Preview and Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Darius Soriano —  February 25, 2013

Records: Lakers 28-29 (9th in the West), Nuggets 35-22 (5th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.2 (8th in the NBA), Nuggets 106.7 (6th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.3 (T 15th in the NBA), Nuggets 102.7 (13th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, Dwight Howard
Nuggets: Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufus
Injuries: Lakers: Pau Gasol (out), Jordan Hill (out for the season); Nuggets: none

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have won 11 of their last 15 and Kobe Bryant is on a two game tear. Said another way, the Lakers look as good as they have all season and for the first time in what seems like all season, there’s legitimate hope that the level of play we’re seeing can be a new norm. No, Kobe won’t shoot over 60% for the rest of the season or make 75% of his shots in the 2nd half of games, but the effort, teamwork, and improved D are certainly sustainable.

What hasn’t been said enough, and is a big part of the team’s success, at least as I see it, is that Mike D’Antoni has settled in on a rotation and trusting the players to perform their roles. His substitution pattern has stabilized and guys have seemingly found a comfort level in the fact that they know when they’re going to play, how much action they can expect to see, and what they’re supposed to do when they’re on the floor. Guys like Meeks and Jamison no longer have to look over their shoulder and wonder if they’re going to be pulled (or, as it was earlier in the season, play at all) and it’s brought about a better consistency in their play and boost to the team. Steve Blake’s play has also been very solid as he’s provided stability and leadership from the point guard spot on the 2nd unit.

Of course, not everything is perfect. Issues with protecting the paint defensively and an over reliance on hitting outside jumpers can hurt the team for stretches in any given game. Not to mention the team (especially Nash, Kobe, and Howard) can still be turnover prone when they force the action too much or don’t recognize how the defense is shifting their approach. However, the team we see now seems to get it more than they have all season and that’s true of the coaches all the way down through every player on the team. Needless to say, it’s very good to see on a night to night basis.

The Nuggets Coming in: After a very hot stretch where they won 9 in a row, the Nuggets have only won 2 of their last 6 games. Though, to be fair, all 4 of those losses came on the road. This is an important distinction since the Nuggets remain one of the best home teams in the league, only losing 3 times in 25 games in the Mile High City.

The success of the Nuggets is pretty simple: they’re deep and they have a distinct identity that they play to every night regardless of opponent or circumstance. They have a regular 9 man rotation in which every single player sees at least 18 minutes of action and scores at least 8 points each night. This balance and depth means they can run out a variety of lineups who are all told (and expected to) attack for every second they’re on the floor to try to run the opponent out of the gym.

But while they have a lot of depth, it’s very clear who their best players are and who carries them. Iguodala, Lawson, Gallo, and Faried are their core four and all bring a clear set of skills to the table that help this team win games. They’re versatile, play hard, and understand their specific roles within the team concept. Credit George Karl for getting everyone to understand their roles and for getting the most out of them and their talented teammates.

Nuggets Blogs: Roundball Mining Company is an excellent resource for all your Nuggets news and notes.

Keys to game: With only three teams pulling off the feat, there’s really no formula for beating the Nuggets at home. Especially when you’re on the 2nd night of a back to back and playing a rested Nuggets team as the Lakers are.

So, forget the road/home variable for a second and focus strictly on three major keys it takes to beat the Nuggets on any given night:

  1. Control the tempo. The Nuggets play at the 2nd fastest pace in the league. They want to run and run and run, tire you out, and then sub in fresh players to run some more. Limiting their ability to do so creates problems for them. In 2 of their 3 losses at home, they were held below 90 possessions.
  2. Control the backboards. Denver loves to hit the offensive glass and feature three players who grab at least 2 OReb’s a game. Keeping them off your defensive backboards and making them have to work hard to secure misses on their own defensive glass can equate neutralize on of their biggest strengths but also help in keeping the pace of the game in your favor.
  3. Build a wall around the paint. Denver takes more shots at the rim than any other team in the league. They are not a team of shooters, they are a team of slashers and finishers. And while they have players who are capable of knocking down the deep jumper — Gallo, Lawson, Chandler, Iggy, and even Brewer (though mostly from the corners) — the goal is to make them rely on jumpers and not let them get points in the paint.

Considering these points of emphasis, how do the Lakers go about game planning to win the game? Here are three more keys:

  1. Offensive discipline. The Lakers must keep turnovers low. They must set good screens to get each other open and must make good, smart passes teammates that are both on time and on target. Steals will turn into baskets and the Lakers can’t afford to get into a trackmeet with this team. The goal should be to dictate the flow of the game through offensive execution. Post up Kobe even against Iguodala and see if George Karl will commit a second defender to him as he’s done over the years. Run the P&R with Dwight and Nash and force the defense to shift and rotate as Dwight dives to the rim. See if Koufus and McGee have the discipline  to contain Nash as he turns the corner while still trying to recover into their correct defensive rotation. The team can also run post ups for Dwight and see if he can find the rhythm he had against the Blazers (though, to be fair, against a much better front line than Portland’s). If he can establish the post, the help will come and that will open up the jumpers you want the team taking — open ones via inside-out basketball. Play smart on O and make the Nuggets defend full possessions.
  2. Everyone to the glass. I know I mentioned that the goal is to keep the Nuggets out of the paint but that’s simply not going to happen for an entire game. Ty Lawson, Iguodala, and Gallo are too good to allow themselves to be bottled up all night — especially against a defense that’s not been good at containing dribble penetration. So, when they do get into the paint, the Lakers’ bigs will have to rotate and that will mean others will have to help on the glass. The Lakers wings must get down the paint and help the helper by boxing out crashing big men. The guards (especially  those coming from the top of the key) must close down the FT line and not let long rebounds fall into the hands of the Nuggets. Everyone must do their part by finding a body, hitting him, and then attacking the glass. Faried and McGee will chase the ball for rebounds even if it’s not in their area. The Lakers must respond accordingly.
  3. Sprint back on D and know who you’re playing against. The Nuggets run for lay ups and dunks. Lawson and Andre Miller have no qualms about taking the ball coast to coast so you must stop the ball. They also will throw the ball ahead so tracking the players on the wings who are filling the lanes is also important. Corey Brewer is a player who will leak out and race the floor for an easy basket. When he’s in the game he must be tracked and ran with. Iguodala wants to aggressively fill the lane but is also adept at handling the ball in the middle of the break. He’s as dangerous off the ball as he is on it and must be tracked whenever a transition from offense to defense occurs. The big men (except Koufus) all run very well and must be bodied and bumped early in transition. Sprint back, get to the paint to build a wall, then find a man and make him back the ball out.

