Today the Nuggets played the Lakers well enough to win, but alas the team couldn't execute down the stretch and blew an opportunity to put Kobe Bryant and Company away. The Nuggets found themselves up 89-84 with 3:40 left in the game. Denver was unable to find another point (many chances squandered) and lost in Los Angeles 92-89.
- First timeout at the 9:17 mark - Nuggets and Lakers tied at 4-4. Denver has been active defensively early. Mozgov has two blocked shots, a nice one on a Pau Gasol dunk attempt. And Nene has a steal that led to an uncontested Danilo Gallinari dunk! My boy Moz playing well defensively early against a tough Andrew Bynum.
- Moz with an assist to Arron Afflalo, 6-4 Nuggets. I'm mad over Moz, sorry folks.
- Nene just used a fadeaway against Gasol, I've never seen that move in the post before from the Brazilian. It was said he worked with Tim Duncan in the offseason ... he missed the shot, but a new weapon.
- Moz with a rebound on one end and a THUNDEROUS dunk on the other end from Ty Lawson in traffic. Chris Marlowe calls it the "Russian flush."
- First sub off the bench is again Andre Miller for Arron Afflalo at just over the 5:00 minute mark. The two point guard lineup continues. The 4:28 mark, Al Harrington checks in for Mozgov - this is Karl's rotation. Miller for AAA and Big Al for Moz. Rudy Fernandez checks in at around the 3-minute mark for Lawson ... the eight man rotation is in play today, thus far. Who will check in for Nene? Chris Andersen or Kosta Koufos?
- Fernandez passed up an open three-pointer, got the ball back a pass or two later and took the three with a man in his face from about three-feet beyond the line ... missed it. I say we just call Rudy: Bizzaro Swish.
- I need to talk to Harrington and figure out which hot spring he dipped himself in to find this fountain of youth. Big Al is looking good.
- :30 seconds left in the first and Dirty-Bird Andersen checks in for Nene - no Kouf. Birdman drops the first pass thrown his way and fumbles the ball to Miller - Bizarro Swish aka Fernandez bricks a shot at the end of the first.
- Nuggets up 23-22.
First quarter recap: Mozgov's best opening sequence. He played 7 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds (1 offensive), 2 blocks, and 2 assists. The Nuggets defense had bright spots and problems. They were active and swarming the ball, which led to a 4 steals, but they also missed some assignments and got carved up for some easy buckets as well. Karl likes the high-risk, high-reward defense.
- Dirty-Bird's old friend Andre Miller finds him for an open two-handed dunk to open the period. 25-22 Denver and that was Bird's finest play in awhile.
- Andersen blocks out Gasol, cruises over to bump into Harrington and the rebound goes out of bounds. Bird crashes into Steve Blake with the ball out of bounds, Blake 1-2 from the foul line ... 25-23 Denver.
- Fernandez takes another three ... misses again. He's 0-3 to start and needs to drive it or dish it as his shot is not working. He tries a dish a few possessions later and the ball goes to nobody ... Afflalo saves it. Rudy needs to get back to fundamental basketball - has he ever played under control?
- Andersen commits his third foul in just about 4 minutes of action. He's battling Gasol and just doesn't have the height or weight to stay with him ... or the know how in post-defense. Nuggets still up 31-28.
- Harrington bricks his second three pointer of the day, as I'm typing this, the Nuggets are 1-8 from deep. Harrington looking good when he drives or takes jumpers ... Karl has to get these guys to stop thinking either dunks or threes each trip down floor.
- I'm looking at a Lawson, Miller, AAA, Big Al, Nene lineup at the 5:12 mark ... where is Mozgov? Kid looked good in the first and the Nuggets are getting beat up on the glass in the second quarter by Josh McRoberts and Gasol. Considering bashing head into wood coffee table. And just like that ... Mozgov is back in after the TV timeout! Grabs a rebound right away ... Mozgov Militia!
- At the 4:43 mark Moz is taken out for Gallo. What in the world????? Thirty seconds of playing time? Where is that coffee table ... ::BANG BAM BANG:: I'm back ... concust, but I'm ok. The Nuggets are playing with Miller, Lawson, AAA, Gallo, and Nene. No interior defense and the Lakers are carving Denver up with no fear of venturing into the paint. Kill me, kill me now! It's now 42-38 Lakers after Denver was up six.
