Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Darius Soriano —  February 3, 2012

Records: Lakers 13-9 (6th in West), Nuggets 15-7 (2nd in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 103.8 (13th in NBA), Nuggets 108.6 (1st in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 100.5 (9th in NBA), Nuggets 101.6 (13th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Nuggets: Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Nene, Timofey Mozgov
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Blake (out), Derrick Caracter (out); Nuggets: none

The Lakers Coming in: The “Grammy Trip” starts tonight with the Lakers playing their next 6 games on the road. And while Kobe and rest of the guys welcome the chance to improve on their wretched road record, the potential for numerous losses are real on this trip. Outside of the Raptors and the Knicks – who both provide challenges in their own right, every team the Lakers will face on this trip has a winning record and is currently a playoff team. No game will be “easy” in the classic sense, and with the Lakers struggling to find their stride so far this season even in games that were considered sure wins, that logic would go out the window. A blowout win over the Bobcats doesn’t change that fact and when you add in that this trip is typically a difficult one, it only adds to the thought that anything could happen while away from Staples.

That said, the Lakers are looking better lately. Their offense (even if you account for playing lesser defenses) is running more smoothly with outside shots starting to fall. Mike Brown has (seemingly) found rotations and player combinations that he’s more comfortable with and that’s led to better consistency from the majority of his roster. Whether this holds true on the trip remains to be seen, but with a long road trip starting the team does seem to be playing good basketball, and that is somewhat comforting.

Moving from the team to an individual level, it was announced that both Kobe and Andrew Bynum were selected as starters on the Western Conference All-Star team. For Kobe it’s his 14th consecutive selection, continuing his reign as the elite shooting guard on the West (as well as the most popular one considering it’s the fan’s vote that gave him the starting nod). As for Bynum, it’s his first selection and I couldn’t be more proud of him. This was a goal he’s set for himself in recent seasons and for him to get there this year is a great moment for him. He’s put up strong numbers and, even more importantly, has impacted the game the way an All-Star big man should by being a real presence in the paint on both ends of the floor. Both Kobe and ‘Drew deserve this recognition and, again, I’m very happy for both of them.

The Nuggets Coming in: This team has won 7 of 10, but has actually lost 2 of their last 3 games. They are, however, coming off a romp of the Clippers by demolishing the other L.A. team with a second half run based off shooting and solid defense. They showed, once again, that they can hang with any team in the league via their depth and ability to hit shots while playing good enough D to get the stops they need.

Really, that’s the formula for the Nuggets. They have the number one offense in the league (in terms of offensive efficiency) and simply wear opponents down over the course of the game with a diverse group of players that comes at you in waves. They can go big (as they do with their starting line up) or small (as they do with their reserves when they play Al Harrington – a strong candidate for 6th MOY, by the way, and a backcourt of Lawson and Miller) and lose nothing in terms of effectiveness while making their opponents switch up their style of play. They have good defensive wings (Afflalo and Gallo are both long, rangy defenders) and their bigs do a good job of protecting the paint. And it all adds up to wins. This is, for all intents and purposes, one of the better teams in the league.

Nuggets Blogs: Roundball Mining Company is a great site that gives you all the info you need on this team.

Keys to game: This is the 2nd night of a back to back for Denver (and the middle game of 3 in 3 nights), so how the Nuggets respond to playing last night on the road and traveling back to Denver will play a big role in who wins this game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when the Nuggets were playing in Denver, hadn’t played the day before, and a visiting team was playing on the second night of a back to back, their record is 52-8 going back to 2007. That’s dominant level stuff. Now that the tables are turned, will they respond the way that “traveling” teams have in the past, considering the Lakers have been rested and have been in Denver since yesterday?

Of course, regardless of how tired or rested (considering how much the starters had to play in the 2nd half against the Clippers) the Nuggets are, this game will come down to more than just this one variable. As stated above, the Nuggets are a talented, deep team. They have 11 players that average at least 10 minutes a night and can throw a variety of lineups at their opponents to capitalize on any weaknesses.

