Records: Lakers 55-20 (2nd in West), Nuggets 46-29 (5th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.9 (2nd in NBA), Nuggets 112.4 (1st in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.3 (6th in NBA), Nuggets 107.4 (17th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Nuggets: Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Kenyon Martin, Nene Hilario
Injuries: Lakers: Devin Ebanks (out); Nuggets: none
The Lakers Coming in: As unbelievable as it sounds, the Lakers now control their own destiny in the chase for the top seed in the Western Conference. They trail the Spurs by a game and a half but are only one game back in the loss column, and with a game against the Spurs still on the schedule the Lakers only have to continue to win and the top seed would be theirs. For a season that’s been as up and down (and now back up) as this one, it’s pretty amazing that this team is where it is. While I always had confidence that this team could play to this level, I’d be lying if I said that I saw a streak of 17 wins in 18 tries on the heels of where this team was going into the all-star break.
Whether or not the Lakers catch the Spurs really isn’t a concern for me, however. Yes, I’d like it to happen (even more, I’d like for the Lakers to finish with a better record than any Eastern Conference team, but that’s a story for another day). But, what this streak has reinforced to me is that when the Lakers play their best ball it will be difficult for any team to beat them. So, 1st or 2nd seed I’m just happy this team has found its stride. That, to me, is worth more than any potential seed earned…that level of play could be worth another championship. And isn’t that what we’re really after?
The Nuggets Coming in: The year long soap opera surrounding Carmelo Anthony’s future is now over for this team. And with that weight lifted off their shoulders, this team has responded with fantastic play that’s focused on teamwork. Gone is the high usage superstar that is the focus of every game plan and instead the Nuggs employ a group of versatile players that play together, share the ball, and work hard on both ends of the floor. And the results speak for themselves.
By replacing ‘Melo with three above average rotation players in Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari the Nuggets have become a deeper team that’s winning more games and playing better defense. Just look at the numbers: they’ve won 14 of 18 games and have reeled of 5 straight wins. They’re still leading the league in scoring. They’ve been able to play the same style that they did with ‘Melo on board, but do it even better than before because they’ve got more players that can handle the ball, run the floor, and create shots for themselves. Plus, since the players acquired for Melo came from an offensive system that played just as fast as the Nuggets but was instead predicated on sharing and moving the ball on to the open man (rather than an iso heavy attack), the Nuggets offensive efficiency hasn’t taken a hit while also featuring the strengths of all their players. Essentially, they play just as fast and efficiently but do so with more players being threats on any given play and that’s meant a more diverse attack that’s even more difficult to defend.
Whether or not this is sustainable through the playoffs or into next season remains to be seen. But right now, this group is playing some of the best basketball in the league. And considering that the Knicks (and Carmelo) are not, that has to feel good for the Nuggets and their fans.
Nuggets Blogs: Jeremy at Roundball Mining Company runs a great site and you should venture over and check it out.
Keys to game: As mentioned earlier, the Nuggets may not have that one player that strikes fear into a defense, but they have a group of versatile scorers that play a style that’s difficult to match up with. Denver plays fast, they play physically, and they’re not intimidated by anyone. If the Lakers are to win this game, they’ll have to effectively counter these strengths by slowing the tempo down and turning the game into a deliberate, methodical contest.
Offensively, that means running the Triangle in all its glory. The ball must go inside and the players off the ball must screen and cut with purpose. Gasol has a match up advantage over Kenyon Martin in height and length. The big Spaniard should get plenty of touches both in the hub of the Triangle and on the weak side low block and elbow where he can go to work on Martin. Yes, Martin will try to push Pau around and play him physically. But, this will be nothing new for Gasol and he should be up for the challenge.
Besides Gasol, the other Lakers will have to do their part in running the offense too. Kobe has a tough match up in Afflalo, but can still work effectively on offense by playing off the ball and using screens and hand off sequences to get up his shots. Afflalo is a rangy defender that does well defending players in isolation and in the post, but if Kobe can come off curls into the paint and use screens to slash into the gaps of the Nuggets’ D, he should be able to get good looks. Kobe can also use the P&R to create offense but I’d much rather he receive screens from the player being guarded by Martin (or Chris Andersen) rather than attacking Nene with this action. As we’ve seen over the years, Nene is one of the better big men at hedging and containing perimeter threats off the P&R and Kobe would be best served attacking a big man that isn’t as good at poking the ball away on switches and contesting jumpers when hedging out. (As an aside, I think it will also be interesting to see if George Karl sticks with his same strategy of showing Kobe a second defender when he’s in the low post or at the elbow. In the past, Karl has often sent double teams – both soft and hard – at Kobe when he’s in these strategic positions and time after time Kobe has burned this D by making the correct read. I’ll be watching this closely because if Karl sticks with this strategy, I think Kobe will make him pay.)
