Box Score: Lakers 103, Nuggets 97
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.8, Nuggets 104.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 63.3%, Nuggets 50.9%
For the fourth straight game, the Lakers were going to be without Kobe Bryant, who was still out with tuberculosis or whatever that shin injury is called. Looks like it was up to the other guys to step it up again. Also, Coach Mike Brown didn’t coach due to personal reasons. John Kuester, former Detroit head man, had the reins for tonight. I almost expected a mutiny.
And, yes, I totally expected Andrew Bynum to get 35 rebounds in this game.
He didn’t. But Bynum ended up with 30 points and was actually efficient in his shooting. He went 11 for 19 on the field and he got to the stripe, too (8 for 11). Granted, it wasn’t exactly pretty early on for Bynum and we’ll get to that later. Oh, and he had eight rebounds. Disappointment.
Against San Antonio, it was Metta World Peace that achieved his Laker career high. Tonight? It was Matt Barnes. He scored 24 points and pulled down 10 caroms (tied for the Laker high!). Yeah, I’m kinda disappointed he doesn’t have much of the El DeBarge hairstyle anymore but he was certainly getting into the rhythm of the night. Barnes hustled everywhere and made all four of his shots behind the arc. They don’t win this game without his potent scoring (YES) and scrappiness. He should’ve worn a hockey mask tonight.
Speaking of Metta, he started off fast on the offensive end. He eventually ended the game with 14 points but his hands were a bigger factor today as he ended up with 5 steals. And he also grabbed 8 boards. The small forwards for the Lakers are kicking it into high gear.
Pau Gasol didn’t have the best scoring game (14 points) but he did have ten boards and three swats. He also helped move the ball around with 5 of the Lakers’ 25 assists. Ramon Sessions struggled but he had a decent line at 7-4-6. And Steve Blake had his third consecutive good game with 7 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals off the pine.
And, of course, Staples Center fans got tacos and the Laker fans on the internet got virtual tacos. Plus the Lakers clinched a playoff spot with the win so don’t panic about that!
Bynum continues to have his issues with double teams (his frustrations probably made him get lax on D in the first half). The Nuggets came back a few times when they started quintuple-teaming (relax… I could get hyperbolic) Bynum even before he receives the ball. Of course, when they stopped doing that, Bynum made them pay.
Andre Miller has a YMCA game that can never be beat. He had a 20-6-6 line. He’s virtually had the same game since he was in college and probably when he was 8 months old. It never ceases to amaze me. And Al Harrington always seems to do well against the Lakers. Al Harrington finished with 18 points and reminded everybody that turtles fight with honor.
The Spurs only had ONE offensive board in the previous game. Tonight? The Nuggets had EIGHTEEN (in overall rebounds, the Lakers still won, 45-40). The Lakers forgot to box out Manimal (Kenneth Faried) and Pierre (JaVale McGee). They combined for 11 offensive boards.
Also, I’d like to know the stats for most double-digit games blown in a season. I believe the Lakers lead in that department. They were up as many as 15 points. Oh, Lakers. You’re so Hollywood. You just have to keep making it dramatic. If I wanted drama, I’d go rewatch my Melrose Place DVDs.
Lastly, I was hoping JaVale McGee would do something moronic. He didn’t and he actually had a very good game (14 points off 7/9 shooting and 10 boards). Though his only misses on the field were critical tip-ins that were botched late in the game.
Turnovers were the story. The Lakers ended up with 22 giveaways. Gasol had six and Bynum had four. What was maddening was their post entry passes. If messing up a post entry pass was a crime, we’d have a bunch of Lakers in jail now.
Also, it’s amazing that the Nuggets had SIXTY-EIGHT points in the paint. 68 out of their 97. The Nuggets had 21 fastbreak points so even without those, that’s still a ridiculous amount of points in the paint. How about that vaunted frontcourt, eh, Lakers? Oh, well. It was a good thing that the Lakers didn’t get into a shootout/track meet with the Nuggets because that would’ve been disastrous.
The Play Of The Game:
I will go with the steal and the dunk by MWP in the first quarter. It really shows that he’s healthy, too. Keep doing that thang.
The Lakers are now 1 1/2 games ahead of the #4 Clippers. At this point, they’re probably not going to get any higher than the third seed. So they’ll have to keep playing their ball and continue to have momentum as the playoffs inch closer. They may not have Kobe again in their next game. But it’s probably a good thing as his teammates gain more confidence and Bean gets some much-needed rest.
The Lakers’ next game is against the Mavericks on a Sunday matinee. Great. We all know how the Lakers do on a Sunday afternoon. If it doesn’t rain, maybe you’re better off chillin’ in the park and waiting for the sun to go down along with your homies…
Have a great weekend. Even with this ridiculous wind going on in Southern California.