Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 87 Los Angeles Lakers 96

Los Angeles Lakers 96 Final
Recap | Box Score
87 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -19 The Manimal was fantastic and helped allay my fears that he could not handle the Lakers size. He showed he is not afraid of anyone and will not back down from a challenge. In the fourth quarter Faried was completely overmatched by Gasol and had to be removed. Faried has a fantastic career ahead of him, but his lack of size is going to be an issue for Denver.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 26 MIN | 1-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 3 PTS | -12 I have been frustrated with Gallo all series long, earlier in the season he was very good at not forcing shots, since his return from his thumb injury he has been settling for jumpers off the dribble out of iso sets. He was awful from start to finish and MWP gets a lot of credit for that. I have no idea why Karl reinserted him in the game in the middle of the fourth as Gallo continued to be worthless. Hopefully this is a learning experience and a building block for Gallo to use as he matures and not a sign of what is to come in the future.
Timofey Mozgov, C 15 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -8 We got what we expected from Mozgov, solid D, and nothing else. He did his job, but it will be interesting to see what the Nuggets do with him this offseason. In the NFL you can stockpile defensive backs if you play in the same division as the Lions or Saints, in the NBA you cannot keep a player on your roster just because he can defend Andrew Bynum for a few minutes.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -10 When the Lakers pushed their lead up to 9 in the second, it was Afflalo who led the charge back with four quick points, in the second half, he was nowhere to be found until he made a three with less than two minutes left to keep a sliver of hope alive. Afflalo played solid defense against Kobe, who was oddly passive, but Afflalo showed that despite the growth he made this season, he is still only a complimentary player on offense.
Ty Lawson, PG 42 MIN | 11-19 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 24 PTS | -6 Ty came out firing, but the Lakers began making him the focus of the defense, the Lakers bigs were more aggressive hedging and challenging him off screens and it made it difficult for him to get to the lane. When Denver was able to loosen up the game and run in the second half, Lawson had a great few minutes. When the game tightened up, LA got tougher on Ty again and he was not able to carry Denver to a win.
Al Harrington, PF 29 MIN | 9-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 24 PTS | +6 I felt bad for Harrington who had such a solid season that he was struggling due to injuries. He deserved better and finally was able to put his mark on a game scoring 24 points. Sadly, he was not able to hit a big shot when Denver needed it most not to mention his meager two rebounds in 29 minutes.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 1-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 11 REB | 8 AST | 3 PTS | +0 There are nights when you feel like Steve Blake and nights when your shot is just not falling. Miller could not find the net to save his life, but instead of becoming a non factor, like a person who loses one of their five senses, he augmented what he had to work with. Miller hit the boards and did his best to set up teammates. He made the best of a bad situation. As a Karl favorite I suspect Miller will be back, but if this is his last game as a Nugget, he went down swinging.
Corey Brewer, SF 13 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +1 You had a feeling after his unconscious shooting display in game six, he would be hard pressed to repeat that offensive output. With Denver struggling to score and Brewer having lost his hot hand Karl could not afford to keep him on the court. The one thing Brewer brings, energy, was not an issue for Denver tonight so his role was diminished.
JaVale McGee, C 32 MIN | 1-7 FG | 4-6 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +3 Mcgee had to great games out of seven. That is either hope for the future or a sign of what he will always be. Nene drove Nuggets fans crazy with his inconsistency, and McGee is no remedy to that issue. Still, McGee showed improved post defense, rebounded the ball very well and his ability to block and alter shots is undeniable. On a night Denver needed to get some easy buckets around the rim, McGee was AWOL.

It was all a (Nuggets) dream

After Thursday’s surreal Game 6 victory against the Lakers I was dead set on writing some kind of piece about the experience. But because I didn’t get a chance to take notes, I realized a traditional recap was going to be hard to come by. After mulling over several, more creative ideas for a post, I decided writing a poem might be the best way to summarize whatever memories remained from Thursday. Sticking with the Notorious B.I.G. theme I introduced on Wednesday (which has since become contagious), I give you, It Was All a (Nuggets) Dream, by yours truly.


Land O’ Lakers chat

Once again I joined Andrew Kamenetzky of ESPNLA.com’s Land O’ Lakers blog to discuss Game 6 and whether the series is going, going, back, back, to Cali, Cali.

Reasons to be Excited for Game Six

I have been chided for being negative and pessimistic.  To me the negative is simply providing objective analysis.  As far as pessimistic, well, you’ve got me there.  I have been a fan of the Nuggets for roughly two and a half decades.  My personal conclusion is that Nuggets fan and optimist are mutually exclusive.