The two other players I’ll be watching closely on offense are Artest and Bynum. During the Lakers’ streak both have been strong contributors on O – Bynum with his offensive rebounding and post play and Artest with his jumper and finishes off good cuts. Both should get opportunities to continue their strong play against Nene and Gallo respectively as Kobe and Gasol garner a lot of attention from the Nuggets’ team defensive scheme. We’ll see Drew/Ron can make them pay.
Defensively, the Lakers success will surely come down to being able to slow the Nuggets’ transition game and by making them jump shooters. There may not be a quicker point guard duo than Denvers’ combo of Lawson and Felton so the Lakers will need to be extra aware of getting back in transition and denying penetration by building a wall. The Lakers’ bigs will be instrumental in this effort so they’ll need to sprint back once Denver has secured the defensive rebound so that Lawson and Felton can’t feast in the lane against a D that isn’t set.
As for forcing Denver to shoot jumpers, I should clarify that I’d really like to see the Nuggs taking long two pointers or mid-range J’s. Denver boasts multiple players that are very comfortable spotting up behind the three point arc so the Lakers must be cognizant of shooters and rotate to them aggressively to chase them off the line. Lawson, Felton, Chandler, Gallo, Harrington, and JR Smith are all threats from deep but will not be as successful when having to take a step in and shoot that 18-20 footer. The Lakers wings (as well as Pau and LO) will need to mark these guys and not give up too many free looks from distance.
LA’s P&R defense will also be tested and I’m interested in seeing if the Lakers’ scheme holds up against guards that are as fearless as Denver’s. Lawson, Felton, and Smith are all very aggressive coming off the high screen and all look to get into the paint off the bounce. Bynum, Gasol, and Odom will need to effectively keep these guys in front of them and challenge any shot that goes up when they turn the corner and attack. Smith and Lawson are especially dangerous in this scenario so whenever they get into the paint (and they will) the big man defending the back line will need to be ready to step up and make that a more difficult shot to knock down.
In the end, Denver may not have that singular threat but the fact that they’re playing so well as a team make them extremely dangerous. I also don’t discount the bad blood that’s existed between these teams to give this game a bit more meaning on their side. Plus, since both sides effectively play a 9 man rotation, there should be lots of action between the benches where one side’s reserves could end up playing a crucial role in who wins this game. Out of all the contests that the Lakers have played of late, this team may present the biggest challenge just because they offer the most variety and come in with the most confidence. It should be a good one.
Where you can watch: 12:30pm start time on ABC. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.
Arne Maes says
19 out of 20 here we come
Renato Afonso says
Ty Lawson and Ray Felton will spell trouble for our guards, but since we’re having success at funnelling those quick guards towards our bigs. Otherwise, I would be really worried.
One other thing that can’t happen is letting those shooters catch fire, which means that Kobe and the rest of the wing players will have to really close-out on them.
On the other hand, this may be Karl’s best coaching job so far and the game will be close, even with our size advantage. Looking forward to see this game.
BTW, is it a pipe dream to see Afflalo playing for us one day?
2, if by one day, you mean when he’s 34 and breaking down a la Raja Bell, then no, I don’t think it’s a pipe dream. Right now when he’s in his prime on a cheap contract? No way.
I have been super impressed with Afflalo the last couple of years. I wasn’t sure how good he would be coming out of college. Figured he had NBA skills but wasn’t sure about his ability to fit in as a role player. He’s really developed his game and has a great attitude.
Looking forward to this game to see how the matchups develop. Denver is I think a bigger threat to upset someone in the playoffs than Memphis.
Craig W. says
I posit that Afflalo is on his way to becoming something more than a role player. The way he has continued to evolve his game over the last three years means he is probably going to continue. IMO, he will be in the echelon at the edge of all-star shortly. He is becoming that consistent. Now all he needs is exposure and the playoffs might give him that.
@ #5, Craig W.
I can see that. My main concern about him coming out of college was if he could succeed without being the focus. He didn’t have elite level skills for that to happen in NBA but all through college, he was “The Man”. To survive in the league, he had to do all the dirty work, a lot of star college players can’t make that transition properly and thrive. He did much to his credit.
