Last night the Lakers got a reminder of just how difficult it is to resist playing Denver’s game. A rollercoaster contest that saw the Lake Show race out to big leads only to give them back ended in a nail biting win for Los Angeles.
You can point to a lot of the obvious reasons for L.A.’s inability to hold a lead. We’ve seen it all season long. The reality is the Lakers got caught up in trying to run with the Nuggets.
Game 1 saw the Lakers dominate from start to finish largely because of their size but mostly because Ty Lawson had an off night. The speedy North Carolina alum is the engine that powers George Karl’s offensive machine. As he goes the Denver offense typically follows.
Now if Ramon Sessions can’t resist from sprinting out every time he sees an open court opportunity in Staples then just what is going to happen when that raucous crowd inside the Pepsi Center gets him fired up? Not even Kobe Bryant could pass up the chance to play some pickup style hoops last night.
More to the point, once they’re back in their own beds odds are the Nuggets will feel much more relaxed playing their brand of ball.
Andrew Bynum knows that all too well and said so after Game 2. Drew wasn’t exactly thrilled that the Lakers grinded out a close contest. He knows the path to beating the Nuggets runs through him. Getting the ball inside, controlling the tempo and owning the paint is the sure fire bet to beating Denver. Whenever the Lakers got away from those basic principles the game got close. It’s that simple.
Now trying not to get caught up in Denver’s up and down style is another story. Trying to do so in their crib where the home crown will encourage the Nuggets to run like the six million dollar man is going to be difficult.
What’s true in the game of dominos is true when playing against the Nuggets. Not all scoring is good scoring. Sometimes the Lakers just need to pass up those easy transition opportunities in order to establish their game, work the clock and pound the rock inside. Easy to say. Harder to do. Especially in Denver.