2009 Western Conference Finals Game 1 Additional Nuggets

The highly anticipated additional nuggets from game one of the Western Conference Finals:

  • Nuggets fans are very upset that George Karl subbed Anthony Carter in the game in place of Chris Andersen.  If Carter does not throw the ball away no one bats an eye at the substitution and despite the fact he was being covered by Lamar Odom, there is no reason other than sloppiness that his inbounds pass was stolen.  There was 30 seconds left on the clock and I think Karl wanted to get a quick shot in three or four seconds for Carmelo Anthony or Chauncey Billups so that the Lakers did not have a chance to run the clock out for the final shot in a tie game.  That pass by Carter will probably haunt his dreams for the rest of his life.  I know it will haunt mine.
  • There are a lot of plays you can highlight in a two point loss that could have been the difference between a win and a loss, but other than the debacle down the stretch there was one sequence that keeps bugging me.  At the end of the first half the Nuggets have the ball with the shot clock off.  In that situation you should never give the opponent the ball back with more than two seconds left.  Carmelo has had a problem with managing the clock in that situation his entire career.  Last night he started his move to the basket with 13 seconds on the clock.  Sure he made a nice play and earned Kenyon a dunk, but the Lakers were left with 8.4 seconds left in the half and of course Derrick Fisher drained a three from the corner.  Giving the Lakers that much time is unacceptable and Denver paid for that mistake dearly.
  • In the middle of the fourth quarter J.R. hit a three to put Denver up 84-79 it was a big shot and the Nuggets had overcome a four point deficit and were building momentum.  At the other end Pau is posting up Nene and has moved into the middle of the lane.  Meanwhile Jordan Farmar is running along the baseline.  Instead of staying with Farmar Anthony Carter decides to double Pau for no reason whatsoever.  Pau kicks a pass out to the wide open Farmar and he drills the three.  Denver did not double very much, but when they did the Lakers seemed to take advantage of it.
  • Later in the game with Denver once again up five, 94-89, AC and Andersen trapped Kobe along the sideline.  Kobe passed to Pau, Birdman’s man, at the elbow forcing Melo to leave Ariza to cover Gasol.  Pau passed over to Ariza and Kenyon did not rotate up resulting in an open three that swished through.  The sad thing is had Kenyon rotated up to Ariza, Birdman was already running from the left wing where he had trapped Kobe, to the right corner where Kenyon had left Fisher.  Everyone did their job, but one player and it cost Denver three points.
  • The Nuggets offense looked incredible in the first quarter.  They were constantly moving and making great passes.  As the game wore on the Lakers increased their defensive pressure and the Nuggets quit looking for those little holes to exploit.  Earlier in the season the big story surrounding the Lakers was how they were playing great defense.  They lost some of that mojo as the season wore on, but L.A. is certainly capable of playing very good defense for prolonged periods of time. 
  • One thing I failed to mention in my recap was one of J.R.’s four misses from the line was his intentional miss at the end of the game.  That does not excuse his other three misses, but he was 2-5 when trying to make it which is nowhere near as bad as 2-6.
  • As was reported first in the live chat, J.R. has hurt his right calf.  He is probable for Thursday, but if he is limited at all it will be difficult for Denver to win.
  • Staying with J.R. he definitely shot horribly.  He missed an open layup, left a ten foot jumper a good two feet short and of course there were his missed free throws.  Mix in the two or three bad turnovers he had and it was difficult to watch.  He was clearly nervous as he did not attempt a three point shot until he had been on the floor for more than 15 minutes.  However, he played as good of defense on Kobe as any other Nugget, and did a very good job rebounding the ball.  He ended up with more defensive rebounds, five, than Nene or Carmelo, four each.
  • Kenyon has a fractured ring finger on his left hand and he is probable as well.  I do not foresee this as being too big of a deal.  Kenyon can handle the pain.  Easy for me to say!
  • Continuing with rebounding Nene, Kenyon and Birdman are going to have to really step up on the defensive boards.  The Lakers do a great job of hanging around and tipping the ball around.  One thing the Nuggets might be able to do to get them to back off is to run more.  If the Nuggets keep getting easy baskets in transition L.A. is going to have to stop being so aggressive and send more players back on defense when the shot goes up.
  • I get tired of how officials call jump balls in the NBA.  Chris Andersen missed a shot with 1:00 left on the clock in the fourth quarter and there was a fight for the rebound.  Birdman finally recovered the ball, but was spooned from behind by Lamar Odom who was awarded a jump ball even though I do not think he was making any contact with the ball whatsoever.  If anything the referee should have thrown up Birdman and had Odom and the ball try to gain control of him.  Why is it that the rules go out the window as soon as a player is on the floor with the ball?  The only time I have seen a foul called in that situation was when Melo was whistled for trying to tie up a Mavericks player, I think it was Kidd, in Dallas.  Sometimes the contact that goes down in that situation would draw an unnecessary roughness penalty in football.
  • We talked about this in the chat, but I want Kobe to be suspended for game two so let’s keep it going.  There is no way to know for sure, but early in the fourth quarter when Kobe hurt his finger trying to catch a pass it sure looked like he loaded up before running into Kenyon.  We all know Kobe lashes out briefly when he gets angry (remember the forearm to Manu Ginobili’s face a couple of years back after Manu blocked his shot?) and I think there is a possibility that the way he swung his arm he may have slammed into Kenyon’s nether regions deliberately.  ESPN deserves kudos for actually showing the replay a couple of times although none of the announcing crew actually questioned Kobe’s intent.  Kenyon has been punished unfairly for his past, for example his $25,000 fine for his little push of Dirk in the previous series, so why is this not looked at with more suspicion because of Kobe’s past? 
  • Before the series I marked a bunch of clips to put together for my film room preview, but I did not have time to put all of them in.  A couple of those clips were of the Lakers’ full court pressure.  Los Angeles applied the press to start the second quarter and Denver abruptly passed the ball up the floor and J.R. drew a foul on Bynum.  The Lakers stuck with it though and I think it did disrupt the Nuggets offense a little bit. 