His biggest challenge right now IMO to reach the next level is to develop better ball handling skills. For now, he’s still in that Bruce Bowen type mold as a great defender and 3 point spot up shooter. His shooting has been ridiculous this year. I also love how smart he is defensively. Great combination of using his physical tools and forcing opponent away from favorite spots. It will be interesting to watch his progress the next few years.
When he left Det, I actually thought he’d be a decent target for Lakers. That was before the whole Ariza/Artest situation. Thought he’d make a good addition to the bench. Didn’t expect him to grow so quickly to where he is now.
Is there a more overrated team in the NBA right now? This Denver squad has beaten some pretty bad clubs on this above average streak. They are going to get killed today like they did in Miami.
The Lakers, to this point, have done pretty poorly (comparatively) on Sunday games… Not sure why, but they have gone 9-6 this season so far, and the only two of those wins are against contenders: The Robber Barons on February 27, and the Spurs on March 6.
I hope for the best, but this smacks of a let down.
On the other hand, as I have said a zillion times, the Lakers are the only team that can beat the Lakers. If they come out aggressive, focused, and with a mind to put the Nuggets away early, this game would be an excellent statement.
(By the way, it is pretty amazing to be a fan of a team where 9-6 is a disappointing record…)
Chris D says
Let me add to the chorus on Afflalo. On the right team with the right coach, structure and role, Afflalo is easily a 16-5-3 guy, enough to make him a perennial 6th Man-of-the- Year candidate. But more than any proverbial assortment of statistics are the little things he does. He’s a pretty solid perimeter defender, is hella dangerous in the passing lanes and while i’m not necessarily ready to declare him the heir apparent to Michael Cooper, he’s a tough matchup for the best wings. a guy like him will fit in the Lakers’ system pretty easily. if only denver would budge :p
On O, he’s a much more intelligent shooter than you think. He can come off curls pretty effectively and pick his sweet spots. He’s also a very good rifleman. Since he’s come to Denver, he’s improved offensively under a more autonomous Karl offensive scheme; in fact, i think he’s shooting 40% from downtown and 80% from the line for his career. Those are pretty decent numbers for a role player.
while i dont think he’ll be a multiple time all star, he’s the closest thing to Lamar Odom in the rest of the league i.e. a guy who comes off the bench that can do everything perhaps not exceptionally, but excellently.
Craig W. says
Laker fans – absolutely the most spoiled fans in the world of sports.
Somehow I feel we arent going to gain a game on the Spurs lol. Man the Suns really suck
Bynum is showing his presence and power early in the game, good to see.
For everyone who likes to smile:
GINOBILI! (Charles Barkley voice)
This game is an eyesore right now.
Is Mark Jackson trying to say that he is comparable to Magic?
Since when is Andrew Bynum the only guy on our team that the other teams cares to double team?
The Dude Abides says
For everyone wondering about the sloppy play, this is the Lakers’ third game in less than four days due to the early afternoon start.
Late to the party, but I’ll jump in on the lovefest for Afflalo. He would have been the perfect 2 for a team like Chicago (or many teams, for that matter). But while his game has evolved, I don’t know if I see All-Star in his future. Agree with chownoir – his ball-handling is the main impediment to that. He’d either have to sharpen his handle, or else learn to move without hte ball like Rip Hamilton. But I see him being a high-level role player.
Shannon Brown is like Kobe-Lite-with-Brain-Farts. Worst closeouts ever.
Going in, this felt a bit like a trap game. I believe we’ll win, but Denver’s cohesiveness and their speedy PGs will give us trouble. But definitely did not see us getting beat on the boards like this.
Lawson plays well against the lakers every time. he’s got more boards than pau and odom combined
Thx for the links!
After the George Karl technical, the referees have basically ignored everyone semi-mugging Kobe.
How has artest been doing on gallinari? I just turned the game on and saw Ron foul gallo and the box score has gallinari as the top scorer
Who is this other Aaron asking for a link? He should be forced to change his name. I’m the only Aaron on this site.
The Dude Abides says
@24. The Leon Wood crew always gives the Lakers problems.
I thought Aaron saying thanks seemed a bit out of character.
You’re damn right. I want this other Aaron found, bound, gagged, tortured, and forced to hate Derek Fisher. Only then can he go by “Aaron” on this site. That’s the mental anguish it takes to be me.