If the Lakers do these things, hit some jumpers along the way, and bring energy, they’ll be right in this game with a very good chance to win. It’s easier said than done, of course, with fatigue and the potential of last night’s win affecting their focus. But this is the task in front of them.

Where you can watch: 6:00pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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158 responses to Preview and Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. I’m sorry, but the way you describe Denver’s strengths make them seem like the “anti-Lakers”. Pretty much like the Heat on the Western Conference.

    The Great Wall Of Dwight will be key to stopping DEN’s offense in the paint, but rest assured they are going to make us miss Gasol when he subs out. I guess 10 TOs from the Lakers will do them in if it gets there.

    Crossing my fingers for a W.

  2. Thanks for the recap Darius great as always. I believe this game will provide us a real view of were the Lakers are right now, those last 3 wins were wins that are expected in my opinion all thise expected win games that the team lost during the season is what it got us on this mess. A back2back game on mile high against a really good amd rested Denver team is the test that this team needs right now. Im not really sold on this team recovery until we start beating teams like this on these adverse conditions. A bad loss here will bring back all those bad vibes that been lingering around all season and it would be back to square 1 with me. Really anxious about this one.

  3. to be at 500 with 25 games left by beating denver at home in the 2nd of a back2back…that would be a significant achievement and would do a lot to sustain the momentum.A loss doesn’t shut the door, but there’s more pressure to win in minny before heading to atl and okc. it’s going to be a lot of work to get the opportunity to play okc or the spurs in 1st round.

  4. Albert,
    The Heat are one of the best outside shooting teams in the league and aren’t necessarily strong on the glass. The Heat are also a star driven team with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh carrying the load more than a balanced attack like you find in Denver. Sure, both teams thrive in transition, but I’m not sure the Heat/Nuggets comparison is that strong or that the way I described the Nuggets describes the Heat very well at all.

  5. Kobe Alert: Wow – what a game. I am going to start by picking up on a cool stat that rr put in the recap, and the reaction by Harold. The stat that rr posted, was that Kobe was the oldest to ever record 38 points, while shooting at least 60%, in back to back games. Harold then stated he was amazed that KB was doing “oldest” accomplishments, when it was just yesterday he was doing “youngest” accomplishments. And yes it quite literally was yesterday – you see while Kobe became the oldest for the 38/60%/back to back trick, he also became the “youngest” to cross the 31,000 point mark ! To elaborate on the 38/60%/back to back stat: This accomplishment is actually more impressive than just the fact that Kobe was the oldest to do it. It was the first time that anyone had accomplished this at all since 2006, when LBJ did it.. Since Kobe entered the league in 1996, this feat has only been accomplished 11 times. Of those 11, five of them were by Lakers, and a total of 7 were by 1 time Lakers. The list: Shaq did this 3 times since 1996 (6 total), Kobe has done it twice (2003 and 2013), and the others who have done it once: LBJ, Wade, Iverson, Garnett, Rice and Antawn (he was obviously not glued to the pine when he did this). For those looking for something extra to track tonight, a streak of 3 straight such games was last achieved in 1993 by Karl Malone. Also against Dallas, KB became the 12th player to reach the 1600 level for 3 pointers. The 38 point game was Kobe’s 407th 30+ game of his Laker career. To put this into perspective, Paul Gasol, has 356 games played with the Lakers, and he is 2nd in that category on the current roster. KB is 392 points from Wilton.

  6. darius: just by looking at the schedule ahead, would be beneficial to win this game tonite vs the nuggets in denver with the next two days off before minnesota at home on thursday and another two days off before atlanta also at home on sunday. then of course back on the road for back to back with okc on tuesday and new orleans wednesday. sounds grueling but with the two days rest between games are key despite being a road and home and road again… experience should pay off here. except for that last week in march, seems the rest of the regular season is set up in a similar order to the playoffs; away, away, home, home; away, home.

    looking way, way ahead, is that houston to close the regular season? home sweet home.

    Go Lakers

  7. Darius:

    I agree that MDA (I will revert to Captain Pringles only during the game itself) deserves some serious credit after the blasting he’s had around here. I noticed why during these three post All-Star Games. I have to step back to the Phil years to make sense. During the PJ era, there was a certain “comfort” or “calm” that one would get watching the game from two things (1) the Triangle looks like the Triangle looks like the Triangle, and once you get used to it, everything else looks like pickup ball; and (2) Phil Jack was (sometimes to a fault) terribly consistent with his rotations. By his last few years, if you were a Laker fan that watched most games, you knew who was coming in when, almost to the second, and you knew what was going to happen two or three moves in advance, because you had seen the same offensive sets over and over again.

    This year with injuries, a new system, new players, new coach, yada yada yada—it’s been tough to develop a similar “comfort” as a viewer–I can only imagine what it was like for players. But over the last few games, as a viewer, I now am starting to “know” when so and so is coming in or out, and starting to “know” when certain things are going to happen based simply on player positioning—it’s becoming familiar–and I think that, in no small measure, is the reason for the better play at times…at least on offense–

    the defense, that’s a whole different story.

  8. They are all important at this point, but I think tonight is pretty close to a must win. Not only is a win important for the standings, but psychologically this would be huge. The last 3 wins were nice, but not exactly surprising; tonight would be impressive and meaningful, and would give this team a playoff mindset.

