Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Lakers 103, Denver Nuggets 97

Denver Nuggets 97 FinalRecap | Box Score 103 Los Angeles Lakers
Kenneth Faried, F 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -12
Faried struggled defending Gasol early on but was still effective in nearly all other aspects of the game. He saw only a few minutes in the second half, which is a bit perplexing given how strong the “Manimal” has been playing lately.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 2-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -14
Gallinari was terrible. There’s no other way around it. I was shocked to look at the box score and see that he logged 27 minutes, as he was only visible for about three of those. He refused to drive, took nothing but pull-up jump shots and didn’t find any ways to contribute otherwise. It’s hard to pinpoint his problem was, but something was up. I can’t remember Gallinari having a game this bad in a really long time.
Kosta Koufos, C 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Koufos may have gotten injured as he didn’t see any time after he was yanked in the first quarter. During his eight minutes he was getting thoroughly abused by Bynum but Koufos is better than he showed and might have been able to improve as the game progressed.
Arron Afflalo, SG 39 MIN | 7-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | +1
This was a mixed bag for Afflalo. He missed a key technical free throw, the last two shots of the game and saw Matt Barnes go off for a season high 24 points. However he still had some great offensive possessions and finished the night with an impressive stat line.
Ty Lawson, PG 29 MIN | 4-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -8
I hate to give Ty such a low grade, but I have no choice. This is the exact type of game where Lawson must step up — and he didn’t. He’s one of the Nuggets best two players (maybe the best) and was nowhere to be seen. So what if you’re having a bad shooting night or are intimidated by the Lakers big men, you still have to find a way to put you imprint on the game and pose as a threat, otherwise you’re useless. This might be the most disappointing performance Lawson has had all year given what was at stake.
Al Harrington, PF 27 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +2
Harrington deserves nothing short of an A. Even with a torn meniscus he was out there battling as hard as anybody, playing with passion and enthusiasm that’s been sorely lacking for the Nuggets all year. He made a number of big shots down the stretch and had his offensive repertoire on full display throughout the evening. Truly a gusty performance by the veteran.
Andre Miller, PG 32 MIN | 9-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 20 PTS | +5
This is Miller’s first A+ since the beginning of the season. He was a wrecking ball on offense, not backing down from anybody. While most of the Nuggets were AWOL, Miller was on the front line bravely attacking anyone and everyone who was in his way. If he played with this type of verve every night the Nuggets would probably be sitting about three spots higher in the standings. Nonetheless, this was a spectacular showing from Miller in a very important game.
Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | +2
Another tough grade. Brewer played great defense most of the night — his hands were constantly disrupting the Lakers offense, his hustle was admirable — but he still finished with zero points in 19 minutes of action and missed countless opportunities that would have given the Nuggets the momentum needed to finally take the lead. Brewer’s inability to score the rock has become a big problem lately. Even if he plays solid defense it’s just not worth having him in the game if he can’t even score a few points.
Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
People were praising Mozgov for his defense on Bynum in the late second and early third quarter. While his defense was superb, it’s important to note that the Lakers lead grew by over 10 with him in the game (with all the other starters playing alongside him, mind you), and this was after the Nuggets had pulled within three to close the first half. So while it was nice to see Mozgov get some run, it’s important we analyze both sides of the coin with his performance.
JaVale McGee, C 28 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | +8
McGee played really well, all things considered. It would have been nice if to see him play better one-on-one defense against Bynum, but it’s not as if he got bulldozed by him either. On offense McGee displayed a great short game inside the paint and collected a team-high 10 boards in the process. His frustrating moments will undoubtedly continue, but it seems as if he’s limiting them as much as possible, which is a credit to the excellent coaching job of Melvin Hunt.

Additional Thoughts:

A lot happened in this game. I tweeted before it started how it was very winnable without Kobe Bryant, but the Lakers came out and played great as a team — you can’t take that away from them.

What jumped out most from the start was the Lakers defense in contrast with the Nuggets effort on that same side of the floor. All game long the Lakers played with a high focus and energy level on defense, while the Nuggets only did so for about one quarter. Again, this has become THE story of the Nuggets season. Yes, injuries haven’t been kind, but like I’ve always said, every team has to deal with injuries — that’s just part of the game. If the Nuggets actually came prepared with a solid defensive scheme every night, injuries could be overcome; instead, everything must be perfectly aligned for the Nuggets to be successful.

