Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Lakers 93, Denver Nuggets 89

Los Angeles Lakers 93 FinalRecap | Box Score 89 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 31 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -6
Nene had trouble defending and scoring on the Lakers’ bigs down low. Los Angeles has always been a bad match-up for the Brazilian big man, and Friday proved no different.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 29 MIN | 1-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -1
Gallinari started off the game scoring a few buckets but went ice cold from there on out. This is another among a handful of bad performances Gallinari has had recently and the second game in the last three where he’s been relegated to the bench late in the fourth quarter of a tight game. Even considering his struggles, it’s hard to understand why he wasn’t at least on the floor for the final play of the game.
Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +3
Mozgov was playing great yet again until he went down with an ankle injury. He was defending well and made several nice shots in the post. As weird as it sounds, the Nuggets missed him greatly once he exited the game.
Arron Afflalo, SG 24 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -7
Afflalo played good defense for most of the game and came up with a few steals in the process. His struggles continue and naturally so does his erratic insertion into the lineup.

Ty Lawson, PG
36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 14 PTS | -4
Ty Lawson was one of the strong points to a Nuggets team that had difficulty doing anything well against the Lakers. While Gasol and Bynum offer up an intimidating combo for the diminutive guard to score against, he still found ways to affect the game in other areas.
Al Harrington, PF 37 MIN | 8-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 24 PTS | -8
Big Al came up “big” in the fourth quarter where he scored 10 straight points to keep the Nuggets alive. His passion and desire to win are proving to be some of the most valuable intangibles this Nuggets team has to offer. Unfortunately, the rest of his teammates couldn’t quite bring it the way Al did against the Lakers.
Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-6 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 16 PTS | +1
Miller had a solid night numerically but once again had trouble guarding his opponents. Even though he may be one of the better players on the Nuggets roster its perplexing as to why he always closes out games even when he’s pitted against much larger shooting guards where Afflalo might have more success.
Corey Brewer, SF 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Brewer didn’t see much time but in the minutes he did receive he brought the standard infectious energy level that Nuggets fans have become accustomed to seeing.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +4
This was by far one of Rudy’s worst games of the season. His three-point shot was not falling, yet he continued to hoist up countless jumpers which almost never made it through the rim. Again, it’s imperative that Rudy makes an impact in other areas of the game besides just shooting 3-pointers.
Kosta Koufos, C 16 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +2
Koufos wasn’t exactly having his way against the Lakers bigs and finished the night off on the bench for most of the second half as a result. Similar to Nene, this was a tough match-up for the young center even though he gave his best effort in the minutes he was given.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Stops: In yet another close game the Nuggets could not figure out a way to get the win. Whether the game is high scoring or stagnant the Nuggets simply cannot find ways to get stops on the defensive side of the ball which is in turn leading to losses. At some point in the near future the Nuggets must adopt a more defensive-oriented mindset in order to secure these types of wins.
  2. Shots: The game was fairly even in most statistical categories except for three-point shooting. The Nuggets took 22 to the Lakers 13 and made only 23 percent of them. Although they were attempting to drive, the Lakers big men thwarted most of these attempts which often lead to pull up jump shots beyond the arc. In the future, Denver cannot resort to taking bad 3-pointers because of strong interior defense from the opponent.
  3. Scheduling: Although playing at home always beat playing on the road, the Nuggets faced an odd situation where this notion possibly didn’t ring true. Instead of playing in the exact stadium they played in on Thursday, the Nuggets were forced to travel all the way back to Denver for a game that could have easily been played in L.A. The Nuggets looked incredibly fatigued on Friday which is a result of nothing more than bad scheduling.
  4. Struggles: This is now the third loss in the last four games by the Nuggets with the sole win coming against a Clippers team that was clearly not prepared to play. Though Nuggets Nation should be far from entering “Panic Mode” it’s about time to start wondering what needs to fixed in order to get back on track. Whether it be a refocused commitment to defense, better lineups or just a stronger effort on all ends of the floor, something needs to be done and soon.
  5. Size: In the NBA, size matters and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. The Lakers won tonight for a variety of reasons but having Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol — two current All Stars — in the front court was possibly the biggest advantage. Though Mozgov continues to develop it’s crucial that the Nuggets address this issue either via trade or in the off season to insure their title chances remain in sight.

Game 23 Advanced Stats (and thoughts by Charlie)

Pace Factor: 92.1 – Maybe it was tired legs. Either way L.A. controlled pace all game
Offensive Efficiency:  96.7 – Really disjointed effort and sloppy play
Defensive Efficiency:  101.0 – Not good at all. No consistency on this side of the ball.