However, heading into game six I have objectively found several reasons why Nuggets fans can feel optimistic encouraged about Denver’s chances to force a game seven.


Additional Game 5 notes: Going, going, back, back, to Denver, Denver

On Tuesday night the Nuggets did something they haven’t done in three years: play great basketball in the playoffs. Although the team won several games since its historic run to the Western Conference Finals in 2009, there was always something missing in those wins. They were hollow — strictly for the sake of putting a “W” on paper and not one in the hearts of their fans. Tuesday was different. On Tuesday, the Nuggets weren’t playing for a “W”; they were playing for the city of Denver, its fans and the pride of both.


Land O’ Lakers chat

I once again joined up with Andrew Kamenetzky of ESPNLA’s Land O’ Lakers blog to chat about Game 4 and what we might see in Game 5. Here is the transcript.

Keys to extending the series

There was nothing more surprising in Game 4 than how easily the Lakers won. Not easy as in, playing the Charlotte Bobcats easy… but rather, easy as in… they played slow, uninspired basketball for about 46 minutes and still ended up winning without doing anything special. Some may say the Nuggets handed the victory to the Lakers, but I see it differently. Usually when a team hands over the game to its opponent, there is visible frustration or a dazed glare in the player’s eyes as if they’re in disbelief of what’s happening. On Sunday, the Nuggets didn’t show any of these signs. It was as if they didn’t even realize what was actually going on until the game had finally concluded — something eerily similar to what we’ve seen all season long.


Rapid Reaction: L.A. Lakers 92, Denver Nuggets 88

Los Angeles Lakers 92 Final

Recap | Box Score

88 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 32 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -1
You have two options with Faried: either look at his stat line and excuse it as inexperience and being outmatched, or argue that it’s simply not good enough regardless of whether he’s a rookie or 10-year pro. I chose the latter. Faried showed in Game 3 that he’s more than capable of hitting the glass hard in a playoff game against much taller opponents. In Game 4 he was nowhere to be found. Seven boards are routine; six points is even worse. Faried did play good defense on Gasol but this was largely overshadowed by the fact that he was in terrible position to rebound the entire night. Faried must prove himself again in Game 5.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 9-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | -11
If not for the flop that essentially ended the game, Gallinari likely would have received an A-plus. For the most part Gallinari was spectacular. He hit one jump shot after another and outside of Andre Miller was the only guy looking to score in an aggressive manner. His defense on Kobe should not be overlooked either. He played a large role in limiting Kobe down the stretch and keeping the game close as a result.
Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -7
How are you supposed to grade Mozgov? Somebody inform me. He played solid post defense — like always — but was pretty unstable in every other aspect of the game. When he remained in for about five minutes to start the second half the Lakers immediately climbed their way back into the game which ended up being a huge momentum swing. While Mozgov does play better against the Lakers, I still think Koufos is a more reliable option, all things considered.
Arron Afflalo, SG 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | +1
After scoring over 15 points in all but one game during the month of April, Afflalo has now failed to score over 11 this entire series. It’s clear that guarding Kobe is taking a toll on him. His legs are probably tired, and as a result, prevent him from knocking down shots or being aggressive the way he usually is. He is 2-11 from downtown this series which is keeping the Nuggets from hitting momentum-changing 3-pointers like the Lakers — who aren’t a good outside shooting team — have in several games already. The bottom line is that Afflalo is an essential part of the Nuggets core, and without his given 15-plus points per game, the Nuggets are a different, much worse team.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | +1
While he’s still averaging 17 points per game in the series as a whole, Lawson’s inconsistency is bothersome. Even if he had scored five more points this game, it would have been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Nuggets. Though he wasn’t exactly timid, he also wasn’t the definition of “threatening” either. If Lawson can bounce back in Game 5 and somehow lead the Nuggets to victory, his weaker performances can be overlooked — after all, inconsistency is a part of basketball. But if he has yet another sub-par outing, it will likely be back to the Trading Machine for Nuggets fans across the globe.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -4
Harrington hit one big 3-pointer but otherwise spent most of his time being abuse by Bynum or Gasol in the post. That’s not really his fault however. Even against the most talented power forward-center duo in the league Karl continues to play Harrington out of position. There’s just not much he can do against Gasol and Bynum defensively. He tries, but he just isn’t effective. On offense, he couldn’t get his shot to fall either. It would have been nice to see him take a few less shots but none were atrocious in terms of location or selection. In the end, Big Al still deserves a round of applause for fighting through a broken nose and still giving it his all for Nuggets Nation.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -1
We’ve been critical of Miller for his selfish style of play, but in games like these it can really pay off. While most of his teammates stood around kicking the dirt with their hands in their pockets, Miller got to work from the start and never let up. Not once did he hesitate to take advantage of a smaller defender in the post and was quick to get any sort of offense going once the Nuggets made it past halfcourt. Had he waited just a fraction of a second longer for the tip-in that was called a goaltend, the outcome of this game could have been different.
Corey Brewer, SF 13 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -3
Brewer was energetic, hit some unbelievable shots and played stingy defense on whoever he was guarding. His hands, especially, were like little mini tornadoes. They were constantly moving in a flurry, and whenever the ball came near, it seemed to get deflected out of his opponent’s hands in some way or another. Brewer should have received more than 13 minutes as he was playing extremely well and just seemed to be having “one of those nights.”
JaVale McGee, C 27 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +5
McGee is another tough grade to dish out. On one hand, his paint presence alone means so much the Nuggets. He’s young, still maturing and learning every step of the way. At the same time, four rebounds in 27 minutes of action is extremely weak for a center as tall and athletic as McGee. The Lakers killed the Nuggets on the glass in Game 4, creating 10 extra possessions as a result. Had the Nuggets cut that number in half, this game would have been a different story. His paint presence — as evident by the four blocks — is a fantastic asset to have, but without rebounding it’s never going to be utilized the way it should be.

