NBA history against Indiana when they gave up 54 points as the Pacers shot 20-21 from the field.

And the problems they’re having aren’t just limited to finding a rhythm in the season’s early going.  They’re currently struggling with injuries as two thirds of their big man rotation (Kenyon, Birdman) are out while recovering from knee surgeries and that’s really hurt their defense and rebounding.  They’ve been forced to play Shelden Williams and Melvin Ely a combined 40 minutes a night and also had to go small at times with Al Harrington playing the four.  Needless to say, this isn’t a recipe for success.

And of course there is the ongoing issue of what’s going to happen with Carmelo Anthony.  Will he get traded?  Will he sign the extension that’s been on the table for months?  No one knows for sure, but it’s got to be a distraction for a team that’s not been known to be the most focussed group in the league.  And while George Karl is back on the bench after his battle with throat cancer (and it’s great to have coach Karl back), there’s not much he can do besides play the guys that he has and try to keep his group on the same page each night.  So while it’s not a mess in Denver, I continue to get the feeling that we’re not too far away from it.

All that said, this team still does have talent.  Just because ‘Melo has that cloud doubt surrounding his future doesn’t mean his still not producing high quality numbers.  Though is scoring is a bit down from years past, he’s still putting up 24 points a game on 49% shooting (including 47% from three where he’s cut his attempts down from over 5 last year, to only 2.4 this season).  He’s also grabbing his highest number of rebounds a game (7.4) in three years.  And while the numbers for these players are down from last season, the Nuggs still also have Billups, Nene, JR Smith, and Ty Lawson as the core of a team that can easily go on big runs offensively and make any defenses night difficult.

Nugget Blogs:  Go check out the fine work that Jeremy and crew at Roundball Mining Company are doing on a daily basis.

Keys to game:  The Lakers are in for a test tonight.  Throw out the records tonight because the Nuggets are a team that always seems to raise their respective games when they face off against the Lakers.  So if the Lakers are going to win the game they’ll need to do the little things well and pay attention to detail on both sides of the ball in order to diminish Denver’s strengths and enhance their own.

Offensively, that means going inside early and often to batter the Nuggets’ interior.  With Denver having a depleted front line, Gasol and Odom should be featured in the paint and the Lakers guards/wings should be penetrating the ball in order to get high percentage shots at the basket.  Gasol will likely be guarded by Nene so I’d like to see Pau use his mid-range jump shot to set up his drives to the basket early in order to get the big Brazilian off balance.  Once Pau gets his offense going he’ll require extra attention and that’s when the other Lakers (especially Odom) can get going by slashing off the ball and getting into the gaps of Denver’s interior defense.

The other key offensive match up of course involves Kobe.  I was not too pleased with Kobe’s tactics on Tuesday as he often worked outside the framework of the Triangle in order to get his baskets.  And while he was successful doing so, tonight’s match up against Afflalo won’t be nearly as easy and thus that same approach is not advised.  Instead, I’d love to see Kobe operate at the mid and low post and use his strong base to back down Afflalo to try and create good looks in the paint or draw fouls.  I’d also like to see Kobe work more off the ball and make his catches while on the move in order to neutralize the length that Afflalo brings to table.  If Kobe can successfully use the curls, back cuts, and hand off sequences of the Triangle he should be able to score well and do so efficiently.

Defensively, the Lakers primary focus should be slowing Carmelo Anthony.  Ron Artest has had some good success against ‘Melo and I look for him to employ the same tactics that have worked for him in the past.  That means bodying ‘Melo up off the ball and making him work for every catch.  When Anthony does have the ball he should force him to his strong hand and make him drive all the way to the rim where there’s help to contest those interior shots.  Carmelo has a complete offensive game and will try to shake off Ron with jab steps to free up his mid range jumper, but Ron needs to stick close to him and force him to put the ball on the ground.  If ‘Melo does go left, look for him to step back and shoot his jumper off one or two dribbles or for him to jump step into the lane where he can elevate and shoot over the top of his man.  Regardless of whether it’s Artest or Barnes in the game, the Lakers need to follow this game plan and make Anthony work for every bucket.