    A loss, however, would mean that depsite going 3-1 since the break, they would have made up no ground on the Rockets, leaving only 24 games to close the gap instead of the 28 that we started with. This team can’t tread water at this point in the season. I’m reasonably confident that the starters will do well, but I have visions of the bench getting run off the floor, with a Nugget layup drill whenever Dwight leaves the game.

    It’s hard to maintain playoff intensity for two months in the regular season, but at this point that’s what is needed….

  9. mindcrime: The 1999-2000 season had new coaching, a completely new offense, a bunch of immature players, yada yada as you say. How many games into the year did you “start to know” the rotations and the sets? Let me guess – I am thinking of a number less than 57 : )

  10. Mindcrime, make no mistake about it, he is still Captain Pringles, even in the pregame. All this success is due to one man in my view. Mr. Kobe “The Warrior” Bryant. He completely carried this team to victory the last few games. In order to win this game however, we need a big game from someone else besides Kobe. Lets hope that Howard shows up and means business tonight.

  11. For Kobe Alert!

  12. For Jerry!!!!!!

    Before the season started, before the season went to hell and the team’s myriad faultlines were shattered for all to see, many of us would’ve penciled this in as a ‘scheduled loss’ Keep that in mind when watching this game.

    The urgency will be there and the circumstances have changed, so yes we need this game. Badly. But it’s still the second night of a back-to-back in Denver. I want this game too, but if we fall short, let’s cool it with the hateful negativity over everything and anything about this team.

  13. Darius, I’ve requested this before and perhaps you’re simply not interested in the idea, but I would love to see a post dedicated to the Lakers defensive system/approach. I’m not trying to be facetious here, but I must say I really struggle to understand what the Lakers are trying to do defensively night in and night out. I absolutely accept the possibility – no, the likelihood – that there is a good answer that exceeds my limited understanding of the game, but watching night after night, I struggle to recognize patterns suggestive of a specific system. (There are some details – such as Kobe not playing free safety for several games in a row now – that are absolutely encouraging.)

    Anyway, just an idea. The posts – if that’s even the right name for what you and Philip provide – have been great lately, so it’s not like you need my help.


  14. If the Lakers make the post season festivities, they will have to win on the road in order to advance. Tonight is a good time to develop the confidence to win on the road.

  15. No Gallinari tonight, I guess Ron will have full of his hands on W.Chandler.

  16. I dont know if this is Good news that Galo is out cause his sub Brewer burned the Lakers with6 3’s the last ime we played them

  17. This is the game where we find out if Lakers are serious about going on a run and catching Houston. These are the games during the glory years Lakers would win. In 09 Lamar filled in for an injured Bynum at Cleveland when they hadn’t lost at home all year and we won. Let’s hope they duplicate that. I think they get this one tonight.

  18. kehntangibles: I love the “For Jerry” and I also agree that many comments are too negative. That said, in 2010-2011, which was a year that was considered a disaster, we went 12-3 on the second game of back to backs. As always I will be rooting for the Lakers like they were my kid, but if the kid brings home a test with a score under 50%, then that is an “F”. No blaming on the teacher or the dog ate my homework. I am old school so I don’t give scores of satisfactory or “Great Effort” . It is A through F, and if it is an “F” then someone needs to wear a Duntz Cap : )

  19. Robert:

    Coaches coach, but players play. Show me a great coach and I’ll show you a guy with great players—that 1999-2000 squad had

    C–Shaq (and at the height of his force of nature powers at that averaging nearly 30 per)
    PF–Rick Fox (one of the franchise’s great “glue” guys)
    SF–Glen Rice (a reliable–well for the most part–third scorer averaging 16 per and providing spacing)
    SG–Kobe (just starting his ascendancy, averaging nearly 23 per)
    PG–Ron Harper (the stat line doesn’t tell the story of his meaning to the team)

    Plus a bench of Fisher (the younger version), Horry (big shot), AC Green (the wiley vet), and Shaw (remember his big shots against POR in the 4th quarter of game seven of the WCF?) with George making some noise too

    On the offensive side of the ball, you can argue that the current team’s backcourt was pretty superior, but across the front line, and on the bench, there is no comparison. (Caveat—I’m relying on the fact that Pau hasn’t been very “available” this year on the offensive end because of injuries)

    On the “championship” end of the floor–an even greater chasm from a pure ability standpoint.

    This roster isn’t even close to that roster, irrespective of coaches.

    MDA could have done a better job this year, most likely, but this Laker team’s bigger problem (compared with that squad) is who is playing, not how they are being coached.

  20. Need IT!

    Want IT!

    Got to have IT?

  21. mindcrime: All True. I was not comparing the teams or the coaches. I was commenting on your post where you stated that the rotations were predictable, and the sets were consistent. In high school, I knew when my coach was going to pull me out of the game for a rest. I could set my watch by it : ) I knew where players were going to be on the floor and what we would run at the end of games etc.. For the record, my high school team did not have comparable talent to the 2000 Lakers – although we were pretty good. : )

  22. Joey Crawford. Fantastic. Thanks Stern.

  23. Robert–Point taken–although this year’s team has had much more injury upheaval than that one—that team didn’t face injuries to Shaq, Horry, and Fox (Howard, Pau, Hill) That might have complicated things.

  24. MWP scores and picks up a quick technical foul.

  25. I want this game too, but if we fall short, let’s cool it with the hateful negativity over everything and anything about this team.

    On this board during game night? I feel that we’ll have a better chance of Dwight hitting 20 free throws in a row or Nash dunking on a fast break than for your wish to come to fruition.

    With that being, tonight, lets get it.

  26. Let me join the chorus of people who are thrilled that Joey “Wanna Fight” Crawford is the ref.

  27. I think it should be fairly clear to all on both teams that this crew isn’t going to tolerate any garbage tonight.

  28. Cory Brewer can literally only play against the Lakers.

  29. D’Antoni has to utilize timeouts wisely. Game is at a fast pace early.

  30. Three ORB’s already for DEN—cannot survive a whole game of that

  31. Anyone else watching the Denver feed, if this 60 year old guy says ‘nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah…getting Iggy with it” one more time, I am muting.