One embarrassing aspect of the Nuggets already embarrassing defense is their half-hearted attempt to double players that don’t need to be doubled. Remember in Austin Powers when Fat Bastard confesses, “I eat because I’m unhappy and I’m unhappy because I eat”? That type of vicious cycle can be applied to the Nuggets defense. They don’t play good man-to-man defense, and thus, can’t defend the opponent’s best player — so they decide to double. But when they double they eliminate the point of doubling by not truly cutting off the outlet passing lane, which leads to the opponent kicking the ball out to a wide open teammate who usually scores anyways. In the end, the opponent ends up scoring no matter what and it all comes back to the Nuggets inability to come prepared with a solid defensive scheme and play one-on-one defense.

By doubling, nothing gets solved. In fact, it actually exacerbates the Nuggets problems even more as the opponent almost always ends up with a clean look, which in turn demoralizes the Nuggets confidence on the defensive side of the ball. At one point during the game the Nuggets actually quadruple-teamed Andrew Bynum which I’ve never seen before in the NBA. Yes, Bynum was playing great on Friday but let’s keep in mind, this is only Andrew Bynum were talking about. He’s a good player, but one you simply have to live with if he decides to go off. Instead of doubling, keep fresh bodies on him, try to get him frustrated (which Bynum usually will) and make it absolutely paramount to deny him the ball in the post. Easier said than done perhaps, but still a much less risky plan that doubling.

As always when the Nuggets lose, Karl is the topic of conversation. Against the Lakers he made his fair share of perplexing decisions, most obviously benching Faried and Gallo for much of the second half. Here’s the problem with that: Faried and Gallinari are without question two of the best players on the Nuggets roster. They’re to the Nuggets what Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are to the Spurs. These are guys you simply must have in during the closing minutes of the game no matter how badly they’ve played up to that point. Gallinari’s minutes were given to Brewer, who played good defense but couldn’t do anything on offense, which virtually made his presence on the floor a wash. And that’s what’s difficult to grasp: Faried and Gallinari are also two of the Nuggets better defenders. Having them in the game is a win-win situation no matter what. The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla tweeted about this after the game.

Where Karl undoubtedly deserves credit is with his passion. Honestly, and this is no exaggeration, in the third quarter when he received a technical for jumping off the bench and nearly biting the referee’s head off — that was the most enthusiasm I’ve seen from Karl during his entire tenure with the Nuggets. I truly thought he was going to get thrown out of the game. Though Karl’s decision-making and micromanagement skills can drive you up a wall at times, what’s always got under my skin is his nonchalant, no-urgency, “I’m fine with losing” attitude. You see and hear it during press conferences, in interviews and in games as well, when he’ll do nothing but put his head in his hands or seem to accept losing as inevitable. If he coached every game with as much animation as he did on Friday, fans would be about a million times more lenient with him than they currently are because at least they know he cares about winning as much as they do.

Overall, while this game was winnable, it’s tough to knock the Nuggets too hard. The Lakers played great and so did the Nuggets for most of the second half. People were really trying, especially on defense, and made a point of running when they could. It’s imperative the Nuggets win as many games as possible from here on out as avoiding the Spurs and Thunder should be atop the priority list.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

Latest posts by Kalen Deremo (see all)

  • http://www.swag.com Gerardo

    I don’t know why brewer was in the game in crunch time he didn’t do anything.. I don’t know who was guarding Barnes it was either brewer or harrington but when you let him go off you deserve to lose.. and Ty again way to timid… I’ve accepted the fact that this team won’t get any better or make a run in the playoffs maybe win a game or two as long as Geroge Karl is coaching and I’m still watching this team because I love it to death… But It’s just to frustrating…

    • http://www.swag.com Gerardo

      I guess we have to wait till Josh Kronke grows a pair and fires him…

  • Porter

    Bynum had a good game… why not… no one to stop him.
    Faried was productive… but he had to sit on bench most of the game. And Chris…. hope for you a coach who will appreciate you soon… some of the other players were contributing… but Bynum was loving having his way. so say you……

  • Branden

    Barnes is trashhhhh
    I’m happy George Karl at least attempted to stay big with McGee
    I see why he won’t play faried at crunch though cuz Harrington Iss soooo valuable at scoring and we need him…. Here’s my problem though why in the hell was brewer instead of Lawson I know brewer got great D but he is a liability on O even though gallo didn’t play well I still would have like to seen George Karl put him in to get his confidence back up… Any word on chandler?

    • ryanvdonk

      wish they would have played big al at the 3 to end the game, give faried more minutes, and a BIG lineup.

      • Branden

        Then what would happen to afflalo he stay at 2? Cuz even though miller played great today I still would have Lawson in over him
        So ur saying either Lawson or miller at the 1 2. Afflalo 3.harrington 4.faried 5. McGee
        I actually like that alot but I know George Karl will never see tht smh
        What about gallo when he gets back into rhythm?!