  • George Karl said after the game that Gallo’s vision was blurred and he had trouble seeing after being smacked in the face on a drive to the rim. Although Gallo had a horrible game up until the point World Peace clobbered him, he never looked right after the injury and it certainly played a part in his benching.
  • That being said, fans need to jump off Karl for benching Gallo again. There wasn’t any reason to bring him back in. Gallo will close games in the playoffs and he needs to learn how to be tougher and earn the trust of his teammates in tight situations. Please, do not give me the argument he opens up the offense or scares opposing defenses in any way. He needs to make good decisions with the ball to do that. Once again, as soon as Gallo went out Karl’s decision paid off and the Nuggets made a run to get within one possession.
  • Afflalo’s defense on Kobe was very good. As Kalen mentioned nobody else did a good job guarding him and the Nuggets double and triple teaming came back to bite them. Kobe has seen that a million times and knows how to beat it. Karl needed to play Afflalo more. Why he didn’t I’m not sure other than the fact Karl wanted Andre Miller in the game and the Nuggets had serious size problems going that small. It’s frustrating, we know AAA isn’t playing his best but 24 minutes is far too little especially with the coach begging for defense throughout most of the game.
  • Give the Lakers credit, they were motivated and completely controlled Nene. The Nuggets got nothing going in transition and every shot was contested. Add in the tough scheduling factor with the Nuggets flying in after a late west coast game and it’s hard to complain about losing on a last second shot that may have won it.
  • Speaking of the last shot, you’d like better execution in that situation. Spread the floor with 4 shooters and give Nene the ball. I was begging for the Nuggets to shoot a three and steal a game they had no business winning. Overtime would have been bad idea with another tough game in Portland tomorrow. Harrington’s attempt wasn’t the play we all wanted but lets give Al some credit. He’s played hard all year and earned the right to take that shot.
  • Looking at the schedule, it’s impossible to have a more difficult game than the one tomorrow. Three games in a row, all with travel in bad weather. Not only that, they are traveling after late starts and getting in around four in the morning twice in a row. To top it all off they face one of the most dominant home teams in the league who are angry and highly motivated after a loss to the lowly Kings. Oh yeah, and they’re fully rested. Pray for a watchable game tomorrow night.
  • gk4prez

    Aren’t these game stats from the Clippers game?

    • gk4prez

      I guess it doesn’t really matter, the grades are accurate for the most part although I do think you are being a bit kind on the grade that you gave to Rudy.

    • Kalen

      Yeah they are. The rapid reaction generater wasn’t working, but like GK4Prez says the grades still reflect the performances against the Lakers.

      • Kalen

        Oop, didn’t see you replied to your own comment there. So yeah as YOU say, the grades and analysis do in fact reflect the Lakers game. I’ll try and get this fixed tomorrow.

    • lil rik

      How is Gallo going to go 1-9 and 1-6 from 3-point range? Talk about hot and cold. That AINT gonna work for a deep playoff run if he is our #1 scorer. I know this is completely cliche, but he HAS to find a way to be more consistent. One or two buckets here or there…

  • Jeff

    It’s funny how George Karl said Rudy was like JR without the headache. Rudy takes just as bad shots and turns the ball over just as much. It should be “Rudy is JR without the speed or scoring ability.”

    • Trevor

      At a critical point in the game when Harrington was starting to get it going from 3pt land Rudy took a three that killed all the momentum of the run they were on. Hard to blame it on that one bad shot though when a lot of guys looked out of sync tonight.

      • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

        In Rudy’s defence, it was wide open and he is a shooter. Unfortunately our “shooters” are very inconsistent, Gallo being a prime example 1-10 against Memphis, 5-5 from 3 point land against the Clippers and 1-9 again tonight.

        I said it on another post recently, but I’ll say it again. The nuggets need to look for our bigs, I’m mainly talking about Moz and K2, when they get good position in the post.
        There have been heaps of times when one of them have sprinted down the floor and been wide open in the paint or had a perfect lane to the basket but been totally ignored by the gaurds/wings. Today another fine example, 7 foot K2 had 6-3 Goudelock on him sealed in the post, but Gallo hoists up a 3 that misses long and the Lakers run away with it.

        • Charlie

          The problem is Moz and K2 can’t catch passes. I’m not just hating or being negative either. Both of them have bad hands and turn the ball over a lot.