  32. Why did I know that ref name was Joey Crawford?


  33. Pretty uppity ref crew given that they just missed what could have been the world’s most obvious goaltending call.

  34. D’Antoni can’t let this game get out of hand. A strategic timeout would do this team some good sometimes.

  35. Nugs are the worst team for the Lakers in NBA. Really fast, really athletic and real deep. Pity the team that gets them in playoffs.

  36. Don’t even know where to start here, Miller travelled and McGee was clearly out of bounds when he took that ‘pass’.

    Before T’ing up anyone, refs should at least be barely competent at their job.

  37. any links to the game fellas?

  38. Kobe is off tonight, and Howard isn’t really stepping up. Game over lol. No way they are winning tonight.

  39. Denver with 2 FGs outside of the paint and 26 points in the paint in the first quarter. Lakers need to do a better job protecting the paint.

  40. Not a good quarter for Kobo. 1 for 7 with 3 real TO. Might be tired tonight after Dallas. The guy is not a superman but pretty close at times.

    Might need some Morris or other young guys tonight. These guys are to fast and well coached.

  41. Try this site:

    As much as I like Faried’s energy how many times does he get away with jumping over everyone’s back? If D12 did that he gets a foul called every time.

  42. Kobe needs to be in fascilitaror mode tonight,the Nuggets are throwing everything at him.

  43. lakers other than Kobe.. 9-12 Kobe 1-7. kobe also has 2 of the 4 to’s in the first quarter…this is not a game when no one is hitting..its the opposite. just saying…not a kobe hater here.

  44. To say Jamison gave up on that play is an understatement. It is that type of ‘effort’ that got him benched for a slew of games.

  45. Well, Robert, Captain Pringles is making me eat my words so far. Not sure why we are seeing a reappearance of the No Nash No Kobe No Howard lineup.

  46. Looks like another massive momentun killing loss so far, everytime expectations go a little bit up there comes the crushing blow. Get it togheter damn it!!!!

  47. I remeber when Kobe used to tell Shaq “I got this”. Well, These are the games were Dwight needs to be 1b to Kobes 1a.

    Kobes clearly fatigued(understandably on a back to back) and these is Dwights time to prove to everyone that he is still a superstar.

  48. Kkudos for antwan for triying to play thru pain.

  49. Sweet Blake .. Sweet

  50. kudos for antwan for triying to play thru pain.

  51. Lakers get some momentum Karl calls a timeout with a 8 point lead. D’Anotni would’ve waited until the game was tied.

  52. Mcgee with some Venom jump LOL.

    Antawn running through pain.


  53. Blake has not played well since he was a possible trade but no taker.

  54. How to beat denver
    -dont turn the ball over
    -hang back and let them shoot jumpers
    -shoot good shots so there are no long rebounds

    How the Lakers play denver
    -bad cross court passes
    -pressure ball handlers with no back end help
    -long jumpers

  55. Blowout in progress, last 2 times the team face really good teams? Blowouts

  56. We have the trifecta of Lakers getting their butts kicked going:

    1. Bad Shooting
    2. Bad Defence
    3. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

  57. When Miller got subbed in, the game changed. He’s killing the Lakers.

  58. Our guards are in slow motion compared to them. Not even close. Fast breaking team and Metta Bricks is not a good formula for success.

    They may score 140 and Dwight may miss 25 FTs tonight. Long night dues,

  59. Anything 10 points or less going into the half is a win. Meanwhile D’Antoni is still playing right into Denver’s hands.

  60. Its amazing that they down by only 13 so far, make that 11

  61. Rusty Shackleford February 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I’d love to hear somebody try to give Steve Nash a free pass for tonight’s game so far. Age, injury, adjusting to new role or whatever – how can one justify the turnovers? Bad acquisition.

  62. Um why MDA is playing right into Denver’s hands? He is not the one with the stupid tos

  63. MDA is playing lineup roulette tonight.

  64. Nash dribbling into traffic is sad. That’s 6 times he has lost the ball. Someone needs talk to him,

  65. Nash is o l d.

    Lakers don’t have defensive clamps to tighten against this Denver team. The Nuggets strengths are exaggerated when they play against a Lakers team that is terrible on defensive transition.

  66. Nash is taking too many risks when passing out the P&R. Needs to show more discipline. That said, calling him a “bad acquisition” the day after he scored 20 and played fantastic is really really silly. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to keep perspective in a game thread. Jeez.

  67. Nash is killing us with turnovers on just extremely careless passes.

  68. I actually feel bad for Dwight tonight, which is saying something, he is playing hard on the defensive end and getting no help at all.

  69. Nuggets keep getting fast break points off Lakers PnR. D’Antoni keeps running it. It’s not too early to play the blame game. D’Antoni gets my vote so far.

  70. …and just as I say that Dwight makes no effort to cut off Lawson in the lane…sigh.

  71. Why do our centers always seem to get outplayed by McGee?

  72. I am not the biggest believer in +/-, but Steve Blake is -19 in 12 minutes….how is that even possible.

  73. Nash making me sick right now. DAMN!

    Dwight playing nice on the defensive end but one thing that hurts is offensive rebound on the weak side.

    This is why they will miss Pau.

  74. Another nice effort from Metta. 2 points. 3 in last two games.

    5 turnovers in one half for Nash. He is really OLD. He needs to rest. He looks 80 out there tonight with the ball.

    Mike D is living in 2008 with Nash. No way he can play back to back at his age. I dream of a coach like Pop who understands resting starters.

    2nd half could be ugly.

  75. I think Nash was a poor acquisition. Think about the Lakers biggest weaknesses over the last 3 years. They get murdered by quick point guards. It breaks down their whole defense.