- 2:49 mark and Mozgov is back in for Afflalo. Jerking his playing time around is Karl's new favorite game! Moz and Nene stuff Derek Fisher's layup attempt ... Miller converts on the other end. Pace of the game starting to pick up ... that favors Denver, big time! Nene with a jam after a Nuggets steal ... 43-42 Denver, a mini 5-0 run.
- Bynum having to work hard for his points against Moz. On the offensive end, Moz blows a reverse layup, probably should have went strong to the hoop and back on defense the Nuggets get a steal, but Moz throws it behind Lawson for a Fisher steal ... sloppy play as L.A. is up 44-43.
- Closing the quarter it looks like the Nuggets will use Lawson, Fernandez, Gallo, Nene, and Moz ... traditional lineup ... go figure. Timeout Denver with :40.4 seconds left in the half and the team down 46-43. Karl looks unhappy in the huddle, but handing out instructions and getting his guys to work. I'm hard on Karl for his rotations, but I like his energy on the bench thus far with his guys.
- Coming out of the timeout we have: Lawson with the ball, to Fernandez at the top of the key, to AAA he drives and dishes to Moz ... he puts it home with a little bunny ... 46-45 Lakers. Kobe misses on the other end, Nuggets have 8.6 seconds and the ball out of bounds. Afflalo gets rejected on a three by Matt Barnes, Blake get it and heaves a long one ... no good. Half is over.
- Lakers lead: 46-45.
Second quarter recap: The pace slowed way down as Denver's defense wasn't as active and the offense was pretty disjointed. The Nuggets played small and that didn't help on glass or in the points department as they went from 23 in the first to scoring just 22 in the second.
- Fisher picks up his fourth foul to open the third, Blake is in for him and Lawson hits the foul line and sinks both freebies: 47-46 Denver.
- Moz gets his 4th block of the game as he pins Bynum's layup against the glass. Moz eventually gets the board after picking up his second foul. I really want to see Lawson expose Blake this half or Fisher, whoever is trying to stay in front of The Blur - Ty hits a three, Denver now 2-11 from deep and up 52-51. Afflalo is so rusty, so so rusty, but he gets Bryant to foul him on a three-attempt ... misses the first freebie, gets the second to roll in, and bricks the third ... 1-3 - he needs to step up, big time!
- The Lakers are just hanging around in this game. Denver isn't executing like a good team should. Feels like this is a time for one team to make a run ... Lakers going on a mini run here, up 57-53. The Nuggets need to get aggressive and start taking the ball to the rack, the Lakers don't have any answers when the Nuggets are driving to the rim.
- Mozgov picks up his fourth foul on a bogus screen call where Blake fell to the ground, got his third on the previous offensive trip when he went over the back for a putback dunk attempt. Nuggets are now going to play small for a long stretch ... let's see what happens as L.A. is up 59-56 with 6:09 left in the third, Miller is in for AAA and Moz is actually still in the game.
- Kobe now has 4 fouls ... if he gets to 5 fouls I will chug a jar of mayonnaise. Meanwhile, the Lakers are on a 12-3 run and up 63-56. Nuggets fight back with a 5-0 run with a Lawson layup and Harrington three ... 63-61 Lakers. Gallo is just 3-7 shooting and is now hesitating on open looks ... that's not good. Gallo to the hole and misses, but Moz cleans it up and we are tied 63-63.
- With Kobe out of the game, the Lakers offense has struggled a bit - Fernandez hits his first three of the game and Denver is up 66-65 with 1:45 left in the third, Denver on a 10-2 run of their own. This is setting up to be a close one down the stretch. Can the Nuggets, as a team, execute to win this or will the Superstar Mr. Bryant be the one to will his team to victory? You've got questions, I have no answers!
- Nuggets up 71-69 at the end of the third.
Third quarter recap: Mozgov is making a huge difference in this game. He has 6 points, 9 rebounds (3 offensive), 4 blocks, and 2 assists. On the flip he has 4 fouls and 3 turnovers. He's still learning, but this is by far his best game and he's making Bynum work very hard for his points. Gallo is hesitating, Rudy is bricking shots, Lawson isn't being the normal aggressive we've seen thus far, Nene disappeared for a bit, Harrington is balling with 13 points with his inside/outside game, and it's all going to be decided in the next 15 minutes! Denver won the quarter 26-23.
- Here we go! Miller, Afflalo, Fernandez, Harrington, and Mozgov to open the fourth. Bynum with a nice board over Moz and slams it home for his 20th point ... tied at 71-71. Rudy bricks a three ... pull his butt out of the game.
