2009 Western Conference Finals Game 3: Denver Nuggets 97 – Los Angeles Lakers 103


Box Score | Highlights

How frustrating was the Denver Nuggets’ performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in game three of the Western Conference Finals?  I think the couple next to me may have broken up during the game.  Their initial excitement wasted away into some bickering, then some silence, then he got off the, “Who are you texting?”  That was pretty much it.  I think she spent most of the second half hitting on some guy at the Blue Sky Grill.

As bad as things were for that couple, things were worse for the Nuggets.

When I plopped down in my seat the energy and atmosphere was incredible.  Knowing how close the games in Los Angeles were it seemed like the Lakers had no shot at winning in the Pepsi Center.  Sadly, as the game wore on the Nuggets hit every branch as they fell from the top of the how to lose at home tree.

Horrible shot selection combined with terrible shooting?  Allowing the opponent to stay close all night long?  Giving up open shots and layups?  Bad technicals?  Denver did about everything possible to keep L.A. in the game.

Add in foul trouble and some more late game incompetence and just like in game one the Nuggets gave away what should have been a certain win.

What frustrated me all night long was the ridiculous number of three point attempts.  Carmelo took six in the first half.  Chauncey took seven and J.R. took ten.  Not all of them were bad shots, but when it is clear you are not hitting them, try something else. 

Chauncey took seven threes, only making two, and I think it would have been nice if he would have passed on a couple of them.  One he took in the fourth quarter was especially bad when he had a one on four and forced a contested three.  Chauncey has earned the right to take some of those, but it does not mean he has to.

The player that really frustrated me with his shot selection was Carmelo.  Melo shot four threes in the first quarter, although one was a buzzer beater and took two others in the second quarter.  Melo jacked up six three point attempts in the first 17:22 he was on the court.  When Carmelo was being aggressive, he was getting to the line.  Melo also made it to the line ten times during the 17 plus minutes he attempted six threes.  Maybe if Carmelo had kept being aggressive some of the Lakers’ players would have had to deal with foul trouble.

Overall, the Nuggets were never able to build up a lead bigger than eight because they were constantly shooting themselves in the foot.  Denver should have been up by ten at the half and 15 at the end of the third.  It was another wasted night and I was certainly off when I projected that Denver would play better at home than they did in Los Angeles.  Not only did Denver not play better, they submitted their worst game of the postseason. 

Additional WCF Game 3 Nuggets:

  • J.R. had completely abandoned his midrange game up until the fourth quarter when he finally pulled up from 15 on two occasions and made both attempts.  J.R. has also stopped shooting that one handed floater he broke out against the Hornets. 
  • Even though J.R. shot more threes than necessary, he probably played the best all around game of any Nugget.  He did a very good job driving and dishing.  Five of his six assists resulted in layups or dunks.  J.R. also did a pretty good job defending Kobe.  Smith was very good at fighting over screens and worked hard to cover Bryant. 
  • I thought Dahntay Jones played his best defense of the season on Kobe in game three.  Maybe he is starting to figure out some of Kobe’s tendencies.  We will see tonight in game four.
  • The Lakers did a good job of collapsing on penetration, but instead of cutting off all attempts to go inside altogether, Denver should have done a better job of moving the ball around to get the defense shifting around before attacking it.
  • I think it is time to inbound the ball to someone other than Chauncey or Melo and let one of those two go get the ball from that player.  I think L.A. has figured out the set some screens send Chauncey or Melo towards center court. 

Mindboggling Game Stats:

Pace Factor:  90.2 – Slow for a game in Denver and with only a few offensive rebounds to extend possessions.

Defensive Efficiency:  114.2 – allowing your opponent to get to the line 45 times will hurt your defensive efficiency.

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