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"We got no shot to beat the Lakers"...

So said former head coach Doug Moe at the beginning of the 1987 NBA Playoffs when his 8th-seeded Denver Nuggets faced the 1st-seeded Los Angeles Lakers and were unceremoniously swept.

"So you're telling me there's a chance." So said Lloyd Christmas.

Rather than lay into the Nuggets (too much) for finding themselves in a nearly impossible situation, I'm going to offer some constructive suggestions for how to beat the Lakers - a team I've watched almost as much as the Nuggets (in person and on TV), given that I've spent half my time in Los Angeles for the past several years.

But first, please grant me this one quick rant to recap the season, and then we'll get to beating (ha - gotcha!) the Lakers...

After watching his Nuggets get their asses whipped in the 2007 playoffs by a bunch of goddamn nerds - otherwise known as the San Antonio Spurs - current Nuggets head coach George Karl said that his players needed to have "more respect" for the regular season in 2007-08, so they wouldn't find themselves without home court advantage for the fifth consecutive season.

Unfortunately, neither Karl nor his players heeded his advice, even though they were predicting a division title and 60 wins (what a joke) at the beginning of the season. Forgetting 60 wins and division titles, had they just "respected" the regular season a little more, there would never have been a, and they wouldn't be playing the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

My critics and detractors will condemn me further today for launching this blog in by pointing to 50 wins. Don't get me wrong, 50 wins is usually great. But this was an unusual season, especially in the Western Conference, and everyone knew it, except the Nuggets apparently. We as fans and in the media all knew this WASN'T the season to drop games to teams coached by Isiah Thomas or Larry Krystkowiak or Sam Vincent, or routinely give up 70 points at halftime to bad teams, or lose crucial home games against inferior opponents' practice squads, and so on.

NOT this season.

But in spite of the Nuggets failure to secure home court advantage and a more favorable first round matchup, this remains a surprisingly lovable and talented, albeit unpredictable and sometimes troublesome, bunch of players. And therefore, I will be rooting for them with everything I've got (call me a sucker) and I hope Nuggets fans everywhere do, too. Because if we as Nuggets fans don't galvanize around this team and cheer them on as boisterously as possible against the Lakers, they really won't have a chance.

So how the @#$%& do we beat these @#$%& Lakers anyway?!

-Let Kobe Bryant score 50 points in every game. The Lakers are 4-3 in games where Kobe scores more than 40 and 1-1 when he goes for 50. Conversely, they are 9-2 when Kobe dishes out at least 8 assists. Considering that neither Anthony Carter, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith can guard Kobe anyway, I say let him score at will, keep his assists down and worry about stopping everyone else. This will allow the Nuggets to prey on Kobe's insistence on getting his teammates involved.

-Forget the zone defense. Even though they keep insisting on using it, the Nuggets aren't good at the zone defense, especially against teams that can shoot like the Lakers. The Nuggets will need a hand in everyone' face at all times, in particular on corner three's (read: don't let Derek Fisher make six three-pointers like he did against the Nuggets in January).

-Drive the ball inside on every possession. With center Andrew Bynum out for the entire series, the Lakers have no shot-blocking presence in the middle. And since the Nuggets can't shoot consistently from the outside worth a damn, why not take it inside as much as possible? One of Anthony, Iverson and Kenyon Martin's specialties is getting to the free-throw line, and they need to do it ad nauseum in this series.

-Get the A.I. vs. Kobe rivalry rolling again. Iverson and Bryant had a subtle rivalry brewing while Iverson played for Bryant's hometown Philadelphia 76ers. Fair or not, upon entering the league together Iverson represented the new "street" version of the modern NBA player, while Bryant was more of a throwback to the players of the previous era - read: clean cut and uncontroversial. Picking up on this, Philadelphia fans embraced Iverson (the tough kid from a tough neighborhood in Hampton, VA) over Bryant (the spoiled rich kid from the suburbs of Philly), so much that they booed Bryant when he won the All-Star MVP in Philadelphia! This has always given each player extra incentive to play even harder against each other, evident when Bryant shut Iverson down after Iverson lit up the Lakers for 49 points through three quarters in Denver earlier this year (a game the Nuggets of course lost).

-I don't know how, but get Nene back in the lineup dammit! As good as Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are, the Lakers don't have a tough inside presence other than Ronny Turiaf. If the Nuggets could throw Nene and K-Mart at the Lakers, on both ends of the floor, this would be a huge advantage at the 4-spot for Denver.

-And most importantly, for the games in Los Angeles, put Carmelo under a Mike-Shanahan-the-night-before-the-Super-Bowl curfew. An admitted cheap shot, but Melo asked for it.

The Nuggets may have a lot of flaws, but heart (in big, big games at least) and talent aren't two of them. Moreover, while the Lakers are a terrific team, will get all the close calls, and are one of the odds-on favorites to go all the way, they aren't a particularly good defensive team without Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza.

This doesn't make the Nuggets anything other than a long shot, but if George Karl could somehow, some way pull off an all-time miracle and guide the Nuggets into the second round, we'll be throwing around another famous quote, this time from from Lloyd Christmas' best friend Harry Dunne:

"Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this...and totally redeem yourself!"