The other player to really look out for is Billups.  While he’s having a down year so far (only 14.5 points and 4.4 assists a game) he’s still quite dangerous.  He’s been a top performer against the Lakers since the 2004 Finals and I get the sense that every game against the Lakers is circled on his calendar.  Billups is great playing in the P&R and loves for guys to go under the screen so he can step back and shoot his jumper.  When defenders chase him over the top of the screen he still likes to explode off the pick in an attempt to get in the lane and draw fouls so he can go to the FT line and show off his 90% stroke on freebies.

The other match up I’ll be watching in this game is the battle of the benches.  We’ve all been impressed with the Lakers trio of Barnes, Blake, and Brown and how they’ve been able to turn games in the Lakers’ favor in the first 8 games.  Well, the Nuggets boast their own trio of bench players with Ty Lawson, JR Smith, and Al Harrington.  These 6 players match up by playing the same exact positions and whichever unit has the most success will be a major factor in who wins this game.  If Smith comes out hot or Lawson uses his speed to jam the ball down the Lakers’ throats in transition, it could be a long night.  The Lakers need to try and limit these players’ effectiveness while trying to make a difference in their own right by running the Triangle and getting each other good shots as they’ve done all season.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start out west on TNT.  Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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108 responses to Preview and Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. I think that the Killer B’s (Barnes, Blake, and Brown), are going to really step it up against Denver tonight, I expect big things from them. And Tuesday’s ugly play will not be present tonight, the Lakers know that Denver will bring their A game and know that this will be a real test for the young season

  2. I think you have to delete the first post! 🙂 No Warren? 🙂

    Anyways, here’s to a Happy Birthday for me and for a 55-point 3rd quarter for LA! 🙂


  3. There are probably 25-30 key road games this season that will determine whether or not we earn homecourt advantage through out the playoffs and into the finals. This is one of them and thus a big game. We need a win!

    Plus we have Boston v. Miami as a warm up. A great night of basketball!

    I’d like to see Kobe the general tonight, getting the offense and defense going tonight, getting Pau and Lamar involved and then figuring out what he has to do for us to win. When that Kobe as opposed to Kobe the gunner shows up we are head and shoulders above the rest of the league and he is an MVP candidate.

  4. It seemed like the Lakers lost every “key” or “statement” or “whatever cliche you want to use” regular season game last season. And we know how the season turned out. I used to think these kinds of games used to mean something more than just one loss or one win, but after last year it’s just impossible for me to think like this anymore.

  5. Denver is in shambles. Actually, they’re better than I thought they’d be. I thought the Carmelena Virus would due this team in, but surprisingly, they’re a .500 team. They still have no interior defense… or perimeter defense for that matter. Do they play defense??? Whatever. Doesn’t matter. They have no bench, and as someone alluded to before, Lakers bench should dominate.

    109-92 Lakers.

  6. #4 Mike,

    I agree to a certain extent. At the same time last year the Lakers got homecourt in the finals due to the top 2 seeds being upset. I would like to see the team control its own destiny this year. I don’t think anyone is going to argue that homecourt was not an important factor last year.

  7. @2) Happy Birthday, Mark! Also, a salute to all of the Veterans!

    Why not go for history? This Lakers team is the best model in recent years to break records, so why not go for the 72 win season?

    How awesome would that be to send Phil Jackson out with a championship and another team that loses less than 10 games in a season?

  8. Jeremy, sure, in a perfect world they would win 65+ games and have the best overall record. I’m just saying i’m not as conserned as i used to be if they don’t.

  9. Mike: Agreed.

    Another thing that amused me about last season was the fact that every “expert” claimed that it was totally impossible to just “turn it on” in the play-offs. Well, the Lakers finished the regular season playing like crap, and we all know how that turned out.

