A very disappointing night for the Denver Nuggets. The boys in blue played much better, but it still was not enough as another second half rally fell short.
|Kenneth Faried, F 26 MIN | 5-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -14
Faried continues to battle every minute he is on the court and he has been the most consistent Nugget in the two games. I have no idea why the Lakers do not post Gasol up when Faried is guarding him. Sadly, instead of his first career playoff double-double, this game will be remembered for his two costly turnovers and a couple of other mental mistakes in the closing minutes. Also, his six offensive rebounds are fantastic, but only four defensive rebounds is problematic.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 5-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -14
Gallinari wants to be a go-to scorer for Denver, but even without Metta World Peace hounding him Gallo had an atrocious shooting night. He puts forth effort on defense and he set a new career high with four offensive rebounds. Denver needs him to do more than shoot on offense. Zero assists is unacceptable.
|Kosta Koufos, C 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -13
Kosta is pretty much a non factor. He rebounded well and did his best to body up with Bynum, but it is clear Karl does not have much faith in him as he never reenters the game after his initial stint to start each half.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 31 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -12
Just when you thought things could not get worse for AAA he played possibly his worst offensive game of the season. I think all five of his threes were uncontested and he was trying to hard to score, in his many pointless forays up the floor and into the paint with the ball he was so focused on shooting he missed numerous opportunities to set a teammate up with a decent look. Defensively, he did as well as could be expected on Kobe. The Black Mamba was on fire and no one was going to look good checking him tonight.
|Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 11-17 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 25 PTS | +1
After an uninspired first half, Lawson finally found his game. He did a very good job of penetrating and running. He also appeared to learn his lesson from game one as he used his pull up jumper to get good looks and he only over penetrated once. Defensively he was unremarkable, but solid. As long as Lawson can continue his aggressive and effective play, the Nuggets have a chance of winning a game in Denver.
|Al Harrington, PF 22 MIN | 4-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | +16
Al has one gear and one gear only on offense. He was very aggressive in looking for his shot and it paid off early with a couple of made threes, but after that things got ugly. Harrington only converted one of his final nine attempts and when Al is not scoring, he is not helping.
|Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 0 PTS | +9
Andre was not able to score the way he has in the previous two games against the Lakers, but he continued to find teammates for open looks and was constantly looking up the floor to get the ball to whoever was running out in transition. Miller also played hard on defense and drew a crucial charge on a possession late in the game after rotating from one side of the floor to the other.
|Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 5-7 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +4
Brewer brought his fantastic energy and made enough good plays it sure seemed like he was on the court for more than 19 minutes. He forced three steals and ran the floor hard as always. He was abused by Kobe in the few minutes he covered him due to his lack of girth, which made it difficult to keep him on the floor more than 19 minutes.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 11 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +5
It boggles my mind why George Karl plays Mozgov when Bynum is not on the court. Mozgov had another typical Mozgov game. He played good post defense, but as several readers have pointed out, he does not rebound as well as Koufos and McGee nabbing only two defensive rebounds in his 11 minutes. Mozgov did convert on a couple of offensive boards, but his feathery soft jumper has left him further reducing his effectiveness on offense.
|JaVale McGee, C 24 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | -2
Hopefully McGee found his playoff legs in game two. After missing his first two shots including a very easy layup he finally made a field goal and converted on two of his final four shots. As the game wore on McGee’s confidence grew. He really controlled the paint in the fourth quarter on defense blocking five Laker shots, including two from Bynum in a five minute span. McGee also pulled down six defensive rebounds to lead the team. McGee is the one Nugget who can handle LA’s length at both ends and the Nuggets could really benefit from a confidence building outing like this one.
Game Two Wrap-Up and Additional Nuggets (by Charlie)
That is the problem with moral victories. While the Nuggets avoided another game one debacle with much better effort and execution, they still lose a game they can feel good about and fall into a 0-2 series hole against the Lakers. The team that wins the first two of a seven game series goes on to win the series 94% of the time.
It kind of makes you wonder if there actually was anything to feel good about after all.
Truthfully, the Nuggets executed their game plan and challenged the Lakers for the first time all series. While the Nuggets never led and the Lakers seemed to be cruising to another easy win, Denver kept fighting back and remained resilient under increasingly dire circumstances.
Denver scored 30 fast break points, 60 points in the paint, and 21 points off turnovers – besting the Lakers in all three categories and following a formula that should have led a Nuggets victory. It still wasn’t enough as Kobe dominated the game and the Lakers size once again proved too much for the inexperienced Nuggets to handle.
Denver could not make an open shot all night. The starting lineup was once again so anemic and dysfunctional on both ends of the court that it seemed like the Lakers were constantly nursing a double-digit lead. Ty Lawson showed up with a breakout playoff performance, but everyone else regressed as the Nuggets just couldn’t get everyone on the same page at once.
It seemed like Denver played their game tonight, but the margin of error is just way too small to overcome. Lose track of Kobe for a couple possessions? A five-point deficit suddenly becomes 12. Miss a wide open jumper while making a run? The entire team goes cold. Play great defense and force a contested three at the end of the shot clock? The defensive rebound bounces the other way and becomes a dagger.
It was just that type of night. Denver did a lot of good things and unlike game one, there are some genuine positives to take away and some real adjustments to make that should help the Nuggets improve going forward. Unfortunately, that 94% cloud hangs over the remainder of the series as Denver faces an uphill battle and a slim margin for error that is now nonexistent. Literally everything has to go perfect and luck has to factor in for Denver to get back in this.
We’ll discuss the adjustments that need to made soon, like the atrocious starting lineup and the game of musical chairs at the Center position that has seen the Nuggets throw two unproductive stiffs at the most menacing front line in the NBA. In, the meantime, it’s best to take a little break before realizing the gravity of what the Nuggets are now facing heading back to Denver with an 0-2 series deficit.