    He makes them actually worse on defense then they were the past few years.

    Having Nash and Bryant as your starting guards, especially at their age, means that they will always have a major weakness defensively.

    Nash used to be able to run circles around the other team and be ahead of everybody. That changed the last few years in Phoenix. People started shifting their focus to how he is such a great shooter.

  76. This would be a good time to give Ebanks or Morris another go. Just need a couple more players out there to harass talentless hustle players like Brewer who we are making look like all stars.

  77. Im absolutely amazed that the Lakers are only behind by 13 after one of the saddest sorriest defensive efforts i witnessed in a long time, and i dont really want to talk about the turnoverfest we just endured. Terrible a terrific offensive flow and rythim gone to waste. Amazed this game is relatively in reach. Still hopeful we can turn it around sometime.

  78. Second night of a back to back and Denver is running down the Lakers throat. D’Antoni refuses to give his team a breather. Lakers are playing the type of style Denver wants and their getting in the open and D’Anotni refuses to adjust.

    James: Nash wasn’t a bad acquisition sometimes the coach needs to put him in positions to be successful. Having him run around screens all game on a back to back vs quick defenders isn’t a the recipe for success tonight.

  79. completely with you darius…nash will do that…but you can see how frustrated he is with the complete inability to get anything going with the PNR..Dwight looking really immobile on that tonight, and we saw how many TO’s there were just trying to post him as well.

    Having said that, they need to see what’s going on here. Nuggets getting almost nothing in the half court, everything is transition and an enormous number of put backs. They need to play like the anti-nash dantoni team tonight…slow it down, high risk plays/passes, and send mutltiple guys to the defensive boards…might be too late already.

    other observation…3 times as many posts when the team is losing, and the major reason for the losing is dantoni and Nash, of course.

  80. What is there to adjust? The team shoot over 60%, can MDA adjust Nash and Blake speed? Can he adjust the phletora of turnovers?All this had been self-inflicted not the coach fault.

  81. Rusty Shackleford February 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    1st 20 point game of the year for a guard who doesn’t play defense and makes $8 million dollars this year. Jamal Crawford doesn’t play defense either and he’s only making $5 mil. Only $1 million more than our also-overpaid backup point guard. What is he bringing to this team again?

    Somebody please tell me why everybody is giving him a free pass for his lack of care for offensive possessions. And if anyone says 2nd of a back-to-back I have two words – Smush Parker. BAD AQUISITION!!!

  82. @James

    Where are those teams who had fast PGs? OKCs Westbrook?! We barely beat them last year. Thanks to those careless turnovers, it would have been an upset.

    2011? Against the Mavs?! Jason Kidd is not Derrick Rose. 2009-2010?! Think about again.

    The Miami Heat?! Chalmers is no Westbrook, LBJ was the reason they’ve won.

    Think about again. Where are those teams with fast and athletic PGs?! They’ve won what?! FAME not RINGS.

  83. fern: slow the game down play inside out. Denver turned turnovers into fast break points in the 1st quarter off PnR. Nothing changed the second quarter. That’s not all the players fault.

    The game is still winnable unless D’Antoni refuses to run anything other than PnR.

  84. Putting things in perspective.

    Only 3 teams have beaten Denver this year at home. I wrote this one in the book with dark ink 2 months ago as a lose.

    Don’t blow out your team Mike. Rest in 4th if down by 15.

  85. For all the “points in the paint” discussion, that is the symptom of the two main problems– The stats for me are (1) Eleven TO’s for LA and (2) 9 ORB’s for DEN. The first problem (Nash’s main problem tonight) is caused by playing without the right pace; the second is caused by the guy Dwight helps not boxing out on Dwight’s man when he does help. Those really needed to be the “for the whole game” numbers, not “for the first half”

  86. Fern: I think Kevin is referring to the tempo of the game, how we play against the PnR, and how we use our own sets. Nash of all people – at times does seem like a fish out of water in our uniform. My own feeling: he never should have cut his hair. His old doo was bad – but this one is worse.

    And Darius – I thought it was a great pick up, however I am not liking the fact we have him through 15 at this point.

  87. We’re shooting the ball well from the field, but as long as we keep turning the ball over and/or allowing them breakouts, we have no chance. This is definitely the fastest transition team that I’ve seen all year. When Darius stated, in the preview, “run the opponent out of the gym”, that might have been an understatement.

  88. Ken, a quick thank you for the invitation last night. I was locked into other plans, but I do appreciate you thinking of me and am grateful for your generous offer.

    And now back to your regularly scheduled program….

  89. Kevin, the FO is getting what they hired, if it wasnt for the + 8 on tos the Lakers would be right there. That -19 in fast break points are a direct result of that. Obviously they camt run with this team but the offense is not the problem,is turnovers and defense.

  90. We need this game, I can’t stand Denver. Can we try a zone at least, something. Hell MAD zoned us in the playoffs 2010. We can’t continue to give up sooo many points in the paint so Damon easily.

  91. Kobe is now only 2 technicals away from being suspended.

  92. Fern: it’s a coach’s job to adjust game to game and within the game. Tonight is a bad night for d’antoni.

  93. Steve Nash is a defensive liability. He is their starting PG and plays over 30 minutes a game.

    Can you imagine him in a playoff series against Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, or Ty Lawson? It’ll be ugly.

    Until the Lakers address this major hole, they will be bad defensively.

    Steve Nash is whom a coach circles in his gameplan. Attack Nash. Wouldn’t you?

  94. Lil Pau

    Thanks. Wild party. fire dept there by 12 Was more crowded then Vanity Fair across the street. I live another day!

  95. Lakers getting outrebounded…foul trouble doesn’t help if Dwight can’t shoot fts.

  96. Kobe is exhausted. These are the games that you need to deploy the bench intermittently to add energy and give the starters some rest.

    Dwight is playing good defense but the Lakers are not helping the helper.