    I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that as long as the Lakers make it to the play-offs – regardless if it’s as the eighth seed – I still hold them as the favorites to win it all, and as a serious contender at the very least. The same can be said for Boston to some extent. (Although not the favorites to win it all part.)

    And it’s not just because those are veteran teams like the experts now claim (to excuse their earlier mistakes about the Lakers not being able to win), it’s because they are simply loaded with talent. I don’t care if Kobe and Pau were 25 years old – this team would still be outworldly.

  10. Good to see that someone else thinks Billups circles Laker games on his schedule. He’s always been one of those guys that I’ve thought of as a Laker killer. He just seems to play above his normal level against LA.

  11. DEN is one of the few teams in the league that can beat us even if the Lakers play well, eapecially at home when their 3s are falling. It’s imperative that the team understand that they’ll have to grind out a win tonoght with defense and rebounding, not with fancy offense.

    If we can stay close until the 4th quarter, out veteran leadership can excecute well enough to close this out. The player I worry most are NeNe and Ty Lawson. All the other matchups, we have an answer for, but those two can wreak havoc by putting our guys in foul trouble early and often.

    I still think we should and can win tonight by 7.

  12. Win or lose, I hope they bounce back from the effort in Minnesota.

    Of course, my preference is for the W.

  13. #5. I’m not saying the Denver bench is a bunch of all-stars in waiting, but they’ve got real talent in that reserve group. Lawson is the exact type of guard that gives the Lakers problems and JR Smith is *capable* of turning any game in Denver’s favor (he’s also capable of the exact opposite). And Harrington is serviceable at worst and at his best also capable of putting up big scoring numbers.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m optimistic about this game (as the Lakers will likely be very interested in winning – a factor that may matter most) but Denver at home is never an easy contest. Even when depleted they’ve got enough talent to compete.

  14. I can’t believe I’m going to say this…but the Kevin Garnett ‘I’m going to kill you stare’ is something I completely support watching the game. Go Celtics?

  15. Are Boston up for this game or what? It’s perfect for them: noone believes in us, everyone loves the other team. Garnett, Allen and Rondo just doing serious work.

    And after saying that, I feel like I need to go and have a shower!

  16. This C’s/Heat game is the perfect example of how an established system and teammates that know how to play off each other can smother a team that has breathtaking individual talent but not yet a system or cohesion to lean on.

  17. I guess it’s becoming less and less likely that the Heat are going to win 72 games.

    But, a lot of the C’s are tagged with fouls… I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes uncomfortably close towards the end.

    Too bad that one of these teams must win, but good to know that at least one of them is going to lose.

  18. harold – Yeah, when these 2 teams play, I almost wish it was soccer, where we could have a draw so that nobody really got much from it!

  19. Boston is making the Heat look like the ‘wolves (but not last night’s ‘wolves) so far. Wade looks just awful; Ray Allen looks great!

  20. AusPhil, heh, that’d be neat, get them 1 point each for a draw as opposed to one team getting 3 points 😉

    And really, I’d love to watch LeBron miss the penalty, then fall down grabbing his shin, while Pierce suddenly jumps up from his wheelchair to celebrate and Garnett stares the goal post down since it won’t fight him back.

    Doc would say later that if their starting five was healthy, they wouldn’t have gotten the draw while Riley will be pondering if now is the time to yank Erik.

  21. I don’t want to overlook JR Smith either. He always seems to make 5-6 threes when playing us. Not quite Aaron Brooks status, but still always seems to get up playing the Lakers. Hopefully because it is in Denver he will be less motivated to perform. Let’s get number 9 done tonight.

  22. Miami looks terrible now but should be a much different team when miller gets back. Boston isn’t even guarding arroyo. with miller, lebrick and wade I think they will be a different team.

