Record: 41-34, 3rd seed in the West (but should be the sixth)
Record last 10 games: 5-5
Offensive Rating: 103.3 (15th in the NBA)
Defensive Rating: 102.1 (12th in the NBA)
Getting the split: Two games against two playoff teams in two nights. The Laker playoff position is safe, but as tonight and tomorrow (in Phoenix) are the last two road games of the season a split would be nice. And, I think a win in Denver is the easier of the two.
Expect To Run: The Nuggets play at the second fastest pace in the league, a smart strategy for a team that plays at altitude. Sure, this version of the Nuggets crawls compared to the Doug Moe squads in the 80s (this year’s Nuggets still average 11 less possessions per game than the 85 squad), but only Phoenix is faster in today’s NBA. It helps that they are deep at point guard, although Boykins is out with a broken hand right now.
Lakers versus Nuggets: The Lakers are 2-0 against Denver this year, but those two games were the first and third of the season. Not sure we can read much into those contests.
Since then the Nuggets have made trades that brought them Ruben Patterson and Reggie Evans, both of whom filled holes in the Nuggets roster. Patterson not only can play defense â€” although last time Kobe went against him he was 11 of 19 from the floor â€” but also is shooting 54.6% in the last 10 games. Patterson, along with a relatively healthy Marcus Camby, make Denver a much better defensive team.
Heâ€™s No LeBron: But Carmelo Anthony has come into his own this year. Heâ€™s got a true shooting percentage of 56.4% and a PER of 22.01, both very good numbers. Heâ€™s also started to gain the reputation as a clutch shooter (he is shooting 41.7% in the last five minutes of close games, but he gets fouled on nearly 25% of his shots and hits 81% of his clutch free throws).
Slowing him, a big man who likes to go outside but is strong as well, is a challenge. One word of advice to whatever Laker ends up on him: When Melo gets the ball in the corner he wants to take it baseline, push him the other way.
Stopping Melo plus finding someone to keep Kenyon Martin in check will be hard with Mihm and Bynum out with injuries. Kwame, Cook, Turiaf and the rest are going to have to have a good defensive game to get the win.
Inside/Outside: While Anthony has been playing better, of late Andre Miller also has given the Nuggets good play. His shooting hasnâ€™t been great, just 47.7% (eFG%), still good enough to score 15.2 per game, but heâ€™s also been dishing out 8.5 assists per game. Smush needs to not let Miller penetrate in the half-court and pressure him full court after a Laker miss to slow the break.
If the Lakers fall behind early: Donâ€™t worry, the Nuggets blew a 22-point lead, 20 at halftime, to the Clippers the other night. How do you score 77 points in the first half and lose?
John R says
“How do you score 77 points in the first half and lose?”
An understandable question from a fan of a team whose coach DOESN’T MAKE ADJUSTMENTS AT HALFTIME.
Lakers get the two-pack the Clippers just dominated. Phil has the blueprints, now build the house.
DJ not damon jones says
why!!!? they just lost. this close to winning…so lame..
John R says
Lakers fans… feeling you! The genius, the infallible, the perfect, the christ-like wasted 46 Kobe (my back hurts for some reason) minutes in a ultimately meaningless loss.
Calling a play for Luke Walton to shoot a falling away and to the side 3 pointer to win is also brilliant.
Don’t dare question him. Oh no. He’s perfect. He’s never made a bad decision in his life.
kwame a. says
I hate when the Lakers lose, it hurts there chances at securing a playoff spot, it hurts their momentum, it hurts their fans, but most importantly it gives John R. impunity to comment on our teams shortcomings, this one stings that much more, ouch.
John R., that play was obviously not drawn up for Luke.
Think they still had another timeout. Should have used it.
Too many forced shots, gave up too many 2nd shots, and too many points in the 1st qtr. Great comeback, Kobe still has room to improve to take this team to do damage in the playoffs. All points and one assist is not going to do it. Getting outrebounded cost them the game.
bah, timeout shimeout. i didn’t want to sit through another damn one of those.
i was pleased that for once someone other than kobe got to chuck it at the end. just for variety’s sake.
patterson was definitely a kobe stopper on that play, at least.
chris henderson says
shouldn’t have gone into OT, I couldn’t believe Lamar’s last shot as time was running out…he lets the clock run down and pops an outside jumper, with single coverage!??!?@#*%!? WTF was he thinking?
one on one, he’s gat a great first step, drive across the lane, the left handed layup or dunk we’ve seen all year??? worst case, he’s fouled and we get 2 from the line, arrrghh…friggin’ frustratin’.
8 – That is a good point. Also, if Lamar was going to settle for the jumper, why would he wait until the game clock was closing in on 24 seconds? If he puts up that same shot with around 28 seconds left he would have given the Lakers a better 2 for 1 opportunity. I guess it is a moot point since Kobe had a decent shot (with .6s) left to end regulation.
My second gripe is this. At the end of OT, the Lakers had 3.8s to get a shot off. I think that would have been an acceptable situation to force the inbound pass to Kobe. With 3.8s, Kobe could have received the ball near the half court line and penetrated to at least the free throw line for a shot. 3.8 seconds is plenty of time for Kobe to free himself for a beautiful look. That’s what I wanted to see.
Now, I agree with those who say that others have to step up a take the last second shot. But last nights example left behind a sour taste, and I don’t know if I feel better or worse knowing that Luke had a great look.