– The real Aaron
PS. The Lakers are playing defense. The best defense I’ve ever seen a Laker team play
The Dude Abides says
@25. Gallo has been getting out on the break a lot
Seems like a good time as any to try the LO-Gasol-Bynum frontline. Artest is underestimating Gallinari’s quickness and his length is bothering Artest.
The Dude Abides says
Ugh…Pau better be ok
Oh my god NO.
Gasol took a hard foul, please be OK
The Dude Abides says
Looks like he’s ok, but crossing my fingers.
Oh good. Looks like Pau is alright
Shut it down!!! The team is dead and the crowd is dead!!! We need the rest not first place!!!
Dammit missed the foul. How’d Pau get hit?
Good news – looks like Tex is finally entering the HOF.
Lo’s versatility is just great. Thanks for clearing up the Aaron confusion in my head, the other one is out of character for sure. Gallinari is a real pain today for sure.
Gasol went to the locker room, hopefully he will return
He is back on the bench and back in the game
Snoops – hyperextension of his left knee on the landing, I believe. (forgot if it was left or right)
He’s back on the bench.
Gasol is back on the court now. The crowd just gave him the biggest cheer of the afternoon so far.
I chalk this game up as a loss. They acknowledged the streak big time yesterday. That is always bad plus it’s a Sunday early game and we seem to always lose them. Jump on me if you want. It’s just the way I see it.
Fisher has had a great year and should of course remain our number one guard. However this is the worst a starting PG has ever looked in the NBA ever. He doesn’t look like a professional. Lawson went by him once one on one in this third quarter where it didn’t even look like Derek was trying to guard him. I hopenDerek isn’t hurt or anything.
Here is link to Gasol’s hard foul http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22-0PSXTKUo
Phew that replay looked bad. That’s my biggest fear. Wish we could skip the rest of the regular season and just start already.
I really wish they had a separate R-rated NBA channel where they’d mic the players and we could hear what they really say to each other on the court. Would have loved to hear that convo between Kobe and Smith.
I don’t mind the Spurs winning. Like Darius, I’m watching the Eastern Conf leaders more closely. I don’t think Chicago will make it out of the East this year, but I’d still like the HCA just in case.
That’s not to say I want to avoid the Thunder. Perkins was always one of the Celtics I hated the most and after his recent comments, I would love to see Bynum annihilate Perkins.
Turnovers and fouling. Everything that we don’t usually do. Plus we lost the 3rd quarter. When was the last time we did that?
Apparently, nobody told the team that the game started at 12:30 today, as is the norm for early Sunday games at home. It makes no sense to me. Let’s hope they at least wake up for one qtr and pull out a W.
The crowd is absolutly awful. It gives the team no energy to feed off of.
I’m wondering, since when have the players been so polite to each other during Lakers-Nuggets games? Helping each other up, almost apologizing for hard fouls…
Granted, their roster has changed quite a bit. But Nene is there, Kenyon Martin is there, J.R. Smith is there, the teams is a potential playoff threat – where’s the attitude?
And on top of the crowd, these refs are the worst I’ve ever seen…
I love what Blake’s been doing lately, but he telegraphs his passes too often. And they rarely have a lot of zip on them, making them easy steals. But his oops in transition are a beauty.
Shannon is holding the ball too long trying to gun himself back into playing well instead of letting the offense come to him
Always amazes me how Bynum never gets the ball. He has to start getting on his teammates. This has to stop in the playoffs. Bynum and Gasol need the ball A LOT MORE.
I hope phil puts Kobe back in between the 7 and 8 minute mark. Because Brown has been terrible on both ends of the floor. He’s dribbling too much on the offensive end and not playing a lick of defense. Wait he needs to put all the starters in.
defense by blake and brown particulary bad
These days when Kobe makes a tough basket in the late 4th quarter, I get more scared, because it usually means he’s going to try to go into hero mode and take progressively harder shots. Anyone else feel that way, or am I a bad fan?
I think the Lakers did not expect to see Denver give them that kind of defense today. They started out cold and have just not been able to get into any kind of grove at all. This is going to be a hard one to win
This loss is on phil. The lakers don’t play well when he goes to weird line ups. They just don’t. They didn’t play all that well with Bryant, Fish and Blake. They obviously aren’t with Artest and Barnes. Bynum must be hurt. This is a very winnable game. But the lakers score and then just give up 7 straight points.
Our interior defense sucks when Drew is out. I do not like this small lineup.
Gonna be hard to pull this out, they’re the aggressor right now on both ends.
