Nuggets at Lakers preview: One at a time in LA

Pau Gasol ... cheering his way out of LA? - Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

So, the Nuggets are on this crazy pattern of "lose three. win four". Well, the Nuggets look to break that pattern tonight in Los Angeles. How do you break a pattern? Just take things one game at a time.

Loading Scores

2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 17
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vs
8-8

7-8
November 30th, 2012, 8:30 PM (MT)
Staples Center - Los Angeles, California
TV ESPN, Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Ty Lawson PG Darius Morris
Andre Iguodala SG Kobe Bryant
Danilo Gallinari SF Metta World Peace
Kenneth Faried PF Pau Gasol
Kosta Koufos C Dwight Howard
Notes
You're already here, duh! Blogs Silver Screen and Roll
Wilson Chandler (out), Julyan Stone (out) Injuries Steve Nash (out), Steve Blake (out)
Nuggets have lost two in a row Stat Lakers have not played since Tuesday



Let's get this out of the way, just so there's no confusion on the issue ...

Phil Jackson is head and shoulders, leaps and bounds a better coach than Mike D'Antoni. No surprise there, so we will let the rest of that pass without comment. How this was even up for debate when D'Antoni was hired is something that will perplex for long time.

As soon as coach Pringles was hired by the Lakers, they were going to have roster issues. Namely one Pau Gasol, who for all his great attributes just doesn't fit the D'Antoni system. Whereas the Llama was perfect for Phil Jackson's triangle offense, he was lost in Mike Brown's ... uhhhh ... offense? And while coach Pringles has a more wide-open style of play, it doesn't seem to suit the 32 year-old Spaniard. This is disappointing because Gasol is genuinely a great player, and his lack of offensive "fit" has affected his play so severely that it alters perception of what a good player he actually is. Here are Gasol's stats so far this season:


Pts Reb Ast
2012 - Pau Gasol 13.1 9.1 3.3


Nice rebounding numbers, but scoring looks woefully inadequate for someone of the Llama's talent.

None of this is the fault of Dwight Howard. Howard is Howard, and he will be the same regardless of system. It just so happens that D'Antoni needs a pick and roll big man (a la Amare Stoudemire) and Howard (it is assumed) will be able to thrive with a healthy Steve Nash (once he returns). We shall see. In the meantime Howard is still recovering from back surgery and I'm assuming he will unleash unholy hell on the Western Conference once he is 100% healthy. Here are his stats so far this season (with the bad back):


Pts Reb Ast
2012 - Dwight Howard 17.9 10.5 1.9


Getting 31 points per game and nearly 20 rebounds per game between your two primary big men should be a boon. But the execution has been lacking for the Lakers team, and it's been a painful transition from the Phil Jackson era to say the least. Lots of square pegs and round holes. They will "figure" something out.

Last but certainly not least is Kobe Bryant. Now, there are two ways you can look at this. Either Kobe is having a great year so far, or, he's playing typical Kobe "hero ball" and is destroying team chemistry. It's a toss up between either for Kobe. While Kobe is alpha dog above all alpha dogs in the NBA, he does have a tendency to run roughshod over situations because he thinks he needs to take over. Is this a good or bad thing? Is this something the Nuggets need on their team?

All in all, tonight is an interesting match-up that is not as daunting as some here would like to paint it.

Nuggets of Wisdom

12 road games. 5 home games.

Let that sink in before you take another chug of that whiskey. The Nuggets are currently 8-8, should be somewhere around 10-6. This is where we are. Bill Parcells would say you are what your record is, and that is fine. However, lets back away from the ledge every time the Nuggets lose a (close) game. There are good and bad things to take away from the recent stretch of games that all bi-polar factions can hold onto.

One revelation in last night's game against the Golden State Warriors that has gone ignored in the "woe is me" chants from last night is the fact that a lineup featuring Jordan Hamilton and Danilo Gallinari as primary scorers on the floor was incredibly effective and efficient. It opened up Gallo's play-making ability while allowing Ham the freedom to roam. Now, this apparently was ruined by Jordan Hamilton making two boneheaded offensive plays at the end of the first half. As I said to Nate Timmons last night ... is that right? In my opinion, at this point, Hamilton needs to get as much run with Gallinari, Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller as he can. He's not getting smarter by getting the J.R. Smith treatment, and this is where George Karl needs to lower his pride and play the kid.

I'm willing to wager that if the Nuggets play that lineup mentioned above, the opportunities on offense will open up, and this team wont look as disorganized and discombobulated as they did in the fourth quarter of last night's game.

If the Nuggets do that, if Karl lets them, the Nuggets will win tonight ... and win convincingly. Remember to take this one game at a time, and if the Nuggets do that they can break this streak they are on.

Go Nuggets

Be sure and listen to Les Shapiro and Tom Nalen every Monday-Friday on 102.3 ESPN from Noon to 3 pm.

***

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