  • Branden

    Barnes is trashhhhh
    I’m happy George Karl at least attempted to stay big with McGee
    I see why he won’t play faried at crunch though cuz Harrington Iss soooo valuable at scoring and we need him…. Here’s my problem though why in the hell was brewer instead of Lawson I know brewer got great D but he is a liability on O even though gallo didn’t play well I still would have like to seen George Karl put him in to get his confidence back up… Any word on chandler?

  • HD

    Good news mozgov played with some urgency and really look good out there tonight.

  • john

    to all the guys saying brewer shouldn’t be in during the crunch you obviously don’t understand defense. That is something brewer definitely understand that guys like Al Harrington don’t. Al Harrington can score, but on defense he is a massive liability. Mainly because he is an undersized power forward who can’t rebound which is why we always get destroyed on the boards at the end of games. Next year I think the lineup at the end of games will be something like: Ty, AAA, Gallo, Faried and McGee. This lineup in my opinion would do far better than our normal lineup at the end of games which is typically something like: Ty, Andre, AAA, Faried and Harrington.

  • ryanvdonk

    biggest things i noticed, javale and mozzy both played with energy and intensity. while both had some trouble earlier on against the LA bigs, they were able to make adjustments and slow down bynum from the tear he was on. kosta was just abused, too slow and not athletic enough to play against bynum.

    and i LOVED seeing gorge get fired up on the sidelines, getting that TECH was the most emotion he’s shown all year and reminded me of his seattle days, where he’d get thrown out of games and showed all sorts of fire that his teams reflected (which is what happened tonight)

    • Branden

      When we doubled the bigs of la they couldn’t pass out of the play or get a good shot In the 2nd half I really liked how they hand their hands all over the ball when la went in the paint

    • KW

      I also appreciated GKs fire. The line ups were bizarre at times but Coach did do some of the things that I have been wondering about. Tonight I could actually see what Denver was trying to do on D.

  • MarcP

    Terrible time management from Denver coaching staff. How can faired not see another minute in the final 18 minutes of the game. If you aren’t going to play him in crunch time (where he often delivers) at least play him at the end of the third/ start of fourth. Karl or whoever is responsible for this needs to go because while he might be a decent coach his game management is inexcuseably terrible game in game out. I’d love to see Stan van Gundy coach this team next year.

  • al68

    Muy bien Modgov en defensa a ver si le recuperamos, buen partido de miller excepto los ultimos minutos.ç

    Con Gallo y Afflalo el movimiento de balon se termina y la posibilidad de buenos tiros disminuye que es lo que teniamos de bueno al comienzo de temporada.

    Mcgee me parece que tiene mejores estadisticas de lo que es, al principio ni defensa ni ataque porque cada vez que le dan el balon dentro se sabe que no va a volver si mete el tiro bien si no pésimo.

    Harrington ha cumplido como casi siempre, mientras que Lawson no sabe leer los partidos cuando se le tuerce le cuesta mucho reaccionar.

    Creo que con el equipo que tenemos ahora con las lesiones de Chandler, Fdez se pierde mucha calidad ofensiva y defensiva, y nuestras posibilidades incluso de jugar playoffs son pocas.

  • ny nugs fan

    was not feeling that starting line-up; got off to horrible atart and really never recovered

    listen the nugs should come up w a plan to try to *win* the next three games (rockets rockets clippers); how can we use *all* of our bench and team to put together three consecutive wins and solidify a higher playoff status; players coaches….

    win the next three and stop the mediocrity

    • GK4Prez

      When is the last time this team won 3 games in a row, they were lucky to pull out a 2 game winning streak, but I don’t see this squad winning 3 in a row anytime soon, rarely do they even put a full 48 minutes together. If anything, they will get lucky and lose their way into the playoffs.

      Split with the rockets, probably should take the magic with D12 out, and hopefully they can take Minny in Minny that would get them to 35 wins and would probably be good enough for the 8th seed, but I don’t expect much more than this from this team.

      • Kyle Obergfell

        I think this makes 21 games now…

        that the Nuggets haven’t had a three game streak of any kind.

        That says a lot about something… I’m not totally sure
        exactly what.. but that’s just too weird not to wonder about.

  • Ackermann

    UP Down UP Down UP Down, Injury bad-Coaching Injury Bad-Coaching…….Beat the best loss to the worst……….. Sounds like young talented”immature” team they never go far in playoffs but could up set some one………. just Maybe for one series!
    HAHA it is what it is,

    Wish more of u blogers played higher level of ball then High school b4 u think u know how to run a team or coach ;)

    • Ernie

      And I wish you would stop posting this same message over and over again.