  97. Lakers shooting free throws like cavemen who never saw a ball before

  98. I understand that Kevin but most of the Lakers trouble tonight have been horrible defense and turnovers not MDA system and you can add 8-19 from the line and not even an hybrid of Auberbach and Phil could coach them out of that. I believe MDA has find some sort of balance but if the team is playing like crap…

  99. I don’t understand the lakers game plan. They should be pounding the ball in the post with Kobe and Dwight but instead settlin for outside jumpers

  100. What good are we long term when 80% of opponents just blow by our perimeter guys. They’re getting any shot they want, frustrating.

  101. exactly, TonyT

  102. Fern: true they’ve been bad across the board tonight. Thought they’d play better than this. Still a winnable game.

  103. Sone watching, i have enough..

  104. Underestimated Denver and overestimated Lakers will tonight. Games over..

  105. Rest the starters. 2nd night of back to back really hurts.

    Enjoy the regular season Denver, your team will be choking come playoffs LOL.

    Damn, why MDA replaced Antawn for Ron. Antawn is playing great right now. WTF!

  106. From 2004-2011, the Suns averaged 27th(last) in the league in their defensive rating.

  107. Nash needs to sit. He might end with 12 TOs tonight. He and Kobe are 3 steps behind. Iggy and Lawson might outscore Lakers alone.

    Mike really is clueless.

    Got to know when to fold ’em Mike.

  108. I’m probably just frustrated, but Denver is so annoying. 90% of these clowns only play well at home. I’m sorry, but a team that’s only lost 3 games at home but isn’t even a top 3 seed sucks, IMO. That tells me something. Sorry Denver, but you don’t get to play every game at home! I hope they get destroyed in the playoffs!

    Well that was my rant for the evening. So far, there hasn’t been much to cheer for in this game.

    Oh wait, we won the 3rd qtr by a point. There’s something to cheer about! 🙂

  109. its all mike, right….

    the Laker are shooting 56% from the field and have totally slowed the game down when they could. have totally stopped playing fast…so not seeing any of this having to do with Dantoni at all. they are not rebounding the ball well and made too many high risk plays in the first half leading to turn overs….pounding inside has been tough, and in any event they are scoring well…

    Big thing is they have an enormous advantage in speed, size and athleticism..don’t know how that is MDA’s fault.

  110. Not looking good, hopefully Utah looses

  111. I say i stop but i keep glued lol, still more amazed that despite all they are within striking distance, they are fighting got to respect that.

  112. Damn, that was a 3 second call on Koufos. This refs really sucks.

  113. If they keep it sorta close i believe we have one more run on us.

  114. Denver is not getting this game that easy!!!!!

  115. What a joke. Franchise Free-throw Player?

  116. Momentum killer: a block on antawn and then block on Howard. Game over?

  117. Who leads the NBA in Goal Tends?
    Who leads the NBA in missed FTs?
    Who leads the NBA in offensive fouls on screens?

    SUPERMAN the future of the Lakers!

  118. Dwight ft shooting is the main reason the Lakers are not on this game, we might need some hero ball tonight.

  119. Ugh Dwight going to the line.

  120. This is where I have problems with Dantoni’s coaching style. Second game of a back to back you have Deven Ebanks on your bench and you don’t use him. This is a problem. Earl Clark is worn out and so is D12. Since we did not pick anyone up why not use your bench.

  121. Poor Kobe. Doing everything he can to keep us in this game.

  122. 3 for 15 is that a NBA player? Dwight makes me want to hide my head in shame.

  123. The way Lakers can catch up is on defense. But Earl Clark is sitting in favor of Meeks.

  124. Even if the Lakers lose i like this game because everything was aligned for a blowout loss, despite all the crappy playing, the adversity, back2back and all that jazz they made a rested Nugget team work.This game was lost on the first half.

  125. Didn’t get to watch the entire game, but in the grand scheme of things this is a game that the Lakers should have lost anyway. Man…Howard is 3-14 from the free throw line.

  126. The play that epitomized the game was when the Nuggets saved a ball from going out of bounds right behind Dwight’s back and he was clueless as to what was happening around him because he had long since quit on the possession.

    Too many turnoveres. Too many layups and dunks allowed. Not boxing out. And make a freakin free throw.

  127. Mamba, you´re amazing

  128. Kobe is just done tonight,
    Nash is just done.

    8 man rotation in Denver on a back to back is the lowest IQ coaching I can ever remember. They play 10, Spurs play 11 etct etc.

    No wonder Suns never won anything under this coach,

  129. Tough loss. Lakers Match up badly with this team, especially @ Denver. Lakers can afford only 4 more losses for the entire season if they wanna get the 48 they need to even make it into the playoffs. And thats assuming its only 48. That means we need a record of 20-4 to finish the season. Doable?

  130. Ok is it morally correct to move to Celtic game in overtime & root for the big GREEN?!

  131. Friggin Nuggets and their fans acting like they just won the championship. All the Lakers need to beat them is a little more size to control the boards.

  132. Mods: Is this a player problem or coach’s problem? When Dwight (or every big) sits 5 feet off the screen giving the guard the jumper, a passing lane or blowing by the defender.

    This goes back as far as the Miami game at Staples. They never change coverages. At least Mike Brown was able to fix defensive problems in spurts. This coaching staff does nothing.

  133. I wish Mike Brown was still the coach.

  134. Denver with 78 points in the paint and 33 fast break points, both season highs for a Lakers opponent, pretty much sums up this game.

  135. And the bad news keeps on coming according to sports rewind twitter acct.
    @SportsRewind: Lakers: Pau Gasol likely out for the rest of regular season

  136. Kenny T,
    Exactly. Denver will always be the bridesmaid and never the bride. Keep making the playoffs and getting bounced, Denver. And keep treating every home game against us like it’s game 7 of the Finals. Ok, I might be a little bitter…

  137. Hate to say this but I am actually cheering for the Celtcs over Utah

  138. Oops my bad.

    Nugs played 6 bench guys 25 more minutes then lakers 3 bench players. ON A BACK TO BACK!