Considering this will be the third time these teams meet, we’ve already seen a few trends:

  • The Nuggets’ speed and ability to force a fast tempo created problems for the Lakers.
  • The Nuggets’ small lineup with Al Harrington stretching the floor as a PF created defensive issues that the Lakers couldn’t solve.
  • When the Lakers were able to establish the post early with Bynum and Gasol, they hurt the Nuggets’ interior D and forced double teams.
  • The Lakers had issues making the defense pay for those double teams by hitting only 6 of their 47 three point attempts.
  • The Lakers limited the Nuggets’ offensive rebounding in both contests.
  • Kobe Bryant was awful in both contests, combining for 33 points on 26% shooting (1-13 from three point land) with 10 turnovers.

Considering these trends, the keys to a Laker win become easier to decipher. First, the Lakers must play a more deliberate game by establishing the post early, but not at the expense of turning Kobe into a long jump shooter. The offense need not tilt entirely in Kobe’s direction, but having him on an island against Afflalo and Gallinari proved to be a bad strategy that resulted in too many long jumpers where long rebounds led to Nugget run outs. The Lakers must get Kobe the ball on the move and going towards the basket while also involving him a bit more in the P&R as a ball handler.

While looking to involve Kobe, the Lakers still mustn’t ignore their big men. Mozgov and Nene are no slouches as defenders, but Bynum has shown he can muscle both of them and Pau has the both the post skill and foot speed to attack 10 feet and in against either defender. They too must see the ball to make the Denver D make decisions on how they’re going to defend these two. Will they single cover or double them? If they choose the latter, the Lakers’ shooters must hit some shots to make the defense pay. With Goudelock taking a bigger role in the offense and the 2nd unit including him, Murphy, and Kapono, hopefully the long ball will fall.

Defensively, the Lakers must protect against the speedy Lawson in transition while also making sure to slow Andre Miller when he gets a head of steam, as he too will attack the rim in the open court. However, just as important as keeping the pace reasonable, is handling the Nuggets’ half court attack. This means getting out on shooters, contesting shots, and rotating crisply and decisively when the Nuggs run their P&R with Al Harrington. If the Lakers surrender open three pointers to Gallo, Harrington, Lawson, Fernandez, and Afflalo, this game could get out of hand quickly. I know it’s easier said than done, but keeping the penetration to a minimum and then rotating to shooters will be the difference bettween open shots and contested ones. The Lakers need the latter.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start on KCAL locally and ESPN nationally. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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132 responses to Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. Denver is 1 of the teams with whom we will ultimately be battling for seeding. Would be nice to win the division, but if not, we will be in the 4-7 catgeory just like Denver. So games like this are big. Especially since it is a B2B for them, we need to get this. It doesn’t get any easier as we move through the setlist known as the grammy roadtrip.

  2. Nice writeup. In the first 2 games, Afflalo has really been an effective defender against Kobe. Pounding the ball inside is clearly the best strategy, but the Nuggets are likely to pack the paint and encourage the Lakers to shoot long jumpers. Sounds like just the recipe for Goudelock to continue his impressive play….

    Road trips like this have generally produced at least one stinker (like maybe a loss in Toronto) but also at least one impressive win (say, a win in Boston). Getting off to a good start with a win against a Denver team in the middle of a back-to-back-to-back seems almost necessary given the rest of the teams they will face on this trip.

  3. Would love to watch this game, as I think that Denver will be a tough out in the playoffs even without a true superstar. Unfortunately, the game starts at 4:30am where I live…

    Adande has a nice article on them:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7535800/nba-denver-nuggets-winning-no-stars

    And to get the bad blood going for the game, here’s Kobe in Celtics gear, non-photoshopped! NSFW, and possibly vomit-inducing.

    http://blogs.thescore.com/tbj/2012/02/03/pics-kobe-bryant-on-the-celtics/#more-34261

  4. Denver was the 6/28 and 1/8 from 3 game, so I will be interested to see how KB approaches this. The Lakers need to keep the pace slow, run clock, and play inside-out against most teams, but they really need to do that against this team.

    George Karl tweaked Kobe last night, saying that he “prefers CP3 and Chauncey as closer to Kobe down the hall there.” A little gamesmanship, I’d say.

  5. This is one of those games where Pau & Drew have to dominate Nene & Mosgov. Kobe has to feed them early and often. Lakers starters have to outplay Denver starters too. Can’t afford to be down when the bench comes in Den bench avg. 30 pts a game. MWp has to limit Gallinari keep him off the FT line. Last night none of denver players played more than 33 mins. so fatigue won’t be a factor.

