New Rule: Watch the backdoor lob.
The Nuggets, one of the trendy preseason picks to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference, come into Staples Center looking for a little revenge after a 1-2 start that includes a loss to the Lakers in dramatic fashion last Wednesday. This is also an important game for the Lakers because after it they leave on a four-game road trip that has some challenging games (Philadelphia, Minnesota and Memphis).
Denver will be back with George Karl on the bench this time around (his time in David Sternâ€™s penalty box is over). That should improve game management decisions on their end.
One thing the Lakers need to do this time around is watch the backdoor lob to Marcus Camby. I mention that again because no matter how many times Denver ran it the Lakers never seemed to catch on.
Denverâ€™s defensive adjustments from the first game should be interesting â€” last game Kobe was double and triple teamed and although he still got his points the Nuggets tried to make the other Lakers to beat them. Smush stepped up, as did Devean George and Brian Cook. Will Denver keep the same strategy or will Smush have a new friend hanging on his hip? (If that friend is Earl Boykins the Lakers need to post Smush up.)
By the way, if youâ€™re looking for more Smush talk, check out the latest from Mike over at the Show Time Laker blog, where he talks about what Smush brings to the triangle that the Lakers have lacked. (As a side note, you should start making that blog regular reading because Mike, also one of the moderators at Lakersground, has scouts-eye analytical skills and his stuff will be worth reading.)
Have I mentioned defending the backdoor lob yet? The Lakers need to try it.
It took about five minutes of the first game between these two to see how much the Nuggets missed Voshon Lenard last season â€” with the strong front line they have they need an outside shooter, so he was getting a number of good looks. However he has not fully regained his touch yet, shooting just 46.4% (eFG%) on the season, well below his career 49.5% average. and he is just 1 of 11 from three-point range (heâ€™s a career 38.6% shooter from beyond the arc).
The Lakers are going to need a defensive effort than we saw against Phoenix â€” especially because Denverâ€™s scoring is so balanced. In the last game against the Lakers they had six players in double digits but none over 20 points, in their win Friday at Portland it was the same thing save that Camby had 23. Also, the last game between these two had 101 possessions in regulation, a very quick pace, so the Lakers need to play better transition defense than the other night.
In the first game the Lakers held Denver to 47.5% eFG% and they need to be back at that level or better at Staples. It would help if Lamar Odom can step up on offense and make Carmelo Anthony work on the defensive end more, or better yet get him into some foul trouble.
One last thing: Defend the damn backdoor lob. Please.