Edit – I didn’t see Drew tweak his knee. Never mind. I’d rather keep him out and lose this game. Take no chances with Drew’s knees.
The writing was on the wall.
Interesting that neither Odom nor Bynum is on the court at this time. Phil’s letting the Nuggets dictate the matchups, going small.
have to give credit to the nuggets.
Well. Phil Jackson will take credit for this loss. No Bynum to end the game? Why do you think we can’t get a rebound or get a stop? We can’t play defense without Andrew.
Oh great Bynum is hurt. That’s why.
The Dude Abides says
I’m sure that one of our worst five-man lineups this season is when Ron-Ron is playing PF. Not sure why Phil didn’t bring back big Drew after LO picked up his fifth.
Edit – not just my impression, I think I’ve seen the stats
why are they experimenting with a small lineup late in the 4th of a tight game?
The perimeter defense has been a nightmare this quarter. Easy drives to the hoop, wide open 3s, and whatever else Denver wants.
Lakers are just so careless right now. I understand we are going to play well every game, but the careless play pisses me off.
Pau has not been the same since he left the game with that knee injury. No aggression at all.
lack of focus and energy tonight, ill put that down to the early start
The Dude Abides says
Oh, that’s why…crap 🙁
If Bynum is ‘fine’ then why is he on the bench?
If bynum was okay, he should be in the damn game.
The Dude Abides says
Artest shoved Gallo, but there were some shooting fouls on DEN that weren’t called in that sequence.
Need a miracle!
now the crowd turns up…
The Dude Abides says
Joel, I’m guessing that Drew is not really okay.
To the other Joel,
I guess we think alike
James, I agree. But that’s a pathetic excuse for the team. If I’m not mistaken, the game started at the same time for Denver as well…
I don’t care if Pau has 4 turnovers…get the ball to Pau.
the lakers played at their pace, but to win at this pace you need to limit turnovers and free throws. bottom line, denver was just more efficient.
Drew was hurt and Odom has 5 fouls. Those issues dictated Phil’s decision.
how on earth has lamar become our best 3 point shooter??
There goes our championship. That’s why it wouldbe nice to have a back up Center. Gasol is not a Center. We can’t play d or rebound.
Haha. And then we can’t geta rebound on the missed freethrow.
wow. that was disheartening.
why cant kobe shoot threes anymore?
Great. So this means we get a tougher first round opponent (Memphis) for an easier second round one (Dallas). d-.-b
Because he has no knees or fingers.
Can’t wait for all of the “ho hum no big deal, just one loss, losing is fantastic” comments.
Losing always sucks, but losing due to a complete lack of focus and energy, along with lackadaisical and careless play, is hard to swallow.
that team doesn’t scare me.
Denver has become the second team to beat us in a season series. They came out and took this team lightly and paid the price
Phil was out-coached this game plain and simple. The lakers struggle when Phil allows the opposing team to dictate the lakers line-ups. And Bynum must have been hurt because Odom and Gasol give up two offensive rebounds late in the game to Martin. That would not have happened if bynum was in the game.
No bench support + turnovers + shoddy 3 pt D = formula for LA loss
I’d rather face OKC DEN SAS in the conf finals anyway
Dreams about getting 1 seed are gone now,it is time to move on and defend better record than boston,miami and dallas.
Let’s see now, 18-2 since the all star break, I will take that any day. I think right now I would take HCA over everyone except spurs and bulls if it meant we could just shut this down until
But the heat and celts have to lose and cooperate
Yes number 1 seed is definetly gone. SA and the Bulls schedules are too easy and we still have two tough games against Portland and OKC. Golden State game will be tough to being a back to back.
shannon brown dribbles way too much, has a poor handle, and fires away poor shots.
Exactly. Bulls schedule is super easy. We have
A two game lead over mavs, celts and the
Heat. That gives us a margin of one loss.
We just have to wait and see if Bynum is okay. Can we sign a Center before the playoffs? With Andrew’s injury history it’s strange we didn’t make getting a back up Center a priority. This team is not capable of playing defense or getting rebounds without a Center on the court. No team is. Look at the Celtics now. Especially when you’re playing without your defensive anchor.
Or maybe Bynum is okay and Phil just tanked this game so we don’t have to play OKC until the west finals?