    I dare someone to defend Mike Mensa on that!

  139. The Lakers did not lose because the Nuggets were bigger they list because they played horribly and turned the ball over 12 times in the first half allowing The Nuggets to build a big lead, that and Howard going 3-14 from the line. UGH

  140. Mike Brown found a pace and style that fit the roster. Played to the strengths. D’Antoni wants to run around the perimeter, drive and kick to streaky shooters. He admits himself he has no offense it’s just find the open guy.

    The team looks unprepared too often.

  141. The Lakers did not lose because the Nuggets were bigger they lost because they played horribly on defense and turned the ball over 12 times in the first half allowing the Nuggets to build a big lead, that and Howard going 3-14 from the line. UGH

  142. Harvey, the fact that Mike D doesn’t put any priority on defense is his fault. When you come into a place like this, your number priority has to be defense. You can’t allow this team to score 119 points.

  143. Its just unbelievable how bad we are defensively. Like is the FO not seeing this? I mean my goodness, just listening to the game driving home and hearing us give up basket after basket down the stretch put me into a rage. 80 pts in the paint???…Really? We have been playing better but come on. We cant run our current guys into the ground.

  144. I totally agree Kevin we had a Chicago like pace which helped us out defensively. The offense was eventually going to work itself out. But can we get at least a defensive assistant, is MDA too good for that. Hell, Doc Rivers had Thibbs in Boston.

  145. Jazz lose, hope Rockets will also LOL

    Thursday against Minny must be a win and ATL too to get back at .500 before showdown against OKC. SMH!

  146. Joe M,

    lakers 15th in defensive efficiency…virtually identical to where they have been for the last few years. and with all these injuries…they are defending very well over the last 15, probably top 10 in defensive efficiency over the last 15 but would need to check..

    Also, just wanted to point out, check defensive officiency vs. offensive efficiency for correlation to success. look at the top 5 in both categories…..Miami, OKC 1, 2 in offensive efficiency and only top 10 in defensive. So this idea that defence wins and offence is for chumps is just no longer true.

    To me, the defensive issues are way exagerated, at least since the team has settled down a bit, and Howard has been a bit healthier. To me that was way more of a first half season story.

    this is an older slower team. They cannot be defensive killers, and are not built to be like a top 5 defensive team..right now they are defending well…even in this game, they played decent half court was all transition/run outs and offensive rebs. their offensive rythym came off of the run outs. at around the 18 minute mark or so, the entire nuggets rotation had at least one bucket…every guy..and that was from transition..which really is more an issue of spacing and how they played on the offensive side.

  147. IMHO, MDA really needs to put one more man in our bench rotation. Our lack of depth is bad enough as it is. Even somebody out of the D League–preferably with some NBA experience but under age 30–would help. We could use our injured player exception (via Jordan Hill).

    One bright spot: Utah just went down to the C’s 110-107 in OT.

  148. CDog, no. 20-4 is not possible for this team. There only hope is that Houston loses more than expected and they can steal the 8th seed with less than 48 wins. I think it is still possible because its not like Houston is all that good. Most of their success will depend on Hardin. We also play Houston last game of the regular season at home, which could mean a lot. My prediction, we will make it to 43 wins on the season, but not the playoffs.

  149. Perspective: Jarred Jack GSW sprained his ankle at the end of last season, and was unable to work out or play during the summer: Bear in mind that he did not have surgery he just rested to heal. At this point, he confessed that he is just getting his conditioning back to allow him to play his game.
    Dwight Howard had SURGERY on his back and was unable to work out or get in any conditioning to play the game. He takes far more physical pressure on the court than Jarred Jack does and has to protect the rim on defense. Conditioning is paramount in basketball at any level, but particularly in the NBA. Dwight is a huge chunk of the Lakers offense and 100% of their defense, thus he has a larger role than Jack. Howard is giving it all that he has in him at this juncture of his career. Conditioning alone will cure much of Howard’s on court problems. His summer regimen should include body restoration and healing, core strength, free throw shooting, defensive timing and offense.
    Earl Clark might have hit the wall for this season. The Lakers need to give Sacre 5 minutes a game while Dwight is out or pick up a good big man from Europe as a doubt that anyone in the NBDL can help the Lakers.
    Nash’s minutes need to be reduced going forward, somehow the Lakers have got to find a way to use the speed and athleticism of Morris or the offense of Duhon to shave minutes off Steve’s time.
    MWP has to start punishing players in the paint more often to get his jumper going.
    Good effort by the Lakers as a whole just too many turnovers and minutes to contend with the youth and altitude of the Nuggets.

  150. Lakers have fourth or 5th easiest scheds. coming home. The only guaranteed losses, if you check the sched was this one and they play in OKC, and maybe the game in Indiana will be tough. other games are against mostly mid tier teams. it is going to come down to how many times they can beat the lower end teams (sac., phoenix, NO) and how many times they can beat the mid tier teams on the road, like they did to Dallas on Sunday. Its those games that will decide it. 20-4 is more than they need, but 19-5 might be required. Most systems assume that Utah only gets to 43, so the computers are saying 44 does it, which is only 16-8. GSW may still be in play as well, as they have a chance to crater too.

    Also re Dantoni and rotations…been through this many times, so I am kind of immune.
    The starters are not playing crazy, crazy minutes..nash is still at around 33, same for DH, Pau when he was around and MWP. Kobe plays uber minutes at 38, but would be unhappy at 33 or less, so the minutes for extra rotation players would only come off the minutes of the lower end players. But as we can see, the 4-8 guys all are playing well, (perhaps MWP excepted) and at least some of that is because they know that once they are in the top 8 they will get 15 mins minimum, and don’t need to make sure they hit the first three or get the hook. So with everything there is a yin and yang. Are you so confident that a few mins for Ebanks, and Sacre (or Duhon, Morris) will be of such a huge benefit to this team, given the consistency you are starting to get from Meeks/Blake/Jamison and Earl?

