Lakers/Nuggets: Schedule Win

Phillip Barnett —  February 3, 2012

Boxscore: Lakers 93, Nuggets 89
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 101.9, Nuggets 96.61
True Shooting Percentage: Lakers 52.2, Nuggets 52.3

The Good:
For the first time in the three games versus the Nuggets, the Lakers, and especially Kobe, finally made Denver pay for sending those hard double teams at the Lakers biggest offensive weapons. On more than one occasion, Kobe found a way to get out of a tough situation by finding the open man. In Darius’ preview, he pointed out that, “the Lakers had issues making the defense pay for those double teams by hitting only 6 of their 47 three point attempts.” While the boys in the Forum Blue and Gold were still awful from range (four-for-13 on the night), they still found ways to put points on the board — and of the four that they hit, three of them were timely threes that the Lakers needed down the stretch. Fish hit a long two in the corner with his foot on the line and Jason Kapono hit a long two of his own off the dribble, which definitely skew what seemed like another horrible shooting night in the Lakers favor. Kobe finished the night with nine assists, and made another great pass to Andrew Bynum with less than a minute to play which would have been his 10th, but ‘Drew whiffed on a bunny around the rim (with a little help from the slap on the arm Nene gave him). Regardless, this was one of the highlights of the night.

Also, the Lakers played another great defensive game. The Nuggets scored 18 fast break points and recorded 44 points in the paint — the same exact numbers they had just a night earlier against the Clippers. The difference between the two games is that the Nuggets were able to launch wide open three pointers against the Clips (the made 12-of-21) and shot 53.4 percent from the field. Against the Lakers, a lot of those threes were contested, much like the game winning attempt Al Harrington put up with Ron all over him. The Nuggets shot a pedestrian 44 percent from the field (relative) and just five-for-23 from behind the arc. Timofey Mozgov was the only Nuggets starter who shot on the plus side of 50 percent, and he only took three shots on the night. The Lakers are still trying to find their stride on the offensive end, but are becoming one of the league’s premier defensive teams under Mike Brown’s system.

The Bad:
Going back to Darius’s preview, he noted that when George Karl went small with Al Harrington playing the four, the Lakers had problems finding a way to defend them. Tonight was no exception as Harrington almost single handedly kept the Nuggets alive down the stretch. Harrington hit a pull up jumper over Pau just under six minutes left to play. About 40 seconds later, he hit a three on the left wing, then hit another from range about 30 seconds later. Then, with about 3:30 left o play, Harrington was able to get to the rim and finish for his 10th straight point. The Small ball game left the Lakers defense struggling for stops during that four minute stretch, after they had been solid for the better part of the first 40 minutes.

Also, Kobe’s shooting versus the Nuggets has been bad, to say the least. Through three games, he’s shooting less than 30 percent from the field, 2-of-17 from three point range and has 12 turnovers. Give a lot of credit to Aaron Afflalo who defends as well as anyone in the league, but it’s really a team effort from Denver. They’re one of the few teams that still dedicate their defense to making sure Kobe doesn’t get his by sending hard double-teams whenever possible. A lot of teams have sent occasional double teams while trying to make Kobe a jump shooter as much as possible, but Denver likes to make Kobe’s night as long as possible, by sending tough, physical double teams, sometimes as far as 35 feet away from the basket — which makes passes out of those double teams much tougher, too.

The Ugly:
There isn’t too much to be picky about in a tough road win to start off the Grammy trip, but the Lakers free throw shooting was awful tonight. 15-for-25 from the line isn’t going to get it done as this trip continues. Even five more makes turns tonight into a completely different game down the stretch, leaving the Nuggets fighting just to get back into the game instead of one possession away with 30 seconds left to play. MWP was the biggest offender going 0-for-4 from the line, but Fish was the only Laker to play more than 20 minutes without missing a free throw.

Play of the Night:
With just over three minutes left to play in the game, Andrew Bynum made a great block on Nuggets center Nene then hustled down the court and received an alley-oop pass from Kobe, which Bynum laid in. It’s always good to see the big guys get rewarded for running the floor, it’s a bonus if it comes immediately after a great defensive play. Check the highlight below (about the 1:20 mark).