  23. At some point (maybe around All-Star break), someone should put together a post about Laker-killers. Just guys who play above themselves against LA. Surely we could put together a 12 man roster…

  24. Miami’s interior defense is tuurable. they are double teaming GLEN DAVIS in the post! bynum, odom and gasol will have a field day if they don’t figure something out.

  25. People are way over estimating MIke Miller. We are not talking about Reggie Miller here. Additionally, Miami’s problems are not a lack of outside shooting. They do not get easy/inside baskets, they can’t stop PG’s from penetrating and they have very little inside offense or defense. Exactly what part of that does Miller address? Plus he is not exactly a defensive stopper.

  26. any good streaming sites of the game?

  27. That turk boston has is terrible. My wife just said”I feel bad because I know he needs the practice but this is not the time” (we both despise Lebron and thus the heat)

  28. Always check for streams

  29. @25 While it’s unlikely Miller will help Miami’s defensive issues, I do believe he will make a difference for the heat offensively. Miller is not going to score inside but his shooting will space the floor to allow Lebron and Wade get to the bucket to create easy buckets for themselves and the heat big men.

    Just look at the difference between the Lakers offense last season vs the 8 games of this season. Last year all of the Lakers shooters struggled from 3 pt range and the Lakers’ offense regressed from the years before. This year, they are leading the league in 3 pt shooting and as a result are leading the league in offensive efficiency by a long shot. I know around here the speculation about the increase in offensive efficiency has been the increased mins for Odom with Bynum out but I think if the Lakers can keep shooting the 3 ball well they will continue to be at the top in offensive efficiency.

  30. 8 minutes left in the Boston-Miami game… We probably won’t get started until about 8:00 PM.

  31. Miami is doing rather well, they’re getting everyone into foul trouble, and LeBron is still LeBron. If Wade could’ve played just average…

    … never mind, LeBron can’t shoot FTs.

  32. I deliberately set the DVR to run long, but even that might not’ve been enough given how slowly this game is wrapping up.

  33. great prelim tonight and I am pumped for the main event. I’ve got an ice cold dr.pepper, nancho cheese doritoes and salsa. I’m ready to go. Let’s go Lakers!

  34. Son of a… TBS is not cutting over to the Lakers game. Any other feeds?

  35. Frustrating they don’t put our game on another channel…

  36. Bosh and Haslem should change salaries or something…

    .. hoping House doesn’t pick this game to make the 3.

    … gamecast shows that miami has -1 timeouts left. How?

  37. Please dear basketball gods no ot..ok?

  38. Well, on the plus side this fans the flames of my hatred of the Celtics and the Heat even more…

  39. @333, is that possible? 😉

    Kobe 0-5. Does that mean Kobe guns to make up for it in the 2nd half, or does that mean that Kobe guns to make up for it in the 2nd half?

    I don’t see him conceding it a bad shooting night…

  40. any links?

  41. imposibol, if you have Veetle, this one’s great:


  43. just noticed kobe is 1-7 from the field….were 7 shots at least good looks or within the offense?

  44. ShanWOW. Wow

    And how many times are we going to see Avatar advertised tonight??

  45. eroxas, couldn’t tell because thanks to TNT, we missed the first 5 or 6.

  46. I’m back. I’m glad Miami lost (no, Boston didn’t win, I hate to say that, so…)…. and hopefully my birthday will be completed with a 55-point 3rd quarter for the Lakers! :))

    Shannon’s dunk was insane! Lovin’ the degree of difficulty!

  47. thanks Simonoid. but my effing internet is choppy. 🙁

  48. Well, this got a little bit ugly in not a lot of time. Things were cruising along quite nicely for a while there too!

    Offensive rebounds again.

  49. Lawson killing us with dribble penetration…

  50. I wish there was some record of most and-one fouls on jump shots. There’s no way Kobe wouldn’t be the career leader in that. By a loooong way.