Mindboggling Game Stats

Pace Factor:  94.6 – Pretty high considering all of the Lakers’ offensive rebounds prolonged many of their possessions.

Defensive Efficiency:  111.0 – Decent, but not great.  The Nuggets held L.A. to 41.1% shooting for the game which goes to show how all of those offensive rebounds let the Lakers off the hook.

Offensive Efficiency:  108.9 – That is the Nuggets’ second worst rating of the playoffs behind their 106.4 in game three at New Orleans.

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  • BeefySwats

    Ugh, injuries to both Kenyon and JR. :(

    Kobe’s shoulder was definitely intentional, but Kenyon hasn’t done himself any favors with his play in the postseason. I agree with the terrible double standard in the NBA when it comes to superstars, but what are you going to do? Denver’s gotta keep fighting through it.

  • runningdonut

    What else is new with AC? I understand GK went for a quick shot and wanted him in the game for defense. The truth is, however, he sucks. He continually leaves his man, runs around chaotically going for steals, and lets people blow by him while he swats at the ball and gives up a layup for forces a teammate into fouling. This happened against the Hornets (trying to strip CP3 at half court), the Mavs (Jason Terry 3), and multiple times last night. This is not last year’s team and that’s not how they play defense anymore.

    This is just frustration driven rage but somebody had to say it. For everyone’s sake I just hope AC and George forget it about it and be aware of how to avoid stuff like that. What can I say, I was a huge Steve Blake fan and I’m bitter. AC is dead to me, again. Until we win game 2 at least.

  • Bee

    I think we can still take Game 2, but it will require playing smart to close the game AND coaching to win (rather than coaching not to lose). I am still frustrated with George Karl and am not convinced that he isn’t the master of panic.

    Runningdonut – we need a new backup PG next year. No question.

  • Frontrange

    It was a painful last five minutes and for the life of me, I can’t understand why you would want AC in, in the last 30 seconds. If you are going for a quick shot, don’t you want Andersen in for defense anyway?

    But . . .let’s not overeact.

    AC has won a few games for us this year with clutch play down the stretch and over the past month (since he got healthy) has been playing much better. In fact he has more steals than turnovers in the plauyoffs. The second unit is better with Carter pushing the pace helping both Birdman and Smith get better looks.

    I am not sold that Blake would be an upgrade at back-up PG for this team. Someone like Jordan Farmer – young, athletic, good outside shooter – for Billups to mentor would be nice.

  • Othe33

    I can’t shake the feeling we can play much better. Lots of guys produced, but I know they have more in them.

    A win tonight and two at home would break these Lakers’ backs.

  • pb

    I don’t know about breaking the Lakers’ backs. This game will be interesting as both teams will play better, especially the role players other than Kobe and Melo.

    However, the key will be the adjustments each team makes. How will the Nuggets improve their defensive rebounding? How will the Lakers improve establishing the post offense?

    Whoever does the better job of that will come out victorious. I must say that I’m impressed with the Denver team this season, especially the focus of Melo and Chauncey. However, I wonder which team would win if both teams are playing their best. I think the Lakers will because they have more experience. I feel like the Nuggets are what the Lakers were last season. A young team that is finally beginning to realize its potential. However, as it was proven in the Finals, the talent alone doesn’t win championship. This year’s Laker team has what the Boston had last year. Battle tested experience from going through tough series.

    Good luck, Nuggets.

    BTW, I applaud Jeremy for having one of the more intelligent and analytical blog sites out there, very similar to the Forum Blue And Gold site.