2008 Playoffs Game 1: Denver Nuggets 114 - Los Angeles Lakers 128

Box Score

Well, that went about as well as could be expected. 

 

From start to finish the Lakers pretty much picked the Nuggets apart with their tremendous passing and for the most part made Denver look like the no D team everyone believes them to be.  The Lakers passed the ball so well the front line of Gasol, Odom and Radmanovic totaled 20 assists by themselves, which happens to be the same as the entire Nugget team.

 

From the two minute mark in the first quarter to the five minute mark in the second Denver played good defense and ran the floor.  Guess what happened?  They turned a ten point deficit into a seven point lead.  You would think the Nuggets would realize that if they do both of those things, they have a chance to pull an upset.  For some reason this team can never learn that lesson.

 

Of course, they were put in a bad position from the start with George Karl’s decision to have Kenyon Martin cover Kobe Bryant. 

 

I understand the desire to try to avoid a mismatch with the undersized Anthony Carter having to guard Kobe, but what sense does it make to put your team in an even worse defensive position in the name of avoiding one mismatch?  Because Kenyon was guarding Kobe Carter was stuck on the 6’10” Vlad Radmanovic.  On top of that Melo was stuck guarding Lamar Odom.  Even though Kobe had a poor shooting night I would not say that having Kenyon cover him was a rousing success. 

 

The Lakers obviously sent Radman into the lane to post up little Carter and that forced the Nuggets scramble to help out.  Oh and by the way, Melo did not seem to have much luck slowing Odom down or keeping him off the glass. 

 

To top it all off, their second best rebounder was now stuck out on the perimeter instead of hitting the glass.  Kenyon did have eight rebounds, but only three of them were defensive. 

 

Why the bloody sam hill would you voluntarily create three mismatches in the name of avoiding one?

 

Can we please just have Kenyon cover Odom and see if he can keep him off the glass and away from the rim?  Kobe took it very easy on Kenyon as he only drove on him a couple of times.  I have no idea why Kobe was content to jack up jumpers when Martin was on him, but you better not count on the Mamba taking it easy on Kenyon in game two.

 

Offensively, the Nuggets were really bad in the first quarter and it was because they only took two or three shots (somehow I lost count even though it was such a tiny number) in the paint the entire time.  Fortunately, they finally started working to get the ball inside and ended up with an impressive 60 points in the paint.  Of course the Lakers matched them with 60 points in the paint of their own.

 

So here is what we are looking at after Game 1.  Melo and AI contribute 60 total points, Kleiza has a tremendous offensive game putting up 23 points on 9-13 shooting, J.R. Smith came in the game and was gutsy (never heard anyone use that term to describe J.R. before have you?) taking the ball to the rim early and often totaling 15 points on 6-8 shooting, Denver outrebounded LA and Kobe shot 9-26.  That is a lot that went right for the Nuggets and they still were basically down by 10 or more the entire fourth quarter. 

 

Needless to say, I was not left with a warm and fuzzy feeling after game one.

 

Other Observations From Game 1:

 - I had written that the Nuggets needed more out of Marcus Camby than his post All-Star break 11 boards and three blocks.  Well, Camby gave the Nuggets seven boards and two blocks.  The Nuggets looked tremendously better when Camby was riding a folding chair and he had an astoundingly bad -30 during his 30 minutes of court time, but he made up for it by hoisting up a bunch of bad jumpers.

 

 - I loved how Kobe, in the midst of his previously referenced 9-26 shooting performance, was talking so much trash with Kenyon.  Start hitting some shots before you start running your mouth, but I guess if someone has earned the right to flap his gums it is Kobe.

 

 - I burned my finger on some thing on the bottom of my ice maker tonight.  How is that possible?  It’s and ice maker.  Is there anyone I can sue?

 

 - I have no idea why AI decided he wanted to leave the game early.  Looking at the play that appeared to set him off there was no reason for him to get as agitated as he did.  I found it really confusing.

 

 - Anyone else feel like saying Pau Gasol cannot get it done in the playoffs because he never won a playoff game with the Grizzlies?

 

 - You gotta love the knife fight scene between Tommy Lee Jones and the always intoxicating Steven Segal in the cinematic masterpiece Under Siege.

 

 - Kleiza had a tremendous game and the most impressive aspect of his performance was his ability to finish at the rim.  He has shown he can get in the lane, but he has not been a very good finisher unless he is able to throw down one of his quick-rise dunks.  In game one he was putting everything in the hoop against some pretty tough pressure.

 

 - One of the most disconcerting things I have seen in the NBA is Sasha Vujacic fiddling with his hair clips on the court.  I thought guys like Fabricio Oberto and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. looked bad with their little rubber band thingy holding their bad hair back, but this barrette dealie bob that Sasha is rocking makes me feel very queasy.

 

 - J.R. Smith only took one three point shot in 23 minutes.  He did a great job of going strong to the rim.  I do not think the Nuggets will win a game in this series with him going 0-1 from behind the arc though.  He also showed he can do a decent job of harassing Kobe, but he just needs to learn not to reach.  And as much as I love J.R., I am really getting sick of seeing the arms bent palms turned upwards look of shock after every time he is called for a foul.  More than anything else this summer, I think cubing his dramatic reaction to fouls is at the top of the list of skills to hone.

 

Well, there you have it Nuggets boosters.  I think everyone did a great job of chatting during the game and I will definitely join you for game two on Wednesday night. 

 

Make sure you check out Forum Blue and Gold and Sports Hub LA for some more coverage of the opening salvo in this series.

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