Lakers/Nuggets: Bad Way to Start the Year

J.M. Poulard —  January 1, 2012

Nuggets 99, Lakers 90 (box score)

Offensive efficiency: Nuggets 100.0, Lakers 90.9

True Shooting %: Nuggets 56.8%, Lakers 45.7%

The Good

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are a talented pair of big men. Their play helped the Lakers remain close throughout the contest despite shooting an abysmal 39.8 percent from the field. The pair attacked the boards, capturing seven of the Lakers 12 offensive rebounds but their biggest contributions came in their effectiveness in scoring situations.

When faced with single coverage, Pau and Andrew were extremely tough to cover as evidenced by their 38 combined points on 15-for-27 shooting from the field.

Also, Kobe showed a tremendous amount of patience and trust in his teammates early in the contest as he repeatedly tried to force-feed the ball inside.

When the coaching staff has a look at the film of this game, they will realize that they missed several opportunities to get the ball inside and thus could have had more opportunities at the rim (Gasol and Bynum produced 14 field goal attempts directly at the rim).

The Bad

The Los Angeles Lakers witnessed the Denver Nuggets make most of the energy plays in this game. Indeed, Denver seemingly picked up every loose ball and raced down the other way for 26 transition points.

Historically, the Lakers have struggled to defend speedy point guards; and such was the case tonight with Ty Lawson, but in many of the fast break opportunities for the Nuggets, they had a man running ahead of the pack just waiting for the pass to get his easy basket.

The Nuggets’ activity against the Lakers allowed them to match their rebounding total despite a big day on the boards by the Lakers twin towers; who combined for 27 rebounds.

Mike Brown will have to get back to basics and may have to consider sending all of his perimeter players back to half court once the Lakers attempt a shot to avoid getting beat in the transition game.

The Ugly

Kobe may have had a real tough shooting night (six-for-28 from the field), but it masked what seemed to be a bigger issue for the team: execution on offense in the second half. The Lakers turned the ball over far too often and also repeatedly managed to forget that Andrew Bynum was not only having a good game; but that he was well on his way to replicating his performance from yesterday in Los Angeles against the Denver Nuggets.

Thus, Kobe Bryant will get the lion’s share of the blame for seemingly wanting to take each and every shot, but the truth is that his teammates were passive for the most part on offense and looked to him to bail them out (with the exception of MWP and Bynum).

With that said, the Nuggets hesitated to double-team the big men on the block late in the fourth quarter with Kobe on the court; the end result was that the Lakers went to Pau on a few trips in the final period where he either scored or fed cutters for baskets.

Nonetheless, Kobe is not without fault in this one. He settled for several long-range jump shots despite his inability to connect from deep (he was three-for-15 from beyond 16 feet). The veteran guard should have taken advantage of his defenders by beating them off the dribble and getting in the lane, especially in the fourth quarter since Nene was playing with foul trouble and seemed tentative on defense.

J.M. Poulard