  51. Watching Nene muscle his way around in the paint makes me miss Bynum even more…

  52. Kobe roaming way too much defensively. He needs to stay on Afflalo, who can shoot.

  53. OK – excluding the dunk & the last second three, Kobe’s 3 for 13. For those of us watching box scores, is he in the offense, free-lancing or what?

    On another note, I like that Fish hit the 3 near the end of the half there, but I’m not sure about him playing twice the minutes of Blake. Not ideal in my book.

    That said, nice to be up 5 after a pretty mediocre half (and another dreadful effort thus far on the defensive glass).

  54. Can’t wait for the 3rd quarter. Yum!

    Denver grabbing 34% off their missed shots. Kobe’s 4-of-15 have been a mix of forced and within-the-offense shots, but mostly forced.

  55. How about the Celtics – they are probably playing the best ball in the East, beating Miami Heat 2X and OKC? Looks like they are still the team to beat….

  56. Come on, Lakers. Let’s try not to allow another 59 points in the second half.

  57. Second half, should be step-on-the-neck time.

  58. Kobe 26,000 points

  59. How many And1’s have we given up this game? 7, 8?

  60. When is Bynum coming back?

  61. paulpierce34 Paul Pierce It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach now on to Memphis

  62. Bynum back in late Nov early Dec (planned)

  63. Kobe with 24 shots through three quarters. Take a deep breath and slow down a little Mr. Bryant.

  64. If JR Smith faced the Lakers in every game he played he would be a Hall of Famer… What is it with that guy, and LA?

  65. Well we managed to the get the Denver crowd back into the game with Carmelo on the bench. it’s not a track meet guys

  66. When is the last time we attempted a shot?

  67. Holy *&*^ Shannon

  68. Why is Kobe forcing it so much?

  69. Why is Pau not even looking to attack or shoot? He has looked mighty soft tonight, where would this game be without Shannon?

  70. Kobe’s shot selection has been a nightmare tonight.

  71. 73. Mohan it’s been a nightmare but who else has stepped up besides Shannon? Someone has to create for this offense, Pau hasn’t asserted himself at all in this half and if it wasn’t for Kobe and Shannon the Lakers would be down 20.

  72. So much for my birthday celebration. 🙁

  73. Hey Mark, it’s 1:11 a.m. on the east coast, so let’s assume the Lakers are losing on the following day.

  74. Very disappointed with the Kobe we’ve been seeing the past two games. RUN THE OFFENSE.

  75. Happy birthday anyway, Mark.

  76. Seems like Phil has decided that a loss is not a bad thing tonight. If Phil wasn’t alright with the loss he would put Odom in during the last 5 minutes.

    Lakers looked horrible in the third, and still look bad in the fourth.

    Ah well, loss happens.

  77. Pau looks so out of it tonight. Being guarded by Al Harrington all night and couldn’t do much. Slow on rotations. I dont blame Kobe for having to take over and force things.

  78. Everyone can blame Kobe shooting but the biggest reason this game went the way it did is due to a lack of urgency in the second half as well as poor execution, sloppy offense and porous defense. The only bright spot has been Shannon.

  79. Don, he was guarded primarily by Nene for the stretches when he really struggled. It’s nights like these that give the critics reasons to call him soft. He was muscled around much of the game.

  80. Not a good loss at all. Now you give this Denver team, without two of their best denfensive players even more confidence against us. A combination of bad defense and unbelievably hot shooting by Denver this 4th quarter

  81. Also, too many three pointers attempted for us. We’re 9 for 29. It’s about time our long run of amazing shooting comes to end.

  82. Everyone’s trying to be a hero…

  83. Where is Pau Gasol? He didnt even jump there?

  84. Gasol is not well equipped for a player like Nene. In the regular season I am pretty ok with him giving the bruisers a bit of an “Ole!”. I know he can get the job done in the playoffs when it matters.

    But, yeah, a night like this throws into sharp focus how much we do miss Bynum.

    I wonder why Odom didn’t come back in? Was he injured?