    I think Lakers come out on top show new wrinkles and better chemistry with practice time. Pau and Drew should each have 25

  6. I have to give credit where credit is due… I think I am funny… but Kevin in the previous post made me actually laugh… sarcasm at its finest…

    “As slow as Fisher is and old as he is. He makes up for it with moxie, basketball IQ and clutch plays. Remember the winning play he made vs Denver out hustling Lawson to the sideline. Fish made another play like that as well. You can’t teach that so I would rather have any other PG the first 3 quarters but I’ll take Fisher the 4th quarter along side Kobe.”

  7. The only way the Lakers are winning tonight is if all the Big 3 play well.

    ___

    That is true against quality opponent. But, still, fair point.

  8. Aaron – gotta love Kevin’s enthusiasm. I agree that Fish has a place on this team – dead last on the rotation.

  9. I don’t want to jinx, but….

    I remember some article from last year that said B2Bs with the 2nd game in Den (first game elsewhere) was about as close to a scheduling loss as could be imagined and, what was striking to me was that Denver was only marginally better than other teams when they had to play on the road, fly, then play the next night in Denver– i.e., the grueling nature of the altitude shift overwhelmingly trumped experience of playing at altitude and HCA.

    let’s hope this holds true tonight. i could see this roadie going either way– let’s get things started on the right foot– that means: feeding the bigs, weakside cutting, and no posts from Ken referring to ‘Metta (insert insult of the day)’.

    GO LAKERS!!!

  10. LOL. have to take the good with the bad.

  11. i think our 2nd unit will decide this game. denver will apply pressure in order to jumpstart its transition attack, so goudelock and the turnover-prone matt barnes have to be extra careful.

    also, denver won’t use single-coverage on bynum. drew must find open shooters and open shooters must make the most of their opportunities.

    should they miss, tangentially, they need to win 50-50 balls and create extra possessions. at the very least, they must be prepared to defend in transition.

  12. The last 2 games against Denver – Drew got 29+13, and then 18+16. Kobe played poorly in both games, which we split. Kobe was getting blasted everywhere with negative commentary, and many were ready to name Drew MVP. Hard to believe that was only 1 month ago.

  13. Personally I’ll be happy if the Lakers go at least 3-3 on the 6 game road trip. Their current road record of 2-7 can’t afford anything less. Consider after this trip the Lakers will have played 15 road games. That will be almost half of this season’s total (33). If they return with a road record of 4-11 (only 2 wins out of 6) with only 18 road games to go, they would have to go 12-6 in order to just finish 16-17 on the road. Any chance of finishing with a plus .500 road record starts tonight. This is serious.

  14. BigCity: I am with u, 3-3 would be fine. robinred/mimsy: D12 is coming, and I am not listening to any naysayers : ) Chearn: I actually thought about Shaq too !! We are so desperate : ) All: just watched the end of the Orlando game – that Howard guy is pretty good. And Hedu is recovering.

  15. I read another article today on Hoopsworld. People close to Howard says he is losing interest in L.A. He doesn’t want to follow in Shaq footsteps. While I haven’t read an absolute from D-12, from the different articles it does seem like it’s becoming less likely.

  16. Breaking News!

    Lakers win in Denver!

    Due to severe snow storm in Denver they didn’t make it from California so Lakers WIN!

    Fisher was named MVP for the game because he called the taxi that got the Lakers to the arena.

  17. Michale H: Didn’t u read robinred’s comment? Don’t tell me that : ) As I said many times, we should have done this in pre-season when the window was open. If we do not get him – it will be bleak and I refuse to enter that darkness yet.

  18. @chibi I agree Bynum finding the man out of the double is crucial so is Kobe. He waits too long to pass out the double sometimes. I think Brown should put McRoberts on Harrington Murphy will get torched by Al.

    Darius, Nuggets are better contenders than Lakers no way hosay.

    Calderon had 17 ast. tonight. Just a valuable tibit.

  19. #19. Did I say something different?

  20. Darius,
    I only let you know when I disagree with you FYI. But to even things out you were the only one right to say the Celtics are in more trouble as the Knicks have a younger core. However you shouldn’t have felt compelled to look objective when picking the Nuggets over the Lakers as contenders. You know with Kobe, Bynum, and Gasol the Lakers have a better chance for many reasons to compete for a title over the Nuggetsbwho are without a star. Much easier to get an average PG than to get a All Star.

    19)
    Harrington has lost all athletism. Even murphy can guard him. All he does is spot up.

