(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: You might mistakenly believe that the notable “first” to come out of the Lakers’ game Thursday night was their first loss of the season. To see Kobe Bryant after the game in the Pepsi Center visiting locker room, you would realize that a far bigger deal to him appeared to be getting to envelop his weary bones in his plush, new bathrobe for the first time. Bryant sat in front of his locker in the thick black robe, eschewing its hood but showcasing its KB24 “Carpe Diem” crest both on the back and on the left front lapel. In his ongoing quest for max efficiency, Bryant has lately taken to postgame multi-tasking: Instead of waiting until after he ices down, showers, takes additional medical treatments and gets dressed, Bryant has met with reporters while he sits idly (for a specific time period, clocked dependably by the little timer he holds in his hand) with huge icepacks on both knees and his feet and ankles minimizing swelling in their own ice water.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: The Lakers’ frontline struggled. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom should’ve had a field day considering the Nuggets have had to absorb absences to Chris Anderson and Kenyon Martin because of off-season knee surgeries. But Gasol and Odom combined for seven of 23 from the field. Odom played only 26 minutes and absent altogether in the fourth quarter. And Gasol’s post play and interior defending appeared tentative and exhausting. Allowing 54 points to the paint shouldn’t happen. They’ve been the team’s most consistent players this postseason, but it clearly shows they need everything they can from them until Andrew Bynum returns around Thanksgiving.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: It was fun while it lasted, the Lakers’ undefeated start to the season. But time marches ever forward and drops the occasional loss on even the most charmed franchises. Tonight the Lakers fell in Denver by the final score of 112 to 118. Even though they were favored in this game and, on balance, most of us probably expected them to push their record to 9-0 against a Nuggets team that had been looking a bit shaky, it’s not stunning that the perfect start ended this evening. When the NBA announced its schedule last August, a lot of us circled tonight’s game as a good bet for the Lakers’ first L.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Offensively, I thought this was Ron’s best game in some time. As his fellow starters struggled early in the first quarter, he connected for five quick points to help maintain pace then rounded out the night with 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting. More than just his efficient percentage, I liked how Ron muscled his way to the rim for several buckets. Artest can be a load down low, and it’s always a welcome sight seeing use that power advantage. Throw in five boards, three blocks and two steals, and I thought he did a nice job offsetting some struggles guarding Carmelo Anthony.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Kobe Bryant’s shot abandoned him. Pau Gasol no longer scored with ease.?? Shannon Brown, of all people, tried to keep the Lakers among the undefeated, but it all dissolved in front of an overjoyed Pepsi Center crowd, the Denver Nuggets dropping the Lakers on Thursday, 118-112.??The Lakers surrendered 33 points in the fourth quarter, their defense sputtering badly, matched in ineffectiveness only by Bryant’s outside touch.?? Bryant had 34 points but made only 11 of 32 shots. Gasol wasn’t much better: 17 points on six-for-17 shooting as New Orleans (7-0) became the NBA’s only undefeated team.??” Just another game in November,” Bryant said, not taking the loss all that hard.
Updated, Additional Links:
*From Jim Thompson, founder and executive director of the Positive Coaching Alliance at responsiblesports.com, an interview with Phil Jackson: In this episode, Jim talks with NBA coaching great and Positive Coaching Alliance National Spokesperson Phil Jackson, who shares his insights on how to build a true community within teams, finding voice for star players while encouraging role players to embrace their vital place on any successful team. Phil also shares his philosophy on balancing talent versus effort, the role of rivalries to motivate teams, and how to extend the lessons of sports beyond the court.
*From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: Everyone needs to get a bit of bad behavior out of its system every so often, and I hope the Lakers are happy with its exercise in this regard. They’ve certainly earned it, by playing near-perfect basketball for the season’s first two-plus weeks. And while a two-possession loss to a playoff team in one of the tougher arenas to play in is nothing to freak out over, still, Los Angeles could have had this with better play.
(hat tip to Clarence Gaines for the P-Jax interview and kaifa in the comments for Kelly Dwyer’s comments.)