          Moz and K2 also have to get more offensive rebounds. They need to be tougher and use their size better. It’s sad the Nuggets are last in offensive rebound rate despite the fact they play at a fast pace and have a lot of size on the roster.

          You can blame the guards a little for not getting them the ball, but you also have to blame Moz and K2 a little because they’re just not that good right now. We have to be patient and let them develop.

          • lil rik

            Good point Charlie.
            It is so unbelievably hard to find a big man with average offensive abilities AND average defensive abilities – People criticize Nene (sometimes deservedly), but that’s why he gets $13MM per year. Bird matched that description for a few years – he can finish, knock down a perimeter jumper, and hit his free throws – but his head just isn’t in the games these days. What is his problem?

          • Bryan

            The lack of offensive rebounds has more to do with George Karl’s overreliance on 3 guard lineups than deficincies with Moz and Koufous. Size doesn’t matter if it’s sitting on the bench.

    • Dubz

      You people who continue to bring up JR really baffle me. Quit romanticizing the JR Smith experiment already. The Nuggets want nothing to do with him, he wasn’t that great anyway. You truly have no sense of what’s needed to win in this league.

      • Jeff

        I never said I wanted JR back with the Nuggets. Far from it.

  • DENVER4RING

    I really think that GK should play Kenneth Faried and J-Ham more as in games like this where there is a lack of energy and hunger as both of them would just give 110% and give what Al gave us in the 4th.

  • Sam Adhikari

    From the beginning of the game, it didn’t look like 2012 Denver Nuggets Basketball. Maybe it’s because of the back-to-back schedule vs tough teams but we didn’t shoot the ball well, Nene got absolutely owned by Bynum, & we couldn’t really get any easy transition buckets going until the 2nd half.

    Nene almost always struggles against the Lakers because of their size. He’s a one dimensional player with very limited post move. He has no hook shot, so all he did tonight was go directly at Bynum without any pump fakes (except that one basket).

    The Lakers D is so darn good, man; they suffocate you. It’s really hard to score on them because of their rotations, size & coaching. Unless you outrun them it’s tough to drive to the paint & score vs the Lakers. Even without Odom, they have size. That was evident on the final play of the game as Derek Fisher didn’t let Ty go to his right. Good job by Ty not forcing it because it was probably going to get blocked.

    Now Afflalo’s defense was spectacular on Kobe, but he’s still struggling offensively, & that’s mainly because we don’t have “star” power anymore to create attention. Last year, Melo and Billups drew crowd in the lane leaving shooters open, & Afflalo capitalized it by shooting nearly 50%. I still think the Nuggets overpaid him. Love the guy, but he’s overpaid. One good year & we throw that much money at him? Cmon now.

    Like Karen said, we’re far away from hitting the panic button, but it’s REALLY frustrating losing close games after close games. That loss vs Clippers at home, a heart-breaker in Memphis, & another tough tonight at home. Had we closed out these games, NBA analysts would been all over our team.

  • chronosynclastic infundibula

    Bynum has really improved over the years. I am not suprised that Nene had such a difficult time against the much larger Bynum. Moz and Kouf have a long ways to go before they can hold their own against Bynum and Pau. Harrington was by far our best, and dare I say, most physical big tonight.

    Dre played way too many minutes, time that Afflalo should have received. This really pissed me off to no end. Very few fast break points, this will be what the playoffs are like!!!!!!

    I completely agree that we need some Faried in a game like this to shake things up. The refs were aweful tonight but at least they were making bad calls for both teams.

    I love sports blogs because the hindsight bias is a beautiful thing that will distort my memory and make me believe that I had the correct answers to the Nuggets woes all along. Come to think of it, it must be a gigantic pain in the ass to be an NBA coach and have all these internet wizzards claim to know basketball better than the pros. But I can’t feel bad for Karl, he gets paid millions.. boohoo! More Faried, Less Miller, Resign Chandler! If we do these things we will win the title!!!! hahaha

  • Hi

    Ok seriously we are going to end up losing if George Karl doesn’t stop putting Andre miller on taller more athletic shooting guards, heck even small forwards!!! At the end of the game George Karl needs to use his timeouts for offensive defensive lineups if possible or decide between Ty or dre at the end of the game. We lost in Memphis and now at home to la because: A. Dre was guarding oj mayo for the game winning three and B. now Kobe destroyed him at the end of the game… But George Karl will not change this and this will be our downfall in the playoffs… He was interviewed during the espn broadcast saying teams havent figured out his two point guard lineup… Hmm I think they have!!! #iwantjulyanstone

  • MarcP

    I want jr smith back so bad even though I know it would never happen, his scoring ability would have been handy tonight

  • http://roundballminingcompany.com Mark from Charlotte

    GK should give Hamilton and Faried a chance to play because they will bring some needed energy during the game.