- Bynum with is second offensive board and putback, 73-73. Moz needs better position down low on the talented Laker big. Afflalo nails a three, 76-73 Denver. Kobe still on the bench with four fouls. Miller finally finds Mozgov on the offensive end as he's typically first down the floor. Bynum with another offensive board, Rudy with a smart play knocking it off Bynum ... Moz getting beat down low, but now has 8 points ... close to a double-double.
- Kobe is back in the game, nails a jumper right away ... 78-78.
- Refs starting to give the Lakers their calls ... bullshit calls if you are unaware of what I'm talking about. 81-80 Nuggets after Lakers gifted three straight possessions.
- We have 6:04 left, Kobe gets a technical after he's stripped with no call by Harrington. The Nuggets are in DESPERATE need of somebody to score the ball. AAA hits the tech and Denver needs an offensive threat. Moz to the bench - great game by him, his third career 10+ rebound game.
- Harrington is one of the few Nuggets still looking for his shot. Nails a three, Denver up 85-80. Gallo and Fernandez both hesitated on their attempts and Gallo is not looking comfortable with any shot he chooses - he needs to start driving to the rim and drawing fouls.
- Harrington is being leaned on and is taking over for Denver. I'm scared and happy all at the same time ... Big Al has 21 points now.
- 3:59 left, Lawson, Miller, Gallo, Big Al, and Nene ... looks like they'll close this thing out. Miller with a slight ankle sprain, he's staying in the game. Nuggets third possession, Lawson pick-and-roll with Nene, he feeds Brazil in the paint and Nene throws in down and gets fouled by Barnes ... misses the freebie: 89-84 Denver. On the other end, Bynum gets an alley-oop, but goes over Nene's back - Nene called for the foul, how is that possible? Oh ya, it's the Lakers.
- Nene gets his dunk blocked by Barnes on the offensive end, 89-87 still Nuggets ... 2:47 left as Kobe flops around and flops around and they call a blocking foul on Harrington. What a garbage call. NBA refs should be ashamed of themselves ... that was ridiculous. Denver having to overcome the Lakers and the refs ... once again.
- Fisher bricks a three, Fisher scrambles for the ball, pushes Lawson twice, is on the floor with it and rolls over (travel), Lawson ties him up and the refs give the Lakers a timeout. The fix seems to be in for L.A. once again, can Denver overcome it? Still 89-87 Denver. Kobe runs around with the ball ... bumps into Gallo and Gallo gets the foul - Kobe to the foul line after playing fake basketball. 89-89 and a 5-0 L.A. run.
- Lakers crowd is awake, Nene gets swatted by Bynum in the post. Bynum with an easy lay in, 91-89 Lakers. Lawson gets stuffed by the rim on a lay up attempt. Kobe vs. Gallo, Bryant misses a jumper, Lawson rebound and gets Fisher to foul out on a lay up attempt. Lawson misses the first free throw (fittingly) and bricks the second as well, wow.
- Kobe loses the ball out of bounds with :50 seconds left. Harrington bricks a three, Nene rebounds, and Gallo misses a three badly. Just :28 seconds left and Kobe with the ball, timeout Lakers with 19.2 seconds left.
- Kobe vs. Gallo, Kobe misses again. Miller finds Gallo all alone streaking down court ... Gallo blows the layup with just 1.1 seconds left. Unbelievable. Kobe bricks his first free throw ... still a chance for Denver. Kobe buries the second and Denver takes a timeout. The Nuggets just haven't executed down the stretch, young teams do that against veteran squads. The pressure is still too great for these Nuggets.
- Lakers win 92-89.
Game recap: What a game. The Nuggets battled the whole way through and had many chances to put the Lakers away, but the young team wilted under the pressure and fell to the Lakers once again, but for the first time this season. Denver was up 89-84 with 3:40 left in the game, but they never scored again. Nene missed a dunk and a free throw, Lawson went 0-2 from the charity stripe, and Gallo missed a wide open layup. To end things, Harrington missed a three at the buzzer from about 40 feet.
The Lakers utilized the refs and a 10-2 run in the final 3:40 to win the game. There were some bright spots for the Nuggets, like Harrington off the bench with 21 points and Mozgov finishing with 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The good news, the Nuggets get another crack at the Lakers tomorrow night in Denver and I'm not sure we'll see 32 minutes and 29 points again from Bynum.
Happy New Year's Eve everyone, be safe and we'll see you in 2012!
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