The Nuggets had the option to make this the game where they lost Melo or a rallying point.
It is going to be the game where they lost Melo (though hopefully for only a short period of time).
In the Game Thread I mentioned at halftime that with Melo out AI would be tempted to try to take over, but in order for the Nuggets to be successful, he would have to share the ball. If he came out playing unselfishly and worked to get everyone involved it would loosen up the Lakers defense and allow him to up for him to look more for his own shot later on.
Halfway through the third quarter the Nuggets went on an inspired run to take a lead thanks to running the floor and sharing the ball. The Lakers responded with some threes and when the Laker lead got back up to six or eight AI started trying to force his offense. The Nuggets stopped scoring and Derek Fisher continued to be red hot from three point land.
The Nuggets run that saw them climb from a 74-61 deficit to a 79-77 lead were passing and penetration. Combine that with some hot shooting from Camby, who made a couple of jumpers, and Kleiza who made a three and a couple of fast break opportunities and the Nuggets were rolling. Martin and Camby even got into the act driving the lane and throwing down huge dunks.
Their offense was effective because they passed and moved the ball form side to side. You may get somewhat of an advantage off of a pick, but you can get a greater advantage by making the defense move from side to side and guard the entire court for a longer period of time.
The Lakers went on a little run and under pressure the Nuggets got away from what they were doing during their comeback. After the Lakers got back up by six or eight and began trying to impose his will.
Actually the Lakers run ended up being more like a big run and the Nuggets were never able to get close again.
The Lakers have proven what we already knew, they are better than the Nuggets. We cannot know what would have happened had Melo not sprained his ankle, but I doubt the result would have been any different.
Other Observations From Game 40:
- Looking at the replay of Melo’s injury I think he will miss at least the next couple of games. He did come down on the side of his ankle, but he fell backwards instead of staying on it until he could shift his weight. Hopefully he was able to get his weight off of it before serious damage occurred.
- The Nuggets may have lost Melo, but we have a Steven Hunter sighting. That is a pretty good deal if you ask me. Now that Hunter has shown he is ready for some court time, the Nuggets should be OK without Carmelo now that Hunter is back. Or not.
- I never noticed this before, but now that Sasha Vujacic has grown his hair out, and apparently stopped washing it, he looks like Luis Scola’s little brother. I wonder if I stole Sasha’s Cosmopolitan money would Scola show up at my door and threaten to beat me up?
- When Iverson has a clear lane to the basket he is deadly, but when he has to try to thread his way between defenders he frequently ends up taking a very tough shot (or gets fouled). If AI will give the ball up, let it go to the other side and then come back to him he will get that clear driving lane much more often and things will be much easier for him and the Nuggets.
- J.R. Smith was a complete non factor tonight. He was 0-1 with two turnovers and three boards in 16 minutes. He has averaged a shot every 2.4 minutes so far this season. The chances of J.R. taking only one shot in 16 minutes are about equal to the chances of a reader laughing at my jokes.
- Remember how I said Anthony Carter had emerged from his shooting slump. That must only be true for home games as he went 0-5 tonight. He did manage 14 assists and he played solid defense as always, but when he is not able to pump in that 20 footer with regularity, it hurts the Nuggets offense. Reggie Miller said one of Carter’s shots looked like a 1960 two handed set shot and he definitely did not mean that as a compliment.
- Kleiza had another very good offensive game. He is in a good rhythm right now. He did not run the floor quite as well as he did against the Jazz and Wolves, but when his shot is falling, he can be a force. He really needs to add the ability to drive and dish to his game. He is very good at getting into the lane, but he shoots it 95% of the time.
- As upset as I am about the Nuggets losing and Melo getting hurt, I got a big kick out of the crowd chanting, "WE want TA-cos!" as the clock wound down. Fans get free tacos when the Lakers hold their opponent under 100 points. Lakers fans have now received free tacos twice courtesy of the Nuggets.
- I hope no one from my fantasy basketball keeper league reads this, but Javaris Crittenton is going to be very good.
- I previously mentioned that Camby was hot from the perimeter. How hot was he? He was so hot he even made a pull up jumper although he was so open it was almost done in slow motion.
- Kenyon Martin played well. He hit a couple of outside shots for what seems like the first time all season. He did seem to favor his left leg after he came down from a dunk. Hopefully, it was nothing.
- I am planning on looking at the Nuggets first half possessions and tracking their passing for the first half like I did for the Celtics game previously. In case you did not get to read my previous study, trust me, it was riveting blogging. Anyway, if it is worth publishing the results you will see it up in the next day or two. If it is not worth publishing then I probably wasted an hour or two of my life. I guess that pretty much assures I will fudge the date like a scientist who must find some frightening information because his income is generated from grant money. If I cannot prove how stagnant the Nuggets offense was, I will have to come up with something like eating overcooked pasta can lead to impotence.
Check out Forum Blue and Gold to read how Laker fans are gloating over their season sweep of the Nuggets.