The dates are all set and the playoff matchups are now written in stone. Before we start looking forward at the Lakers-Nuggets renewed playoff rivalry let’s take a look back at how the season series went.
During the regular season the Lake Show took three of four from Denver. Here is a quick recap of their regular season meetings.
The Lake Show closed out 2011 in style with this nail biting thriller on New Year’s Eve. Andrew Bynum made his debut in style having served his suspension from the JJ Barea incident. Drew’s line of 29 and 13 with 2 blocks was a preview for what was to come during his first All-Star season.
This one came down to a few crucial plays late. Derek Fisher authored one of his signature moments by out hustling the much quicker Ty Lawson to a loose ball on a critical possession. Nene blew a dunk. But the most infamous moment of all was Danilo Gallinari missing a layup late in the contest.
Kobe Bryant nearly dropped a triple-double and Metta World Peace posted a goose egg. So in many ways the Lakers laid the blueprint for how to beat Denver without any help from Metta in this contest. That’s something they’ll need to lean on going into the playoffs.
This game was one of those lockout scheduling quirks that had the Lakers and Nuggets playing a home-and-home series during New Year’s. Unlike the meeting the day before in Los Angeles, this one was an ugly offensive night for the Lake Show.
Bynum looked gassed as he was still trying to work himself back into shape. Drew still dropped 18 and 16 but the real story was Kobe’s hideous shooting.
Bryant shot a then career worst 6 of 28 from the field scoring a highly inefficient 16 points. He also had some critical turnovers late that would cost the Lakers any chance of a comeback.
Meanwhile Denver displayed their trademark for success this season. George Karl’s squad got a balanced scoring effort as six Nuggets scored in double figures.
This was L.A.’s sixth game in eight days to start the hectic season so there was a built in excuse for the team. Still, these early offensive struggles would become more apparent as the season went on for Mike Brown.
During their annual Grammy road trip the Lake Show made a stop in Denver. This win was meaningful as the Lakers were still trying to figure out how to win on the road early in the season. During those pre-Ramon Sessions games it usually meant grinding it out, playing half court hoops.
It was far from attractive but L.A. owned the Pepsi Center this evening.
D-Fish and Kobe hit some clutch shots late but also had some costly turnovers that kept the Nuggets hanging around. This game also put into perspective just how little depth the Lakers have and how many weapons the Nuggets can throw at any opponent.
Al Harrington was a matchup nightmare going for 24 off the bench. Andre Miller got in on the act as well scoring 16 in his reserve role.
Still, the Lakers used their considerable size advantage in the paint to own the boards and thus control the tempo. Bynum’s 15 points in the first quarter set the tone. This win might have shown the best game plan possible for the Lakers to beat the Nuggets.
The most recent and last meeting of the season between these two was different than their previous encounters. For one, the Lakers were in the middle of their seven-game stretch without Kobe who was resting his sore shin. Then just moments before the tipoff Mike Brown left the team to handle a family matter.
No Kobe. No Coach Brown. No problem.
The Lakers pretty much dominated this one. Were it not for one of L.A.’s customary late lapses in defense it would have been a win going away.
Matt Barnes stepped up his game going for 24 and 10 in 29 minutes of action. The feisty former Bruin was at his best needing on 11 shots to do all his offensive damage. We also saw the revitalized Metta World Peace that was playing so well prior to elbowgate. MWP scored 14, pulled down 8 boards but most important of all played his trademark brand of defense.
Now the real reason why the Lakers could absorb the loss of their best player and coach comes down to the man in the middle. Bynum scored 30 and was absolutely unstoppable with every touch he got. This performance came on the heels of Andrew’s 30 rebound effort in San Antonio so he was really in a groove at the time.
Overall you can see that when the Lakers establish Bynum early, play solid defense, control the tempo and get contributions from unexpected sources they’re got the exact formula to beat the Nuggets. In a seven game series it is all about making adjustments though and few coaches are better at that than George Karl. No telling what we’ll see in the playoffs but looking back at it the Lakers know how to beat this team. Now it’s just a matter of making it happen.