You have to lose sometime, and today was that time. I don’t see any issues with the loss other than they slept-walked through the game and paid for it. I agree that, and have said all year long, the Lakers need a back-up center. There should be a big in the wings with some kind of upside that could be brought in slowly. I don’t care about playing time, because that would be accomplished during the season, but you have to have someone there in case of emergency. The Lakers have no one. Yes today was a culmination of everything you fear (Pau and Bynum getting hurt and Lamar in foul trouble) but you have to be prepared for these things. We are not!!! Sorry, facts are facts.
Do I still think that we will win the West and the Championship, YES!!! Am I panicking, NO!!! I’m just repeating the same mantra I have been using all year. I believe in insurance where it can be had. There is no insurance for Kobe but there are bigs out there who can spell our bigs that are far better than Caracter, Smith, and Ratliff.
Our strength (three excellent bigs in Bynum, Gasol, and Odom) is also our weakness due to lack of depth. Denver has four or five exceptional bigs (depending who’s rating them) and that depth gave us all kinds of problems today. They may be a bigger threat than OKC. Only time will tell.
This is why the regular season is too long…
In this game alone we had a Gasol injury scare and a Bynum knee scare. The outcome is less important than the health, and I sure hope Bynum is ok to go…..
Why not just play each team twice a year, have 16 or so less meaningless regular season games, and hand the playoffs start right after march madness…..
I can’t wait for the “world is falling” comments. As long as Bynum and Gasol aren’t hurt it’s going to be very hard to beat us in a 7 game series
Did I miss something?
Did Bynum hurt himself, or is Aaron just trying to figure out Phil?
Bynum came down from a play holding his knee and he didn’t play after that. The sideline report said he was fine but he didn’t come back into the game…
Lamar fell into Bynum’s knee in the fourth quarter. Bynum was kind of grimacing on the sideline.
i wouldn’t mind seeing barnes usurp some of brown’s minutes. brown only played 10 minutes tonight, and I wonder if that’s a sign Phil has lost confidence in him.
that would be weird, because Phil likes to use the regular season to give guys like brown the confidence they lack to step up in the playoffs.
with less than 10 games left, how likely is it the 1-dimensional Brown metamorphoses into the smart, all-around player the offense requires?
i’m surprised the lakers didn’t go with the kobe/pau pnr. Kobe could net get around his defender tonight one-on-one. the lakers sorely needed somebody to attack the basket and draw fouls.
Dont hate me but im glad we lost. The ego tells us go go go for it but in reality this team is ready. We have the second seed on lockdown. Shut it down. We have a brutal potentially 3 game stretch at the end of the year. Why waste the energy and effort when the teram is peaking, players need to rest and get ready for round one. We saw Pau get his knee tweaked, we saw kobe gettting kneed, we saw Bymun getting his tweaked. The playoff matter. chasing down SAS doesnt make sense. The 2nd 7th, 2,3 is a much better scenario for the lakers. we’ve made our point we are ready now lets take a little off the gas, rest kobe, rest pau, rest fish and ronm and lets focus on what really matters
The voice of reason DOM!!!! I couldn’t agree with you more. I have a weird feeling that we were being baited by San Antonio. We nolonger have to worry about the number one seed. It was not THAT important in the first place. I just hate losing to people like Kenyon Martin and JR Smith (who by the way played a great game today).
our magic number to lock up #2 is 4, i believe, since we own the tiebreaker against dallas. hopefully they lose tonight against portland.
Shaq had to be wheeled out of the Arena. Is it the end of the Big Achilles? I wonder how Danny feels about trading Perkins now?
Shannon Brown was such a good defender in college, but that was because he could use his superior athleticism against inferior players. His freakish speed and jumping ability allowed him to re-gain control over situations when he was beaten off the dribble (much like Deion Sanders was able to lay off receivers in football).
Shannon doesn’t have that advantage in the Pros because people shorten their dribble and use their bodies to knock him off balance and he can’t make up the space or position himself for the block. He needs to slide his feet more instead of run when defending to keep the players in front of him and he also needs to get his hands out in order to protect against dishes. He runs with his hands to his sides and allows free shots and passing angles when players drive. Basically he plays no defense.
Being blessed with an abundance of talent sometimes retards your ability to play the game the right way (see the Tracy McGrady article about the curse of talent).
The only thing that really hurts about this loss, is that the #1 seed is Kobe only chance at MVP, and he deserves another one!
The main thing is Gasol and Bynum being OK, assuming they are.
Denver has a pretty good team and the Lakers had to lose at some point.
Phillip Barnett says
Game recap is up: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2011/04/03/lakersnuggets-turnovers-and-rebounds/