    • Desean

      Don’t read the blog then jackass

  • Kyle Obergfell

    11 posts.

    The Nuggets team aren’t the only ones losing reasons to care.

    I think the kid gloves have to come off for Koufos.

    Everyone is hoping so much that he will come along.
    How long are we supposed to wait on this while we
    gently pander him on with platitudes?

    And there is disparate treatment here across the board.
    I could see Lawson’s D+…
    but Affalo continues to seem so teflon.

    Aron Affalo is just… not…. all… that.

    He just seems sanctified.
    He does get props for stamina… that really really really
    stands out this year.

    But at the same time.. all these games with near 40 minutes
    and just nothing but mediocrity to show for it.

    He is just not all that.

    I’m glad to see Andre Miller finally getting some love after
    the hate fest on him all season.

    And last but very much least….

    George Karl.

    Brewer is his boy. He loves his boy.
    His boy keeps getting chance after chance.
    I agree with the obvious that his lineups and
    timing are just beyond the imagination for
    what ever he is thinking..

    It’s way past the point now..
    but really…
    how are you not going to play Birdman with
    these ongoing results?

    Maybe the emotion and passion and intensity
    are all signs that he knows he is floundering.
    Yeah.. it’s good to know that he doesn’t like it…

    but that doesn’t make the lack of insight any
    less troubling to me.

    • ryanvdonk

      i actually am in agreement about afflalo and brewer. both are great energy players who give it on both ends of the floor, but i think we are seeing their limitations and what their ceilings can be. brewer needs to learn to knock down open jumpers, and we are seeing about the best AAA can give, partly at the cost of his defense. i think what should happen is to see hamilton come off the bench, he’s far more offensively talented than either and has shown to give effort on defense and a knack for cleaning up the boards. giving him some time will give him confidence, give aaron some more rest so he can bring it on both ends the whole time he is in, and make it clear that while energy is good we’re not going to accept mediocre play from brewer.

  • DH

    I was a little puzzled by some things that GK did, but I have to give him somewhat of a pass on this one. When your two best players (arguably) – Ty and Gallo – don’t show up, it doesn’t give you a lot of options.

    The main thing that I questioned while it was happening was sticking with his closing lineup for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked that he stayed with a lineup that was working (especially one that had a true center). But that group played a LONG time and I felt like their legs would give out at some point. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But shots weren’t falling at the end. Miller and Harrington (our two oldest players – one playing with a serious injury) played straight through the last quarter and a half. The others played nearly as long. I thought he would sub each of them out for a minute or two, to try to keep them fresh.

    I was also surprised when he took Faried out so quickly in the 3rd quarter. And I was really surprised when he never got back in the game. At the very least, he could have given Al a breather.

    And about half way through the 4th quarter, I started wondering when GK would pull Brewer. I thought Brewer did some good things (better than a D+, IMHO), but I would have put Gallo back in, even though he hadn’t shown anything up to that point.

    As I mentioned in the beginning, though, George was in a tough spot. The Lakers are hard enough to match up with under normal circumstances. When certain key players don’t seem to be anywhere near their “A game”, there’s not a lot you can do.

    Last thing… I don’t normally quibble with the player grades. It’s all pretty subjective. But Matt Barnes outplayed AAA, and that can’t happen. I know they weren’t always matched up with each other. But at the end of the day, Afflalo still has to have the better game, one way or another. So I just couldn’t give him any higher than a “C”, even if his stats say he deserves better.

  • evan

    Kalen, I can answer your questions.

    Kennith Faried cannot play with McGee, it does not work. Kennith was being out played by a all-star power forward, Gasol who can shoot over him, just like he did by dirk. It’s a pretty obvious decision to bench him especially when McGee is playing really well.

    Also, Galo his time didn’t necessarily go to brewer’s as much as it went to Harrington. Obviously George Karl saw that Harrington, who has been the most consistent Nugget this year, as you wrote last game, and is a real leader, one who can bring a team back into a game and put him in over a rusty, out of shape Galo who was playing horrible with no will to win at all. Also Harrington is a very underrated defensive player.

    With Kennith Faried and Gallo in the game, the nuggets do not come back at all in the 4th, and get beat by 15 points.
    Players win games, coaches lose them. Karl Didn’t lose this game, the players just didn’t win it.

    Cut the man some slack, he’s doing a pretty good job. Every other team with the combination of so many changes, youth, and inexperience and the schedule too is well below .500 and out of the playoffs.

    The Nuggets are the best team in the National Basketball Association. They’re just waiting till the play-offs to show it!!

    • HD

      You are a very smart guy, I agree 100%.