Chandler led the Nuggets with 23 points tonight. - Doug Pensinger
The "go-go" Nuggets were all over the place tonight and they came out on top of the Lakers 119-108.
"Every basketball player looks forward to playing against guys like Kobe." said Wilson Chandler.
Denver is now 3-1 against Bryant's Lakers and the team relished the opportunity to defeat the LA squad once again. The Nuggets took full advantage of the transition game tonight. George Karl's squad outscored the Lakers 33-3 on the fastbreak and if you blinked -- you probably missed something exciting.
With 1:13 left in the game the Nuggets put a stamp on the night as Andre Iguodala found Kenneth Faried for a designed alley-oop coming out of a timeout. Iguodala said after the game that the play was drawn up in the timeout and that Dwight Howard read the pass, but Iguodala recalled a conversation he had with Jason Kidd a few years ago about throwing the lob.
Iguodala said Kidd told him he throws the lobs no matter what -- even if the defender reads it -- because even if they can see it coming, they still don't think you'll throw the pass. Iguodala saw Howard looking right at him and threw the pass anyway and Manimal threw it down to end the Lakers evening.
Before the game tipped off, we found out that Danilo Gallinari was not going to play. This usually spells trouble for the Nuggets -- who recently lost two road games when Gallo sat in Toronto and Brooklyn -- but not tonight. Gallo's replacement -- Chandler -- came through with a team-high 23 points on 10-18 shooting in 25 minutes, despite being in early foul trouble.
"Wilson was fantastic," said George Karl. "Gradually he'll get better confidence, better condition, a better place. He makes us very versatile offensively and defensively."
Chandler was hitting outside shots, jumpers and got to the rim on occasion. He didn't have a lot of time to prepare to start this evening and found out he'd be starting in place of Gallo close to tip-off.
"About an hour before the game." said Chandler.
Before today's game Chandler was working with John Welch on some shooting drills after practice and taking a lot of the shots he was making tonight.
"Welch put me though some drills -- kind of like a game -- like where you're going to get shots during a game," said Chandler. "A lot of catch-and-shoot and a lot of catch-and-drive."
The Nuggets drove the ball at will against Howard and the Lakers.
"Once they missed a shot, it was like a jailbreak," said Ty Lawson. "Everybody was trying to get down the court and get the layup. Me and Brew were trying to fight for layups -- that was the game plan."
The Lakers transition defense was atrocious and Denver exploited them time-and-again. The Nuggets shot 55.7-percent from the field, but were just 5-18 from three-point land on the night. Without the fastbreaks it could have been a much different game.
The Lakers didn't play bad offensively, they put up 108 points and shot 55.1-percent on the night, including 8-19 (42.1-percent) from deep. Kobe got off to a slow start with a 1-7 showing in the first quarter, but he finished the night 11-16 (12-23) -- good for 29 points on the evening.
Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks started the game off by combining for three three-pointers, but the duo couldn't last. Jamison finished with 14 points (better than is 8.8 ppg season average and slightly better than his 12 ppg average for Feb.) and Meeks with 8 points. Howard finished with 15 points on 6-8 shooting, but had an awful night from the foul line where he was just 3-14. Denver's plan to foul him in the paint worked like a charm.
This was a big win for the Nuggets. The Lakers are a sub .500 team, but like Aaron Lopez pointed out (on Twitter) as the contest was coming to a close - the Lakers were 11-4 in their previous 15 games. They are now 11-5 in their previous 16 contests. This was a litmus test for the Lakers and they failed miserably.
The Nuggets will be back at it Wednesday night in Portland ... a place where they set a dismal NBA record earlier this season. Time for some revenge.
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-Lawson was asked after the game if he thinks Wilson is getting healthier out there. He said after the game that he believes Wilson is getting more comfortable in the Nuggets offense. The same question posed to Chandler:
"It's a little bit of both," said Chandler. "Being healthier and being more comfortable. I've got to understand, with the doctors and the trainers, this season is going to be tough for me to get back to 100-percent. Now, just fight through everything, get a rhythm and play hard. Get better in the off-season."
-Kosta Koufos played just 14 minutes tonight. He wasn't bad as he finished with 8 points (3-4 shooting) and 5 rebounds, but he gave way to JaVale McGee -- who played 23 minutes and put up 7 points (3-4 shooting), 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. JaVale was again locked in and rose to the occasion of guarding Howard and playing against the Lakers.
-Iguodala led the team with 12 assists and put up 14 points as well. He continues to do the little things and fill up the stat sheet.
-Karl went a little deeper into his bench with Chandler getting into foul trouble and Gallo being out of the lineup. Karl threw Anthony Randolph, Jordan Hamilton and Timofey Mozgov into the mix to keep throwing fresh legs at the Lakers. Randolph had an impressive stint as he finished a couple fastbreaks and played within the offense.
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