  21. #20. Again, did I say something different?

  22. 21) Harrington is slimmed down and been playing well. Murphy’s footspeed is turtle pace McRoberts would do a better job on Al. But I’m sure Murphy plays to space the floor in 2nd unit

  23. Darius,
    You’re right. I have no idea why they had you go with the Nuggets. It was clear from your response you were going with the Lakers.

  24. Why don’t the lakers go after sasha? He is not in the NBA anymore, can play the point better than anyone on the Lakers (took over Farmar when Farmar was out for injury for a few weeks), has a pretty fast dribble, and is a great shooter.

  25. i am going to be so ticked off if this knicks-celtics game goes into OT.

  26. paul pierce is trying to hide his receding hairline with his headband, a la Lebron. pathetic.

  27. Lakers game is also on ESPN3.com

  28. How gullible I am. I believed Ken and went racing around the internet to see if the game was cancelled. Thanks Ken.

  29. Aloha Robert,

    I feel your pain but according to the article sources say that Howard has already informed the Lakers that he will not sign an extension and he will test the market. Not from Howard’s lips but still pretty bleak.

  30. MWP – Gallinari should be a fun match up.

  31. Drew off to a strong start. Keep feeding him.

  32. Hey Kevin! How is Fisher doing on Lawson?

    Sad

  33. Murphy is wearing cement shoes.

  34. Ken,
    It looks like Fish is guarding Lawson as well is Murphy is guarding Harrington. Neither has a chance.

    Other than that, solid start to this game.

  35. @Ken bad call on and 1. maybe brown should take murphy off al but mcroberts on him

  36. Murphy can’t guard me.

    Quiz.

    Name a team with worse shooting small forwards then Lakers?

    Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz times up.

  37. Once again, if we could just make a three here or there….0 for 5 from deep to start…not the best sign…Drew needs to pass out of the double quicker

  38. Michael H; We need to go for him even w/o the extension. We offer AB/PG/TPE/Jeannie/and Jim Buss’ wardrobe. Otherwise, aloha means goodbye ; )

  39. The “second unit” plays like a YMCA pickup team.

  40. any link for the game please..

  41. mini-mamba!

  42. I really am confused when I watch Paul Pierce get foul call after foul call and then I watch Kobe get fouled and not get the calls.

  43. 43: Because they know Pierce needs the help. :)

  44. Imagine what Bynum would do on offense if he was surrounded by four 3 point shooters creating space, like Dwight Howard.

  45. can we trade zirk, ken, and robert?

  46. chibi: If u think that will help get D12, then by all means. So now it is AB/PG/TPE/Jeannie/Jim Buss’ wardrobe/Ken/Zirk/and Me.

  47. Denver seem to get away with so much mugging against Kobe

  48. Metta is reminding us tonight why he is on the Lakers. Gallinari 0-4 2 points.

  49. We can trade them for a complainer to be named later.

  50. Lawson points against Fisher 10.
    Points against Gogo. ZERO

    Oh Kevin@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

  51. @ inwit 44

    Well…if Bynum knew how to pass out of the double teams like DH12 then maybe those shooters might make a difference, but the guy gets stymied by extra defenders. Howard is light years ahead when it comes to passing out.

  52. 48) singled that out earlier. he’s doing great so far

    Ken, fish always gets outscored but he’s holding his own. goudelock play is solid

  53. What’s with Kobe and Denver. 3rd game against them and he is shooting 25%.

    Why?

  54. Looked bad when Mozgov went down, but hopefully it’s not serious.

  55. KenOak: U are accurately describing the differences between AB and D12. perhaps u need to be included in the trade as well ; )

  56. KenOak, the double teams come a lot quicker from 10 feet away.

  57. Poor transition defense by the Lakers tonight

  58. that’s twice kobe’s poor transition defense has resulted in easy baskets.

  59. Funny inwit that Gasol doesn’t have as much trouble passing as Bynum. Bynum has a hard time recognizing the double and then passing it out when it comes. He just needs to work on it.

  60. chibi: No ‘complaining” about my boy. Especially when he is heating up.

  61. every laker player is getting blown by on defense. not good effort with 2 days off.

  62. Bynum is so horrible with double teams! He just can’t pass.

  63. that’s it – let’s get chippy – I like it – MWP throws a couple guys down – then AB gets in someone’s face – we need this

  64. Love to see anger by Andrew. Outstanding!

  65. Goudelock isn’t baby Mamba.

    Goudelock is the Black Mamba.

