To quote D-Wade, “Sorry to everyone who thought we were going to go 82-0”.
There is a reason why Phil Jackson chose today to announce he doesn’t think his team has a chance to best his Bulls and their record 72 wins this season. Though PJ picking Miami to accomplish the feat doesn’t seem very probable after tonight either. It is clear the Lakers still have work to do if they want to win even 62 and get a sniff of homecourt in the postseason.
After stubbing their toes yet still lucking into a win against Minnesota, the writing was on the wall that the focus wasn’t where it should be. The Denver Nuggets exposed that by stealing the momentum from the Lakers in a back breaking second half that saw the Lake Show go from 14 up to losing by 6 in a disappointing 118-112 loss.
Kobe Bryant made NBA history by becoming the youngest ever to drop 26,000 points en route to a game-high 34. Mamba out-scored Carmelo Anthony but Melo out-dueled Kobe scoring 32 on 25 shots compared to Bryant’s inefficient 11 make on 32 attempts.
After dictating the tempo for the better part of two and a half quarters, the Lakers started trying to beat Denver at their own game. The end result wasn’t pretty as the Nuggets won the final frame 33-19.
Losing focus for 18 minutes cost the Lakers dearly as they got their first taste of defeat this season leaving the New Orleans Hornets as the last of the unbeaten.
Pau Gasol played big minutes (44) and put up big number (17 and 20) but shot just 6 of 17. That’s not Laker ball. This team needs to operate efficiently in order to win in hostile environments like the Pepsi Center. Large targets on backs come with winning two titles in a row and everybody’s going to be gunning.
Lamar Odom’s game was grounded. Those inconsistent performances are finally staring to appear. LO grabbed 12 boards but scored just 3 points on 1 of 6 shooting.
One of the biggest problems was that the Lakers started hot from the field and then fell in love with the three. I’m looking at you KB24 and your three makes on ten attempts.
Something of note is that Phil let Shannon Brown get a lot of run during crunch time. ShanWow responded by scoring 19 points in a variety of ways including a sick double-clutch dunk. Problem was he also began camping out in Radmanovic territory shooting 7 threes but making just two.
Hey, nobody expected this to be an easy win. Never mind how Denver has been playing lately you had to know they were going to get up for the Lakers. What’s concerning is how this game got out of hand in a hurry just when it looked like the finishing touches were being applied.
The only thing to do now is to shake off the last two tilts and get the last taste of home cooking against Phoenix this Sunday before hitting the road. As far as road tests go the Lakers failed this one. Good thing is it’s early in the season and there’s plenty of time to iron out the rough edges. Winning 9 of 10 games is still a rate good enough to best 72 wins but that can’t be the focus. Playing like Champs every night is easier said than done but those are the expectations when you’re going for a three-peat.