Phillip Barnett


to Lakers/Nuggets: Schedule Win

  1. Polar Bear Squares February 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    great analysis but … you just couldn’t watch this game and NOT notice how AWFUL the refs were. I mean, lawd lawd, they were bad.


  2. This was a pretty impressive win mainly do to “akward officiating.” Akward meaning how you felt watching as you realized this might be similar to professional wrestling. It was hard to imagine referees could be that bad not on purpose. I’m not being sarcastic. With the history of the league you need to question these things. It’s happened before.


  3. Yea… A coach just said this. It’s time for people not to laugh for saying Bynum might be the best Center in the league. 

    Despite Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s telling ESPN 710’s “Mason & Ireland” show on Friday that Bynum wanted to shoot jump shots more than he wanted to work on post moves when he used to coach him, the Lakers’ 24-year-old center was praised by Nuggets coach George Karl before the game. 

    “I think he is probably the best paint player right now,” Karl said. “He gets great catches and he is extremely powerful and difficult to cover with one player.” 


  4. This year Pau doesn’t deserve to be in the all-star game – his defense most games is just awful. Opps! Sorry! I forgot defense doesn’t count a lick when choosing an all-star.

    Anyway, Pau reached instead of moving his feet, he didn’t raise his arms on outside shooters (Harrington anybody), and he just seemed extremely tentative tonight. Don’t give me the tired stuff — they had two days off before this game, and Denver played last night in L.A.

    I really didn’t get why Brown pulled Bynum and left Pau in at the very end of the game – based on how Pau had been playing defense.


  5. Now that just means in the half court Bynum is the best Center but including the open court he would take Howard. This is exactly my stance on this issue. This is only one coach but he is an NBA head coach. However in the post season the games gets slower. That makes it closer. 😉


  6. Congrats Mini-Mamba.Congrats AB.Congrats Kobe for putting up with awful awful refs.Had there been LeBron he would have shot 25FTs.It’s been like this like forever.


  7. How do we characterize this victory? How about, “it took a team.”

    Kobe took many shots (7-23), didn’t make many– mostly made his free throws (5-7), and almost made 10 assists (9). Pau and Drew together took the same number of shots (23), but made 15 of them, and one more free throw. Kobe made 6 rebounds, but Pau made 17, Drew made 10, and MWP made 9.

    Is that all? Well actually the pg position, shared between Fisher and Goudelock, got 23. One might look down on the scoring of MWP, except that Gallinari, his man, went 1-9.

    But the real story was the way the Lakers finished. It was almost like that Celtics final playoff game all over again. Everyone chipped in a few points (including MWP and Fisher), but the real difference was defense. Despite some frustrating officiating, the Lakers mostly kept their cool, and the defense held–Fisher rotating correctly, and MWP stifling Harrington on a final Nugget 3 point attempt.

    For one night, the new Cleveland offense ended up looking more like the triangle of old–with half court team offense and great transition defense ruling the night.

    The Lakers had only 11 turnovers, and Kobe only had 2.

    The screams have been to solve a gaping pg problem, especially against Ty Lawson speed, with a significant trade and a retirement. The starting pg position tonite was a virtual wash (Lawson scored 14, Fisher 10 in fewer minutes).

    Nugget fast breaks and lightening speed penetration were neutralized by team defense.

    Last night in Denver, the Lakers found their elusive Mojo again, and chemistry flowed all night. I hope that they bottled up some for the next 5 away games . . . . .


  8. obviously, goudelock shot extremely well, but another thing he did well was take care of the ball. 0 turnovers on the night, with corey brewer picking him up full-court and ty lawson looking to pick his pocket. definite contributions.

    would have had a stellar night had he done a better job of navigating through screens. he handed rudy fernandez a couple of wide-open looks.

    i hope teams continue to trap the hell out of drew. even though there will be growing pains he’ll level up again sooner than later, rpg-style.


  9. To reiterate: Those refs should have been arrested for attempted robbery.

    It seems that David Stern and the boys have a vendetta against us. The nixed trade of Chris Paul with everyone basically abandoning ship so the Hornets will end up Eminu and draft picks for Chris Paul instead of our deal!?! Way to protect NO’s interest Stern old boy. The Clips are making some great moves. I just hope we can by the trade deadline. Come on JR Smith. We could use his 60 points off the bench.