Land O’ Lakers chat

Yesterday I caught up with ESPNLA’s Andy Kamenetzky to talk Nuggets-Lakers and how JaVale McGee is surprisingly similar to Wilt Chamberlain. Yes, you heard that correctly. Weird. Follow the link for further details.

Who Should Play and When? [Updated]

With the Denver Nuggets trailing the Los Angeles Lakers 2-0 in their best of seven first round matchup there have been a lot of questions regarding what the Nuggets need to do in order to get back into the series.

One of the most consistent points of contention between Nuggets fans all season long has been regarding the lineups and rotations.  That debate has only intensified over the previous two games.  Do the Nuggets need to go small and try to run the Lakers off the court? Do they need to go big to try to match LA’s size?  Should Miller and Lawson play together?  Some think Koufos should be benched, others think he is doing fine and Mozgov should be left to rot on the pine.

The truth is there simply is not enough information to make an informed decision meaning no one can honestly say he has the answer to any of these questions.


Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 100 Los Angeles Lakers 104

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.


Additional Game 1 notes

There was quite a bit to see in Game 1 of the Nuggets first-rounds series against the Lakers. Though we covered most of it in the Rapid Reaction recap, there were still a few notes that went unpublished… until now. Here is some additional food for thought before the Nuggets tee off against the Lakers in Game 2, tonight at 10:30 p.m. EST.


Film Room: Scoring in the Paint Versus the Lakers

The Denver Nuggets live on points in the paint.  In game 1 of their playoff series with the Los Angeles Lakers, they had no problem getting into the paint, what they had a problem with was scoring once they got there.  The story of the game was the triple double by Andrew Bynum who completely controlled the lane defensively for the Lakers.

All hope is not lost; the Nuggets need to simply do a better job of taking advantage of the times they get in the lane.  Denver finished with 44 points in the paint, a respectable total, but when you consider how many more points they could have had if they did not offer up so many meek attempts that were thrown back, there is hope Denver can get their offense back on track.  In the Film Room session below, we take a look at what Denver must do to improve their offense in the paint.


5-on-5: Lakers preview

In Roundball Mining Company’s latest edition of our 5-on-5 series we discuss what’s on everyone’s mind: Lakers vs. Nuggets. In addition to our normal trio of contributors (Jeremy, Charlie and I), we’ve asked Brain Kamenetzky of ESPN’s Land O’Lakers blog and Roundball reader Logan Wright to chip in with their take on the series as well.


Film Room: Mozgov vs Bynum

The most difficult matchup for the Denver Nuggets in their playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers is Andrew Bynum.  Bynum is the dominant offensive center in the NBA and the Nuggets must make sure that he does not score at will.  Unlike in the past when the Nuggets bigs consisted of Nene, Birdman and Kenyon Martin, Denver has plenty of size to attempt to matchup with Bynum and Pau Gasol.

Out of Denver’s four centers, the one who does the best defending Bynum is Timofey Mozgov.  In the Film Room segment below I have strung together six clips from the April 13 game where Mozgov is defending Bynum.


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