  151. Hey Darius,

    Now that I think about it, you’re right about the Heat being a better outside shooting team with Ray Ray, Mike Miller, and Battier. Forgot about that. I didn’t explain it, but I meant the transition points and athleticism (O boards) that DEN has comparable to MIA. These teams leave little to no room for error on the Lakeshow’s part. Thanks for responding.

  152. harvey–

    As per Bask Ref. here are the Lakers DRTGs the last 4 years (points are per 100 poss).

    2010 4th/103.7
    2011 6th/104.3
    2012 13th/104.4
    2013 16th/106.3 (that does not count tonight).

    So, while I agree with you that there is at times too much negative focus on D’Antoni, the D is clearly worse. As I have said many times, adding Nash, Jamison and Meeks; combined with Kobe, Pau, and MWP slowing down, has badly compromised the D. Howard needed to be DPOY Howard for it to work, and he simply is not that guy right now. Having another coach here wouldn’t change any of that.

    That said, I have not seen much evidence that D’Antoni has done enough to try to deal with it tactically, and I have always thought that this team should have a longer rotation.

    As to the game, winning the second game of a b2b in Denver is as tough as any matchup in the NBA. OTOH, IMO the Lakers ultimately aren’t any better than the teams that they are trying to catch. Kobe needed to play on an historic level offensively for the team to get four-point wins against Portland and Dallas, neither of which will make the postseason.

    I pretty much agree with Joe M. As I said about three weeks ago, the Lakers’ metrics indicate that they are a slightly better than .500 team, and I think that is where they will end up: 42-45 wins, and 1-3 games out of the 8th spot.

  153. RR, yes I understand that in the championship years they were better defensively. but, and this is a big but, they had an admitedly bad start defensively, so my point is that this is a first half of the season story. right now, (last 16 games) they are playing ok defensively, probably top 10 efficiency (but as I said I would need to check) because they have moved up around 6-7 places since mid to late January, they would need to be playing that well to have moved up that much. Otherwise, I agree that having them elite defensively does not work unless you have DH circa 2010, which they don’t.. Point being Dantoni is no worse than neutral defensively.

    I don’t disagree with your analysis of how they are playing, but this is not a tough schedule coming up. Even a slight uptick in play and much “clutch-ness” could get them 16-19 wins out of 24. So I agree with the premise…not a great team yet, but think there is enough variance and the potential for hunger for them to get to the playoffs. And while yes, Kobe had historic games to get those last two wins, there were at least a few losses and some close ones lost on poorer Kobe shooting. So while he is having a very strong to outstanding year, he did have around an 8 game spurt where his shooting was quite bad, which cost a few games and need to be added to the mix of probabilities. So the real question is are they really the 11-5 team we have seen over the last 16, or are they a 28 and 30 team?

    I think the key will be injuries…can DH play as well or better than he is now, with no setbacks, and more or less the same for Nash? And can the role players sustain this? And its hard to game that. I don’t think there are huge chemistry issues anymore. I think they have a pretty clear idea of how they want to play, and a decent plan for achieving it, so its just about continuing to execute.

    I would expect at least some setbacks physically, so perhaps that is the straw that breaks the camels back. But if GSW, Houston or Utah happen to get key injuries that could counter balance. Right now, I still think playoffs are like a 40-45% chance.

  154. These are the games that the back of your bench helps you win. The Lakers don’t have that. To me this is pretty simple. The Lakers need another big to fill in the gaps that the losses of Gasol and Hill have created. Someone to battle on the boards and negate the offensive rebounds the Nuggets enjoyed. Right now the Lakers are a very small team. Big people have a physical advantage in the game of basketball. It’s that simple. Controlling the boards leads to the fast breaks and second chance points that the Nuggets feast upon. Dwight can’t win that battle alone.

    As to Nash’s turnovers, I see a very similar scenario with him as in regards to Gasol’s so-called softness. Steve is very dependent on how much contact the refs allow. Much like Pau. Tonight a lot of contact was allowed on Nash. And it was reflected in his turnovers.

    Denver is very much a home court team. They are good but not that good. Lakers can beat them, but they need another rebounder to do it. The battle of the boards is the key to this matchup.

  155. Very excellent article by Neil Payne in ESPN insider about the “disappointment” of the lakers. Saying, given age, health of the 4 superstars and poor quality of the bench, and the amount of reliance on that bench (they have actually slightly overachieved), the results are not that far off the mark. Conforms quite closely to what RR has been saying.

    Notes that for instance, this year and based on projections, the Bucks, Celts and Hawks (just to name a few) have been much bigger under achievers. Basic thesis is that there was a very big gap between expectations and reality, that the 60% of mins gotten from Nash/MWP/Gasol/Kobe/DH have produced results more or less as expected, though Dwight and Pau both underachieved and the underperformance seems to be coming from the bench that while actually playing slightly above expectations needed to play too many minutes (approximately 40% of the total minutes), and on the whole came into the season with an expectation of being no better than the bobcats on average.

    really good read.

  156. I don’t have Insider anymore, and Paine is a good writer, but I don’t entirely agree with him based on what Harvey said, with the caveat that if he said in October that the Lakers would win about 42-45 games, rather than 55-58, power to him.

    The 2013 Lakers were based on the premise that the four big stars would match their recent numbers. There was reason to believe, due to age and injuries, that they wouldn’t. There was also reason to believe, due to talent, that they would. Other than Kobe, they haven’t, and given the inherent problems with the bench and the defense, that is why they are where they are. But it wasn’t just Lakers fans and MSM guys who thought the Lakers would contend–it was also guys like Hollinger and Zach Lowe.

    Finally, Paine is a Boston fan, and if he sees the Celtics as massively underachieving, that fandom is showing. Boston’s basic metrics indicate that they are right where they should be, and that was true before Rondo went down. Boston just isn’t that good of a team, and while I don’t know what projections he means, I don’t think that many people ever thought that they were.