  85. Simon gets it exactly right. We were acting like drunk gamblers coming off a hot streak and now just trying to double up. Way too many 3 pointers. Seemed like every time we needed a basket we looked for a 3

  86. Cant blame the offense really, we scored 110 points….Lets talk about why we could not stop this team from scoring, which we also could not do last year.

  87. Why was Sasha clinging to Lamar’s arm as they were walking off the floor? Please tell me Lamar didn’t get injured tonight, did he? Sasha’s just being affectionate?

  88. I thought Odom didn’t come back in because Shannon was playing out of his mind and Artest was kept in to guard Melo

  89. It took a monster game from Denver and a bad night offensively from Pau-Odom-Kobe to beat us, though. Just sayin’.

    Not alarming, but definitely a lot of things will be talked over.

  90. 1) This is why Fish was upset after the T-wolves game – the team seemed disinterested for the most part.

    2) This is what I was most concerned with but didn’t want to jinx it – if LO or Pau gets injured while Andrew is still out, our team gets screwed. Hopefully LO isn’t seriously hurt.

  91. In the grand scheme of things, if someone had told me at the beginning of the season that the Lakers would start 8-1, I’d take that in a heartbeat – and so would just about everyone on the team.

    Tonight was a lesson game, and as long as we have Phil Jackson at the helm, it’s only natural to expect a few of these a season. To Denver’s credit, they did a great job disrupting our offense (read: limiting Gasol’s effectiveness) and encouraging Kobe to take those challenged shots.

  92. Bad Lakers D today. Didn’t actually think they played that well throughout the game, and with 5 minutes to go this game kind of felt like a loss. Nights like that happen.

    Bum deal.

    I too was wondering why Odom didn’t come in to present a mismatch since Denver was going so small.

  93. The last two games Kobe has been shooting a lot, trying to get his own, not playing within the offense. It’s been about two games now that Pau’s name has been thrown around in (way early) MVP conversation. Anybody think this is just a coincidence? Or is this Kobe’s way of letting people know he’s not ready to concede his alpha status?

  94. 89 – That makes sense, I was watching bits and pieces of the game so I didn’t really have a feel for what was going on. I flashed back to Lamar’s thumb incident a couple games ago and panicked.

    Pau looked disengaged from the parts that I saw. Has he been playing long minutes? He just seemed sluggish and a step slow tonight. That last layup attempt that got blocked had weak sauce written all over it, he was just moving slow and didn’t bring any conviction behind the move. Just one of those games for the big guy, tired legs or something – I probably wouldn’t read much into it.

  95. Denver knows how to beat us better than any team in the West in my opinion. They do not let our defense set. There execute on offense so quickly and their speed really hurts us. I was so glad when Utah beat this team last year in the first round and we did not have to face them.

  96. The Lakers didn’t play smart ball down the stretch and payed for it. Players are going to have off nights and sometimes shots that normally fall, don’t. But too often tonight the quick shot went up (from Kobe and others) and there wasn’t enough ball movement to get the shots that could have stopped Denver runs. Like I said on twitter, sometimes even the smart teams do the wrong things.

  97. 97, agreed, Pau’s post moves didn’t seem crisp and he didn’t seem really authoritative when he went to the basket. And Kobe certainly did his best to take the Lakers completely out of their offense, no matter how ineffective it was.

    I think Odom had to have been hurt, there’s no other way that Phil wouldn’t go back to him. We got killed in the early 4th because Odom was on the bench, so we were left with Gasol with Artest, Barnes, Brown, and Blake along the perimeter.

    Darius said it on Twitter, but fronting Gasol in the post calls for the high post flash with a dump off to Gasol, a move which Odom is really well known for. Instead of doing this, our guys gave up 3-4 turnovers in a row, which led to something like 12 Nugget points.