    Kobe, see AG.

  66. Yes, Goudelock is the SHOOTER that the Lakers have needed, and now have.

  67. that 3 pointer at the end of the clock was sick !!!

  68. Matt Barnes was wide open for the alley-oop and Kobe missed it.

  69. So happy that Goudelock is getting burn!

  70. Am I missing something? McRoberts get no play yet Murphy is bad on defense, rebounding and fouls to much? Why?

  71. Ugh, Valentine’s day …

  72. those 2 bogus calls may cost us the game

  73. Brown is a mess. He takes Go out for Fisher.

  74. Wow Fernandez is competing hard with Chris Paul for the title of best flopper in basketball.

  75. Fernandez is a nasty flopper. Guess that’s all you can do when you’re the weight of a wet Kleenex. Hate those tactics.

    Bynum holds the ball far too long when doubled.

    Fingers crossed that this is a sign of things to come from Goudelock. Loving his game tonight.

  76. Ken: Yes – More Goudelock; Less Murphy

  77. It’s incredible how every single ball that goes out of bounds is off the Lakers.

  78. These are some really awful calls. That wasn’t a foul *and it wasn’t tipped by Denver….

  79. Why isn’t Goudelock in instead of Fisher? And this has to be the worst officiated game of the season.

  80. Fisher with a huge basket

  81. Fisher’d.

  82. #79, Rudy: That’s why.

  83. Fischer must have huge feet, he is always stepping on the line.

  84. This game has been so badly called that if Andre Miller knifed a guy while trying to defend him, they’d call an offensive foul.

  85. are you kidding Gasol was assaulted by Harrington!

  86. They don’t call a loose ball foul there on Afflalo? Really? Wow.

  87. It is now legal to tackle Kobe?

  88. Kobe’s been a monster in terms of pure effort tonight. Strong close-outs, diving for loose balls, chasing down long rebounds.

  89. gasol was hammered

  90. >Elbow that doesn’t connect? Technical foul.
    >Checking Kobe into the boards? Denver ball!

    Remarkable.

  91. Even one call going the Lakers way and this would be over.

  92. Oh my god. No foul call on Nene and they are going to give that ball to Denver! This is ridiculous!

  93. I guess the forearm is part of the ball now too.

  94. If these clowns are ever allowed to officiate another game, it would be an absolute crime.

  95. This is starting to get really frustrating. And I almost never complain about officiating.

  96. Wow. Just wow. I don’t know what to say.

  97. How can you overturn the call on that video? The only thing conclusive about the reply was that they missed yet another foul committed by DEN. This is nonsense.

  98. Good God the refs are AWFUL tonight. Bynum got mugged. Pau got mugged earlier. Kobe’s been getting attacked all game long. This is a world-class exhibition in how not to referee.

  99. Worst officiating I’ve seen in awhile.

  100. Drew got tapped, but he has to finish that play.

  101. Criminal

  102. That rule Must be changed. If you can replay the out of bounds play then you have to be able to call or not call a foul there too! That’s just egregious.

  103. Tra- He hit his arm when he went up to dunk it!!! Not much he could have done there.

  104. Huge win !!!!!

  105. Fish came up big once again! Played the quickest guy in the league about as well as you can on that final play. Good win against Denver and the refs!

  106. good game boys and a big F U to the refs

  107. whoomp. there it is.

  108. Great D by Ron Artest (MWP) on last Denver play

  109. We won despite the fix being in. The refs shouldn’t even get paid for that game.

  110. coachthorpe david b. thorpe
    100 percent certain Bynum got fouled. If it was Kobe shooting, he’d be on the line. Blatant fouls have to be called.
    4 minutes ago

  111. Wow. D-fish may not be consistently good but he still has his moments. Great D!

  112. Lakers should get two W’s for that one.

  113. Great win but the worst called game I have seen since the fix in Sacremento!

    Very curious about Brown’s rotations.

    Will take it though.

  114. fisher big shot and good defense on lawson last play.. good team win

  115. Wow.
    Long time since I’ve seen a game so badly officiated. Seen some bad all around ones, but this one was especially lopsided in favor of the home team. Kobe was hammered all night without a whistle. And I don’t usually complain about the refs.

