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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Nuggets vs Lakers – Lakers Defensive Philosophy

The Los Angeles Lakers are a very good defensive team.  A big part of that is they do a good job of forcing their opponent to go to their second and third option on offense thus encouraging their opponent attempt low percentage shots.  Against the Nuggets L.A. will attempt to pack the paint and close off the driving lanes to the basket.  As a result the Nuggets will be able to get open looks from the perimeter, but they are low percentage shots.  In the following Roundball Mining Company Denver Nuggets Film Room segment you can see the Lakers’ philosophy of remove the first option and close off the lane in action.

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