  98. i only watched the fourth quarter… and i’m annoyed. There is plenty of blame to go around: too many 3s, lack of offense execution, bad shot selection from kobe, lack of urgency and determination by Pau. The only guy who i can’t be mad at in that 4th quarter was Shannon. His hustle and shots are just… really good right now.

    8-1 is a good start. If it becomes more common for us to lose leads like this, then i’m going to be upset, but for now, denver got hot in the fourth and we couldnt stop them (literally, a rookie went coast to coast on us that turned the game).

    And I’ve been waiting for my first “OPTIMIST” post of the year! And I have a good one: IT COULD BE WORSE, WE COULD BE 5-4!

  99. Snoopy, I thought he got pushed around by Nene quite a bit tonight. But he wasn’t aggressive in general, and that really affected our offense, because the guards find it difficult to run much of anything through him. Especially Kobe, who decided lone wolfing it would be better (with a useless Pau). That, obviously, doesn’t really spell great efficiency.

  100. Why we lost this game is simple: something is missing in post #1. And had we eked out a win tonite, Hollinger would have looked really stupid for overvaluing point differential in his formula for Power Ranking.

  101. I actually thought the Lakers would take over in the second half and they started off on a nice run. They let themselves get sucked into playing Denver’s game however, which is usually won or lost according to emotion rather than overall execution. Denver is a streak-team and they managed to get fired up in the 4th.

  102. After the Timberwolves game – which we won – I just can’t understand why people are surprised we lost tonight. Also not surprised the Timberwolves won their next game.

    This team does not learn much from wins – they have to lose to have things drummed into their heads; remember they are the defending champions.

    Also, while Kobe didn’t stay within the offense tonight, the team wasn’t playing the offense very well and it is his nature to take over the game when this happens. Stop complaining about it and accept that this is part of his personality – and also what helps make him such a great closer. We get Kobe – the entire player – not just the one we happen to want that night – or we don’t get to keep him at all.

  103. ok, so let’s first acknowledge that this was a road loss to Denver on a Thursday in November, and that winning 8 out of 9 games is .888 ball and will do just nicely. Now, on the parts of this game that were troubling:

    1. phil’s acquiescing to Denver’s small ball lineup by not playing Lamar. Huge mistake. Our size has won us two championships, and especially in a game where Pau is getting bullied constantly (can I say that without triggering an avalanche of Pau defenders? He’s awesome, but tonight, he played soft and down to the size of his opponents.) he needed to be in there, if for no other reason that it would have slowed the game down.

    2. The Lakers clearly established that their mindset was to outscore the Nuggets, but in Denver, this is not going to work. Defensively, they were a rumor at best, as Denver realized in the 4th that it was a layup drill defense employed by the Lakers and played accordingly. I just don’t want to get too far into the season before the Lakers commit to defense. Boston’s gonna be Boston, we all know that’s who’s coming out of the East, and the Lakers need to start getting back to championship Defense.

    3. The embracing of the 3, a trap that felled the Lakers many times last year, destroyed them tonight. Blake, Kobe, and Shanwow took HORRENDOUS threes in that fourth quarter. First game the bench melted down, and then the starters came in with no defensive mindset at all, and that’s the game.

    again, just one out of 82. But with a day of rest, I thought they’d come out with a better mindset, and just didn’t . Nuggets were beatable tonight, but not by a team that couldn’t be bothered to guard anybody.

    Big Picture: Malign him all you want, but there is NO championship without “Young Gimpy”. when exactly is he coming back?

  104. I wonder if fatigue had anything to do with Pau’s ineffective offensive game in the 4th quarter. Also, Kobe and Artest needed to help out on rebounding more with LO out. Without LO in the lineup, our help defense was atrocious. It really isn’t a bad loss that concerns me too much. I just think that the Lakers could have won with a tigher defense overall and smart plays down the stretch. Giving up 8 point 4th quarter in in like 2 minutes at the beginning of the quarter by the bench was something we’re used to seeing from the last year’s team. It’s only a game. We need to move on.