    • Bryan

      Not gonna happen unless there is a blowout. Get ready for the Birdman playing horrible defense and giving up lots of easy baskets. As I think that’s more likely to happen before Faried gets a shot.

  • Peter

    Another frustrating game that we had a chance to win, but I knew we were not going to because our defense was shoddy at best and our offense had no rhythm. Let me give some credit to the lakers because they did play good defense, but I still think our shot selection could have been way better. This is the kind of game that proves to me that we don’t have what it takes to win in the playoffs right now. I am going to make a comparison and I want to know if you guys agree. We play a similar style of basketball as the Nash-Amare era Suns which is great for lots of scoring, but not great for the playoffs. Those Suns teams (2004-10) were always great in the regular season, but never made the finals. Those Suns team’s main problem was getting stops when it needed them, and you could even argue they didn’t have anybody who could really create their own shot. Nash is great at creating for others and Amare has always needed a good point guard to thrive. The problem for us? We don’t have anybody as good as Nash OR Stoudemire. One stat that announcers NEVER talk about and I can’t figure out why is half-court points. Sure the Nuggets get a ton of fast break points which basically means you are great at scoring when nobody is playing defense. The main reason the Lakers beat the Nuggets and would do so in the playoffs is because they are a much, much, MUCH better half-court team, and they proved it last night. Thoughts?

  • Frontrange

    Sometimes I wonder if we are watching the same game . . .by and large, I thought the Nuggets took excellent outside shots and didn’t make them. Of Gallo and Rudy’s 1-11, I only counted two that were bad shots (and two more when they could have gone inside to a mismatch). Lawson took one end of shot clock 3 and two more wide opens. If the Nugs make even 3 of 12 wide open misses from good 3 shooters, it is a totally different game.

    The Greek was actually servicable, IMO. Don’t know if you expected more, but Bynum neutralized after his 15 pts first half. And getting physical with the Lakers doesn’t hurt either.

    I am not GK hater, but why, go to an ISO on the last play when running the offense consistently generated good looks (missed threes but open one anyway).

    But if you are going to go ISO, Lawson, absolutely needs to keep the dribble and the ball in his hands on the last play. After getting stopped once, he should reset and attack again. Despite Al almost making that shot a contested three against World Peace is probably the last choice for GK. CP3 would never pick up the dribble and pass out to a covered guy 28 feet from the hoop . . .Lawson’s needs to step that up and attack again.

  • ny nugs fan

    rudy fernandez isnt all that fleet of foot yet he consistently overplays his man on d; hence he’s always getting easily ‘jooked'; hence a major liability

    somebody could easily coach him up in this area…show him some michael cooer videos or something

    but the shot selection?..cant help you there

  • bayesk

    Didn’t the Nuggets get the defensive stops late in this game? I recall at least three times with less than three minutes left where our pressure and hands netted us a possession. Which we then would promptly bungle the following play. Very frustrating, as we gave ourselves the chances by playing good D (those late dunks by Bynum not withstanding) but couldn’t capitalize. Losing three of the last four sucks, but we could have won all of them. What’s nice is to see our boys get to the point where we fans expect, if not practically demand, that they win the tight ones; we know they’re fully capable of it. Not long ago, it was easy to look at close losses and think, “well, Star X almost won it for us again. Next time.”. It was easier to swallow those close losses – all our eggs were in one basket. But now we think, “for cryin’ out loud, can’t we just get the right people on the floor [a whole 'nother rant] and execute?” I for one, love to watch these guys; the frustrations and disappointments come from knowing what they’re capable of and watching them fall short, not from a sense of inevitable failure and epic inadequacy like so many Nuggets teams in the past. And the best part is the “team-ness’ they have. Screw the notion that you must have multiple stars to contend; it’s lazy thinking to claim it’s the only model for success simply because it’s been the model in the past. Of course the star-system has worked before – I’m not claiming otherwise. But the old “this is how it has always been done” argument is one I patently reject. I’m all in with the starless 2012 Denver Nuggets, deep title run or not. Go Nuggz!

  • Trevor

    Considering the scheduling, travel, and weather we can’t really complain… Maybe just better execution down the stretch and we take the W. Nugs could use some practice time working on situational basketball.

