From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN LA: Those who have been waiting to see what Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s high-octane offense looks like finally saw it Monday night. Too bad it was the Denver Nuggets playing it. All that great spacing and shooting and scoring D’Antoni’s teams have become known for over the years … yeah, that was George Karl’s Nuggets running the Lakers off the court in a 119-108 win Monday night.”They’re good,” D’Antoni said. “They spread you out and they shoot a high percentage. “We just couldn’t catch ’em.”D’Antoni was glum after the loss, but not unusually so. That wistful, pining, ”If they could only see what I see?” quality he carried around with him during the first few months of his tenure on the Lakers bench is gone now. He’s either squashed it for good or put it in a place where it doesn’t bother him as much.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Big picture, the Lakers have still gone 11-5 since the day of their clear-the-air team meeting in Memphis. But the feel-good sentiments were contrasted Monday night by some ongoing cold – or should that be “old”? – realities for this Lakers team. The Lakers were as slow as ever in letting the Denver Nuggets blow by them. Final score: Denver 119, Los Angeles 108. Fast-break points? Denver 33, Los Angeles 3. “Man,” Kobe Bryant said, “that’s a killer.” The Lakers are last in the NBA in points allowed per game off turnovers, and that’s just how Denver took control of this game – also running off Bryant’s early missed shots. The Nuggets kept control with Dwight Howard shooting 3-for-14 on free throws and Bryant’s individual defensive effort lacking even as he rediscovered his shooting stroke.
From Actuarially Sound, Silver Screen & Roll: Three days ago Kobe Bryant told Sports Illustrated: “It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will, And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone.” Kobe Bryant’s other-wordly competitiveness never allows him to admit defeat until defeat is certain. You see, Kobe Bryant has conquered so many seemingly insurmountable obstacles that he views every challenge, no matter how long the odds, as still being possible. It is this supreme confidence in his ability to win and his strong desire not to lose that allows him to make such bold predictions that he himself truly believes in, even when no one else does. It was only two seasons ago that the Lakers found themselves down 3-0 to Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs and in the post-game interviews Kobe provided the following insight into his mentality: “I don’t know, I might be sick in the head or crazy or thrown off or something like that because I still think we’re going to win this series.” The fat lady had yet to sing and Kobe felt absolute confidence, bordering on self-admitted insanity, that he could permanently shut the fat lady up like he has every critic who ever doubted his ability. We all know what happened, though. The Lakers went on to lose the next game by 36 points. Series lost. Season over.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: It’s been awhile since Dwight Howard’s free-throw shooting became a headline. It happened Monday. He made three of 14 from the line in the Lakers’ 119-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets, a woeful 21%. He actually made his first two, so you can imagine what happened from there. Everyone knows Howard will never win any free-throw contests. The carnival workers won’t be handing out any stuffed animals when he steps up to the basketball booth and opens his wallet. But three for 14 tied his worst of the season when he’s had more than 10 attempts. He was also three for 14 in the season opener against Dallas. “I can’t get down on myself,” Howard said. “For the most part, the same form and everything was straight. Some were just long. I’ve just got to continue to practice and they’ll start falling. But I’m not going to get discouraged. I’m going to beat this.” The Lakers made only 14 of 31 as a team (45%).
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Kobe Bryant was right, the league has rescinded Kobe’s technical from Monday night. Kobe was complaining about not getting a call (shocking!) right at the end of the half on a half-court heave. You don’t get that call unless someone goes Jadeveon Clowney in tackling the shooter. But it wasn’t the ref Kobe was talking to that made the call, it was Joey Crawford running in from the other side. In a very Joey Crawford way. The league understands so they rescinded the tech. That leaves Kobe at 13, still just three off being suspended for a game.