  10. Anonymous comment #5 by Busboys4me. Sorry Hotel Lobby.


  11. Great way to start off a 6 game road trip, winning vs a good solid team like Denver. Also want to give D. Fish kudos for not letting Ty Lawson drive by him for a lay-up on the Nuggets last offensive play of the game (Nuggets were down by 2), thus making him kick the ball out to Harrington who attempted a desperation 3 with time running out and Metta World Peace draped all over him. Great team win.


  12. WTF comment of the day from

    Jason “The Inkjet” Terry:

    Jason Terry Mocks Lakers’ Defense in the Playoffs


    Jason Terry on the Mavericks losing at home to the Indiana Pacers

    Quote of the night: “It looked like we were playing the Lakers’ defense in the playoffs and he was getting wide-open shots.” — The Mavericks’ Jason Terry, after Indiana’s Paul George torched Dallas for 30 points, including a 7-for-11 mark on 3-pointers.

    He’s acting like he wants to make this a rivalry!!!


  13. drrayeye: Yes, Game 7 like win, all the way down to the MWP 3. Aaron: I actually agree with most of ur Bynum/D12 comparison inc the playoff part. So, it is closer, the problem is “closer” is not good enough. The history of the NBA is littered with mediocre teams. To win it all, it takes superstars, so the gap is the difference between a ring and a 2nd-3rd round exit. Also, AB used to have a FT advantage and now this is an official weakness.


  14. Kobe needs 50 more for #5. Utah has lost 2 straight but will also be coming off a day’s rest vs. our B2B.


  15. “It looked like we were playing the Lakers’ defense in the playoffs and he was getting wide-open shots.”

    That’s what happens sometimes when you have old guys playing guard, JET.


  16. Hate to do this on a win but a question Mime Brown’s coaching.

    1-clearly Pau could not guard Harrington. He was wide open or running by Pau for easy buckets. That’s called adjustment Brown.
    2-Murphy is dreadfully slow, bad defender, average rebounder and fouls like a bandit. Why is he playing over McRoberts? Because of one good game where he was wide open against a D-league team?
    3-Golock is our 4th best player. He can shoot and penetrate. Why did Brown replace the hottest guy with 6:34 left in tbe 4th quarter? Lucky it worked out as Fisher was good but in 20 of the 23 games it has not.

    That’s all. Tonight is very tough as Utah is waiting for Lakers. You seldom beat them twice in Utah. Need Kobe to shoot better and Pau to score as he looked very tired in the mountains last night. Utah my 5, hope I am wrong.


  17. Lots of teams want to be rivals of the Lakers. Just in the past 10 years, Portland, Utah, Sacramento, the Clippers, Denver and (briefly) Phoenix have all had “rivalries”.

    The Lakers have only ever had one rival, and they’ll fade into irrelevancy like the rest once #17 is hanging in Staples.


  18. Drreyeye

    Everything you said was true but you left a few out. Denver flew all night in a massive snow storm with a delayed landing until 4:45 in tbe morning from LA.

    Lakers were resting(probably except Metta) in the Ritz getting a sound night if sleep.

    Also Gall was wide open against Metta but has a problem against tbe Lakers(see missed layup).



  19. Final thought. I promise.

    If OKC beat SA and Clippers get lost in DC and Denver will lose in Portland Lakers could be in 2nd place tonight.

    Or if they lose and others win they could be in 8th place.

    Now that’s weird stuff!!!


  20. Well, Lakers won in mile high city when all people thought it is a loss again. For that progress, we fans should be thankful for such containment, was it perfect? No. However, the defensive grit of Artest compensated the bricks brought by World Peace. Fisher was connecting on the outside reminding us 0.4 Fish of yesteryears tho’ he gave back a lot of penetrating points to Lawson and Miller. Thirdly, Lakers were also handicapped by hometown officiating with all questionable call going to Nuggets and yet, we still won.
    Can you change Murphy slowness overnight or change sloppy Gasol in defense? Too late my friends, it’s like saying teaching old dogs with new tricks. However being a wise Coach, you have to study your men’s assets and capitalize them. The dynamics of the Lakers are: Peace and Barnes are our enforcers while G-luck/Kapono/Murphy/Blake are our supplementary gunners and the big three are our bread and butter. Therefore, we have to work within that dynamics and make the most out of it. For every road game a victory will be the mission whether it was done with a thing of beauty or plain ugly. Just win baby.