  • Jrsmithisnumber1

    The nuggets have a serious issue as to who takes the shot at the end of the game. It’s clear George wanted Ty to beat Derek Fisher off the dribble but he gave up, just seemed like he didn’t want to shoot it. Nene has had tendencies to shrink late in games, and Gallo wasn’t even in. Great players at the end of games take it to the basket, and the only person who’s made big shots is Arron Afflalo who can’t create his own shot. Somebody’s gotta step up and take it to the rim.

  • Alex

    I didn’t see a grade for Corey Brewer I thought he was playing great defense but hot screwed on two back to back fouls where he just contested the shot and was taken out fir the rest of the game.

    • ny nugs fan

      gotta agree…brewer is an amazing defensive player

      really enjoy watching him work

  • Aaron

    Nuggets Are Just Way To Inconsistent. We Wont Win A Playoff Game if We Keep Doing This. We Also Wont Win Games if We Have Andre In To Ruin The Flow And Rythem.

  • dynamo.joe

    I actually thought K2 was doing a good job on Bynum. Bynum didn’t flip out and get T’d up for nothing. Even if the way he got in his head was by fouling him and getting help from the ref, so what?

    K2 has 6 fouls to give and who cares if he fouls out as long as he forces Bynum to respond with stupid fouls of his own. Let’s face facts, responding with stupid fouls is what Bynum does best. It hurts LA MUCH more to lose Bynum than it does for us to lose K2.

  • http://TzikitishVillainy.tumblr.com TzikitishVillainy

    I think this game down to the fact that the Lakers had the three best players on the court. This is exactly how a playoff game will generally look like (minus the scheduling issue). Kobe played exceptional, they knocked down open shots, and their big men controlled the paint. Having said that, this game still came down to the last shot even with Gallo struggling so mightily. If anything, this was not a bad loss by any means.

    All I wish is that Lawson was more aggressive against Fisher all game. This was the match-up that the Nuggets should have continuously exploited, but went away from that far too much. Throwing the ball into Nene in the post is beneficial against weaker and smaller big men, but Gasol played him exceptional and Nene consistently forced it, instead of kicking it out.

  • http://TskitishVilllainy.tumblr.com TskitishVilllainy

    Anyone know how long Mozgov is out for? Injury looked bad, but x-rays negative.

  • Andrew

    Ha ha. Nuggets must have lost last night, given all the “sky is falling” comments. Once they get another run going, we’ll b able to read mostly “I love these Nuggets” comments.

    Last night was just a tale of “ifs”. If Moz had not gone down, if Karl had kept AAA on Kobe more, If Ty had kept the ball at the end and went up with it, If Harrington had made that shot, If Gallo and Rudy hadn’t combined for 2/15 shooting.

    Those are the breaks, folks. I don’t think anyone has a problem with the team’s heart and hard play these days, and we all seem to share the frustration with Karl’s rotations and play-time as well as Gallo’s and Rudy’s maddening shooting inconsistency. The good news is that AAA seems to be waking up (last night notwithstanding) and (assuming he is ok) Moz seems to be gaining confidence with each game. I’ll say it again, if AAA gets back to where he was and Moz comes back healthy and keeps progressing into a legit big man, there is no limit to what this team can do (as long as Gallo and Rudy learn to stop shooting when they know they are off…haha).

    Nuggs have a brutal Febrary schedule. Let’s hope they can win through it, and come out on the back end a legit contender!

    GO NUGGS!

    • chronosynclastic infundibula

      Hindsight bias is a beautiful thing indeed! Without it there would be no such thing as sports blogs.

  • Dubz

    I have to say I was vehemently against trading Andre earlier in the season, but my mind is slowly beginning to change. I’m not necessarily saying it’s all because of his play, it’s mostly because of that stubborn son of a gun GK. I support GK, but that 5 head of his is very egotistical. Miller CANNOT finish games playing defense against opposing SG’s. Miller is a terrible defender as is, don’t make him play against the opposing teams best player on most nights in crunch time. I blame a lot of this on Afflalo as well because he’s turned into such a black hole on offense. At this point there’s really no excuse for him and he either needs to sit, or get it together. This team will be fine and this schedule is utter BS I was thinking that when I first looked at it a few days ago. Sometimes I wish GK could be the head coach for player development and then stay in the locker room during games and let someone else coach. SMH

    • Andrew

      That’s a really good idea re Karl. Won’t happen, but good idea nonetheless.