And now your additional nuggets from game two of the 2009 Western Conference Finals:
- The one thing I kept thinking in the second quarter when the Lakers were pushing their lead up to 14 was where is Chauncey? Even after Melo got it going to keep the Lakers from blowing the game open the Nuggets were still down 13 late in the second quarter. Aside from Kleiza, no one else was stepping up to help Carmelo. After scoring the Nuggets’ first bucket of the game Chauncey only tallied one more point over the next 17:52 he was on the floor.
Just like that, Billups exploded. Chauncey scored seven points over the final 1:11 of the second quarter, including his brilliant self inbounds pass off Kobe’s back. Even with Melo and Kleiza hitting shots Denver did not get all the way back in the game until Billups went off.
- The most impressive aspect of Billups self inbounds play to me was not the pass off Kobe’s back but finishing at the rim with Gasol hovering over his shoulder.
- A good friend of mine, who happens to be a big Cincinnati Bearcat fan and I think has a picture of Bob Huggins hanging above his bed, mentioned how I was a little too hard on Kenon after the first game. He did lead the team in rebounding and I thought when he was guarding either Pau or Bynum that he did a good job of holding his ground and not allowing them to get deep in the post, especially when they had the ball and were trying to back him down.
Game two was another matter. Kenyon did provide the bulk of the Nuggets’ offense early on, but defensively he was just watching the game. At 8:28 of the first quarter Carmelo missed a fast break three point attempt and Dahntay missed a tip attempt. The Lakers grabbed the rebound and started down the floor. Both Kenyon and Nene stayed back never crossing half court on the quasi fast break by Denver. Fisher brought the ball up and Kenyon met him at the three point line on the right wing. Chauncey came over to help, but never was able to get in position. Kenyon slid off of Fisher anyway opening up a lane to the rim. Even though he left Fisher he had inside position on Gasol. Fisher drove on to the rim where Nene challenged his shot and caused a miss. For some reason as Fisher drove by Kenyon actually drifted away from the lane sacrificing his position on Gasol and as the shot came off the rim Pau was there to tip the ball in.
Time and again in the early part of the game Kenyon was just watching the action. Martin played every second of the first 14:41 and did not have a single rebound to show for it. Kenyon would play another 2:29 after returning in the second quarter before collecting his first, and only defensive rebound of the game.
- One of the segments that was cut from my season preview film room post was how the Lakers usually do a great job of taking advantage of mismatches. So far this series when Pau has Melo or someone even smaller on him Los Angeles has not done a very good job of getting him the ball. It is not like them to not go into the post in situations like that. Look for L.A. to try to take better advantage of the Nuggets switching in the games in Denver.
- Dahntay Jones almost singlehandedly allowed the Lakers into the bonus committing four fouls in 1:24 early in the game. Jones defense on Kobe has been less than inspiring and I think Karl has to at least toy with the idea of starting J.R. and bringing Jones in for spot duty on players like Farmar and Shannon Brown. Brown scares me a little and I think Jones could make things hard on him.
- Chris Andersen has played decently, but we have not yet seen Birdzilla in this series. No matter how pumped up he gets at the Pepsi Center for games three and four he is going to have to play better post defense on Pau Gasol in order to earn more minutes. He can do so by putting his entire forearm in Gasol’s back when he is in the post instead of just a hand. When you use your hand it is almost impossible to stop a decent spin move (see the 1:41 mark of the first quarter for evidence).
Try it with a friend, family member or coworker right now. Get behind them, put your hand on their back while you are both pushing on each other. Then have them spin one way or the other. Next do the same thing with your forearm. Which one do you think is more effective as a defender? If you still doubt that I know what I am talking about I can put you in contact with people who can vouch for me in this area.
- Sandy Clough on 104.3 the Fan in Denver asserted that Anthony Carter was the Nuggets best bench player in game one. I really respect Sandy and he is typically the most well reasoned and informed Nuggets analyst in the entire world. If I had been drinking something when I heard him say that, it would have ended up outside the boundaries of my mouth very quickly. On the other end of the spectrum Nate at Pickaxe and Roll in his game two preview called for Carter to play only the minutes that Chauncey needs to rest. I thought that was a little too far to the other side of the Anthony Carter argument, but George Karl sided with Nate over Sandy.
Carter played only six minutes. It was the fewest minutes he was on the floor all season behind a nine minute outing against Toronto on December 2, 2008 (fondly remembered in Canada as the game that ended Sam Mitchell’s coaching career). Kleiza definitely ate into Carter’s minutes, but if LK can keep hitting his threes, do not forget he was 7-14 from behind the arc against the Hornets in round one, Carter will not have much of a role in this series. Plus with Denver possibly going big with Melo and Kleiza as the swingmen instead of AC and J.R. as we have seen in the small lineup that had success against Dallas it will relegate AC to strictly the few minutes of backing up Chauncey he received in game two.
- There has been some discussion in the comments of the game two recap regarding how biased Jeff Van Gundy has been in favor of the Lakers. My two cents is that I try to come up with insights that were not discussed during the game because anyone who watched the game, which is most of you, already knows it. During game two I lost track of how many times I thought I need to write X only to have Mark Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy go on to mention that very X I wanted to comment on seconds later. I think they are doing a very good job.
While I appreciate Scott Hastings, I think he gets a little too consumed with the officiating. I wish we had the option of watching the game on Altitude, but as far as national commentators go Van Gundy and Jackson are doing a good job of pointing out important details during the game.
I did not realize that Van Gundy had picked the Lakers in five, but in his defense, when you come out and say something, and you know a lot of people are going to hear/read it, you want to be right. If you follow fantasy football and read the work of Matthew Berry on ESPN.com you will know that he would rather be right on a prediction than be wrong and as a result have one of his fantasy teams win that week. There is a high premium on accuracy whether it be in post game analysis or in making future projections. Of course, everyone who prognosticates in public will be proven wrong at some point, but we do not have to like it.
- It is not always the announcers that point out aspects of the game I intended to mention, sometimes readers do it too. Jakester pointed out that the Lakers had three shot clock violations in the third quarter so I guess now I do not have to.
- I have heard quite a bit of consternation about how the game was called last night. Of course, fans on both sides felt their team was treated unfairly. All I will say is I thought there was a lot of inconsistency. The game would be called tightly for a few minutes, and then they would let them go at it for a while and I thought it was like that all night long. However, I do not think the officials played a role in the outcome of the game whatsoever.
- It is obvious that most fans are not pleased with how games are officiated so let’s make a change. The NBA added a third referee in the 1988-89 season why not add a fourth and try to cut down on the responsibilities that each man or woman has? Could it hurt? It would at least show that the league is trying to address the issue. What do they have to lose? The extra money they spend in salaries and travel expenses would be well worth it if it could improve the quality of officiating.
- By the way, I did a search for the term NBA switches to three referees and the second link that came up was my recap for game three against Dallas. That was not what I intended that post to be about.
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 91.3 – Not much running with 15 combined fast break points.
Defensive Efficiency: 112.8 – Getting a little high, but not too bad.
Offensive Efficiency: 116.1 – Very solid performance.
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Make sure to check out the firsthand account posted by Jezru at Pickaxe and Roll! Good stuff.