    Nice win. To be able to play through all that and get a win against a quality opponent in a tough arena is impressive.

    -S

  116. 3 in a row !!!!!

  117. Good win.
    That was officiating?

  118. 111 robinred- It was a foul, but I’m not so certain that Kobe would have gotten the call tonight. There were a noticeable lack of calls for Kobe. (As always.)

  119. 21 bench points, 11 TO’s. Lakers starting to come together

  120. Yes – can you imagine how Kobe would have scored in the Bird/Magic era when superstars got the calls.

  121. Bad Officiating …
    Bad Shooting Night From Kobe …
    Bad Free Throw Shooting …
    Bad Weather …

    EXCELLENT VICTORY … On To The Next One

  122. Officiating was bad, but Lakers were also losing their composure over it.

    Unnecessary T by Bynum. Whining after every missed call. Allowing for an uncontested dunk on the 2nd to last play. Allowing the hot hand – Harrington – be wide open for four minutes straight.

    Could have avoided the official mess if Lakers just played a little smarter down the stretch.

    And suffice it to say, once a fluke, twice a concern, three times a trend. Denver defends Kobe excellently – with very strong and efficient doubles. He was doing a very nice job passing out of the double team, but often once received that ball would stick. Either that shot has to go up or the right pass needs to be made.

    Credit to Fish tonight for what I thought was a solid game. And nice help from Goudelock off the bench – dude’s a little all over the place (and maybe turnover prone), but its nice to see an athletic shooter. If only he knew how to play defense.

  123. Good win for the Lakers as they start the Grammy Trip 1-0. Goudelock, 13 points on 6-10 FGs is starting to show that he can be a reliable scorer off the bench, what a good second round pick Mitch Kupchak made.

    The officiating was consistently bad for both teams and yes I did watch the game. Lakers overcame and won the game. Very pleased with the win. Gasol had a great night on the boards with 17.

  124. The refs should be charged with attempted robbery!!!

  125. Good to see Andrew Bynum play like this for two consecutive games. I hope he can finally understand that he is a valuable player on this team regardless of how many points he score.

  126. Someone else can fill in the details, but MWP hit a 3 near the end, Fisher hit a 2, and together they made that last stop.

    That’s from the 40% of the Laker starters who are a disgrace to to the organization.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-1jgNhopNo

  127. Yes Fisher played good d on the last play. Not buying Metta though. Was 0 for 4 on free throws and amazingly did make 1 of this 4 shots longer then 2 feet. He hurts the offense which makes it hard to win.

    Barnes is not much better.

  128. -130

    Not only that, the former Ron Artest did limit Gallinari to 1-9 shooting for 6 points.

    With Goudelock playing so well, why not go with a 3 guard line up if you absolutely need to have a point guard? Kobe can move to the 3, and that’s definitely a better option than Barnes/MWP at the 3, and very few teams use big 2 guards anymore so the Lakers could get away with using 2 below 6ft3 guys in the back court

  129. Aloha Ken,

    Have to disagree with you on Metta. Gallinari averages nearly 18 points a game. He went 1-9 tonight and the 1 came in transition when Pau was slow to close. Metta’s D was a huge difference maker tonight. Denver averages 107 points per. We held them to 89 a lot of credit has to be given to Metta.

  130. Those 2 bad calls at the end of the game… uuuuhhhh…

    How pathetic…

  131. 130)
    You need to understand its impossible to be bad all of the time. If you’re bad 50 percent of the time and everyone else in the league is only bad 20 percent of the time you’re the worst player in the NBA.

  132. 133)
    Exactly correct. There is a difference between making a couple plays at the end and having an actual good game. Artest had a great defensive game. Forget about the three at the end. He played an entire game of basketball. Fisher made a long two and didn’t get burned by Lawson on the last play where Lawson kind of choked and tried to execute the play that was designed for Harrington. Karl most likley guessed that Artest would come over and provide help to free up Al. That didn’t happen and Lawson didn’t want to take the last shot if he couldn’t get by Fisher on his first couple steps toward the lane. That’s how I would describe most of Derek’s entire game tonight. I’m sorry to single you out. I really am. I thought this was a good opportunity to dispel some of the Fisher myths. He made one of two open jumpers down the stretch and didn’t get burned on the last play forcing the first option on the last play to pass it to the second option. It was something that every NBA PG is expected to do.