Beating the Denver Nuggets these days isn’t much to brag about. The franchise that has been referred to the “Lakers of the Rockies” is more like the “Zombies of the Rockies”. These Nuggets are the walking dead, a team whose locker room has been infected with a plague brought in by Carmelo Anthony.
But for the Lake Show, they’ll take quality road wins any way they can get them. Last night they got a win by finally finding a healthy balance. Aside from Derek Fisher, who still must be waiting until June to shine, the rest of the starters were in double figures. No Laker scored more than 19 points as Pau Gasol and (gasp!) Ron Artest led the way sharing team-high honors. Lamar Odom continues to be the most consistent Laker by again dropping a double-double (18 and 10) off the bench.
Kobe Bryant took a big step back in the first half allowing his Purple and Gold brethren to find their rhythm. Once the third quarter started, Mamba went to work. KB24 scored 14 of his 18 points in the third. That would be the quarter that killed off Denver’s hopes as the Lakers outscored the Mile High Zombies by 13.
From there the outcome was academic as fans began heading for the exits.
Overall, it was perhaps the most balanced and consistent effort the Lakers have put forth this season. The bigs owned the paint while the perimeter players picked their spots wisely. While George Karl’s team has found a way to take the D out of Denver, the Lakers still operated in a controlled and carefully executed fashion, cautious not to try and get into a track meet with the Nuggets.
Still, this win felt very tainted. Given the way Denver has risen to the challenge whenever the Lake Show is in town, it was disconcerting to see the home team roll over in the second half. The Carmelo circus has certainly taken its toll. While this is good news for the Lakers as it appears Denver’s window has closed it is sad in some ways to lose such a worthy rival.
But that’s the business of basketball. You won’t see any tears shed in Los Angeles.
After getting the taste of defeat in Dallas out of their mouth, the Lakers have earned some much needed rest. This team will get three days with no games to regroup before gearing up for the next stretch.
While there’s nothing to be gained by beating the walking dead there is a valuable lesson to be learned. When all the weapons on this team are involved they are an unstoppable force. More efforts like these, no matter the opposition, will result in more quality wins.