It seems like punishment. You win a game and then you board a flight to Denver. The truth of the next twenty four hours is fighting through fatigue. And then fighting the Denver Nuggets. And then fighting through your own misery on the road. The Lakers did a pathetic job at all three. But first things first. To start the game they were surprisingly energetic and crisp. At least for the first three minutes. Steve Blake got them off to a good start shooting 3-5. But a team constructed on offense only is not going to be able to survive themselves. Eventually perimeter shots stop falling. This is what drowns the Lakers. They leave shooters wide open as they are late to recover off of double teams. It makes you wonder: do they watch game film?
The Nuggets scored 35 points in the first quarter to lead the Lakers by five. The Lakers were out hustled and played behind all night long, eventually losing to Denver 111-99.
Just so you don’t forget who this Laker team is on the road. They were outrebounded in the first quarter by 8. Seven Nuggets players had at least 2 rebounds in the quarter. The Nuggets had 12 second chance points. They don’t just stand around waiting for the ball to come to them. New concept: they move without the ball. When you see Nate Robinson diving on the floor for loose balls and the Laker players just standing around you get it.
To start the second quarter the Nuggets went on a 7-0 run, building the lead up to twelve, capped off by a Kenneth Faried- JJ Hickson lob. Take a minute to let that marinate. Getting jammed on by JJ Hickson. Wow. But Jordan Hill was energetic and frenetic and not to be denied as he was maniacal all over the floor. He was the Lakers best player and leading scorer with 13 points at halftime and the Lakers were able to cut a fourteen point lead to 6. The Lakers had more offensive rebounds in the second quarter than Denver and for the last six minutes they played harder but could not keep the Nuggets from getting to the line. At halftime the Nuggets had attempted 26 free throws to the Lakers 8.
Starting the third quarter down by six the Lakers cut the lead to three. But Ty Lawson built the lead back to ten. As great as Jordan Hill is he cannot be your best offensive player. He needs help from the perimeter guys and since that is where Gasol prefers to linger he needs to be more effective with his offense. Gasol shot 44% for the game. He put up 27 shots and scored 25 points. How Kobe like. Teams are not even guarding Gasol on the perimeter anymore.
There was a sequence where the Lakers blocked three shots and on the fast break Steve Blake missed on a pull up three instead of waiting to set up the offense. Huh? The Lakers were dominated in the quarter by Faried who seemingly got to every missed Denver shot. He had 7 offensive rebounds in the game and 21 points. Note to Gasol: trade rumors makes Faried play like a man possessed.
At the three minute mark in the third quarter the Lakers were down by four after a Xavier Henry triple. But the Lakers inability to get stops had the lead at eight again. With thirty seconds left in the quarter Nick Young had a four point play and the Laker ended the quarter trailing by four.
This is where it gets dicey for the Lakers, the fourth quarter, on the road, with players whose basketball I.Q. seems to fluctuate. The Lakers began the quarter with a missed three by Nick Young, an airball by Jodie Meeks and a Chris Kaman charge. Jordan Farmar was woeful. He did nothing out there. Consequently the Nuggets went on a 8-0 run. Not to mention the bonehead play by Nick Young beneath the Nuggets basket giving them an easy two points. Jordan Hill reentered the game with the Lakers having scored only eight points in the quarter. Without a scorer or someone who wants the ball besides Jordan Hill who had 15 rebounds, the lead became insurmountable. They Nuggets had 23 offensive rebounds and shot 52% in the paint. The Lakers had no answers for hard work, hustle and desire and at the end they had no fight.
Player(s) of the Game- Everyone in the paint for Denver. 60 points. 52% fg. The Lakers will see nightmarish versions of Faried and Mosgov in their sleep. Dunking. Layups. Open jumpers.
He should have stayed home- Jordan Farmar. 1 point. 1 rebound. 1 assist. Not a misprint people. One!! Jordan’s job is to be the leader of the second unit. Lately he has been lost. He has been passive, indecisive, not confident and particularly average.
He said WHAT?- James Worthy: “The Lakers were not aware of Timothy Mosgov’s talent.” Mike D’Antoni: “Don’t want to make excuses but it was a back to back.” Jordan Hill: “We did not help each other out.”
Highlight of the Night: Kenneth Faried-JJ Hickson lob. Faried showing off, maybe for potential trade suitors?
The Kobe System- Timothy Mosgov. 23 points off the bench. 9 rebounds. 66% fg. 4 blocks.
Remember this – Last year after ten games the Lakers were 5-5. This year they are 4-6. If you can’t go forwards, then by all means go backwards.