  21. It’s not that Pau can’t guard Harrington, it’s that if Bynum is out and Pau is on the 3pt guarding him, then the Lakers have no interior rebounding.

    McRob hasn’t been the same since he came back from injury – terribly inconsistent and unable to stretch the floor. Thats why Murphy was in, though he can’t play a lick of defense.

    I guess if Lakers wanted to match small – they could put have either Gasol/Bynum at the 5, MWP on Harrington, Kobe on the 3 (Gallinari), Barnes on the 2, and Fish/Glock on the 1, but then it’s not a long term solution. While its been 3 games, that seems like an overreactive lineup, as once the ball (on O) is out of Kobe’s hands then none of the other players can consistently create any mismatches (or consistently spread the floor).

    Plus, that’s basically giving up playing on of our best 3 players and accommodating to Denver. And that’s exactly what George Karl would want – for the Lakers to try to play consistently slow and fast.

    Lakers need to make sure when the calls aren’t going their way that they keep their composure. Like I said last night, an unnecessary T by Andrew that got Denver going, a lack of defense any defense on the 2nd to last inbounds play for a wide upon dunk by nene, the incessant whining after every made or missed basket. I don’t really get the concept of complaining – wouldn’t that only make the officials want to give you the call even less on the next play?


  22. JB: Love it. We do not even have a rival in all of sports except the Yankees. I do not accept the Celtics even now. We have been to the finals 31 times with 16 titles to their 21 times with 17. When you factor in that most of theirs came when peach baskets were used, No comparison. In any case let’s get #17.


  23. Lakers are positioned well the rest of this road trip. One thing that has been lacking on the road is confidence. Practice has really helped the offense is flowing better except for that mucky part of the game. Bynum’s getting touches , Pau getting touches. Kobe missed alot of layups (I counted 5) those will go down next game.

    Now the Lakers have another guy who can create his own shot Goudelock and can take his man off the dribble. Things are on a upward trend.


  24. Prime example of shots in the box store being meaningless. The reason Bynum got so few shots is he was swarmed by the defense whenever. He caught the ball. The entire game he had two or three Nuggets on him. That’s why it’s silly to compare the stats of guys like Dwight Howard and Amdrew Bynum to guys like Pau Gasol and Kevin Love and Blake Griffen. Big dominant Centers like Howard and Bynum have guys draped all over them the entire game. So they score and rebound less they they actually would if they were actually less dominant. But they help the team win more this way. How many points and rebounds did Drew’s teammates get because half the Nuggets squad was on Bynum’s back through the course of the game?

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. You’re correct. Championships are won because of the difference between a very good player and a great player. But in the playoffs when the game slows down and with the rate of improvement Bynum is showing I think it can be more than close. I think Karl might be right and Bynum might indeed be the best paint player in the game. Again,.. Having said that I would take Howard as he never gets injured so probably will have a much longer career. But for this post season… Maybe I take Bynum 🙂

    Also someone mentioned Andrews free throws. Maybe others have noticed that recently Bynum has gotten into game shape and because of that is now hitting his free throws.


  25. Re: The bad officiating.

    I generally cut NBA officials some slack because the game they cover is full of incomparably big strong fast athletes who not only are constantly pushing the bounds of legal contact, but who ***DELIBERATELY PRACTICE*** trying to fool the refs.

    That being said, the sin I do not forgive is officials making a call on what they BELIEVE happened on a play that they were not in a position to see what actually happened.

    The Barnes “elbowing” foul was a classic case of this.

    Barnes’ move was normal arm swing-through that Kobe does 25 times every game (at one crucial point in the 2009 Finals, Kobe whacked Mikael Pietrus while swinging his arms that way. The move cleared space for Kobe to shoot, and there was no call).

    Barnes’ swung his arms, Fernandez flopped like a speared fish, and the official behind the play who COULD NOT SEE what actually happened made the call.

    If you don’t see the play, don’t call the play. It’s that simple.


  26. So glad that none of the referees that I know officiated that Laker/Nugget game.

    The officiating was horrid.

    The Lakers lost their composure several times, but nonetheless they pulled out the win.

    This road trip is always used as the barometer to what we can expect from the Lakers moving forward.

    Lakers by three!