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Game 80 recap: Nuggets 102 - Lakers 116

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I could be the only one on this and if that's the case then I might seek help. But does anyone else ever wake up and just sort of feel is not one of their days? From the alarm going off and you fumbling around trying to hit snooze. To putting your clothes on and for some reason they don't even feel like they are yours. Just an all around uncomfortable feeling that leaves you wanting a do-over.

Well, that is how I felt about last night's game. In the first quarter the Nuggets just were not able to come up with a couple loose balls and they resulted into easy baskets for the Lakers ... the type of play that leads you to scream out, "It's going to be one of THOOOSE games!"

I never got the sense that the Nuggets were going to really make a game of it. You get that sense in close games. Denver often provides stretches where they dominate teams and show they not only belong, but that they are truly capable of outperforming the other team. I never got that impression last night.

There was much discussed about the officiating last night and I felt like it was one of those games where the Nuggets let the calls affect how they were playing. We haven't seen this much recently, but it crept back in last night.

The Lakers took 46 free throws to the Nuggets' 29. That's a seventeen point difference right there. The Lakers connected on 37 of their attempts to the Nuggets' 25 ... an actual difference of 12 points. That is very hard for a team on the road to have to overcome.

I did not think the officiating was consistent last night and to paraphrase Altitude TV personality Scott Hastings, "If you are gonna call it on one end ... FINE ... but you gotta call on the other end too."

In fact my friends Sean and Rory had to restrain me from trying to guzzle down 18 18-oz. Coors Lights to numb the pain the officials were causing me.

In the 1st Quarter alone the Lakers held a 14-15 to 4-4 free throw advantage, which led to their 33-25 lead after the first.

Anyhow ... Denver held tough and somehow came out tied at the half. And even though the game was tied I didn't really feel that the Lakers were in any real danger.

Game notes:

  • The Nuggets needed to take advantage of mismatches more often. Whenever Sasha Vujacic (18 minutes) or Luke Walton (23 minutes) were in the game Denver should have been taking those guys to the rim. Too often last night it was the Lakers who found themselves with great mismatches and they capitalized, what felt like every time.
  • The Nuggets (44.4%) actually held the Lakers to a lower shooting percentage (42.5%).Though the Lakers did have six more shots than the Nuggets.
  • At one point the Lakers went to a full court press and got Chris Andersen to turn the ball over on a lazy pass ... it was as if Denver had never seen a press before. Very strange that they were not prepared for it.
  • Pau Gasol was crazy on the glass last night. He gathered 19 total rebounds and 11 on the offensive glass, nearly 60% of his rebounds. I've never thought of Gasol as a super talented guy and I'm probably wrong there, but I just don't find him to be anything other than tall with decent body control.
  • Chris Andersen was trying to block everything. I've been having an issue with this because when he does so he vacates his man and quite often misses result in easy put backs as the Bird is flying out of position. I guess you can't have it both ways with Bird ... but I'd like to see him stay in his nest a bit more and just gather rebounds then attempting to block everything in sight. Bird finished with 1 point, 8 rebounds, and 0 blocks.
  • Melo got out of his Laker funk and he did so by attacking! Melo finished 8-16 from the floor and 7-7 from the foul line (should have been awarded at least 6 more attempts with the non-calls) for 23 points as well as 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Melo did rack up 5 fouls ... and he led the team in the dubious +/- category with a -14 ... without Melo though I think Denver gets pummeled last night.
  • Billups scored 17 points and went 7-7 from the foul line. Billups didn't turn in a strong shooting performance going 4-11 (2-5 from deep). Billups did account for 3 turnovers and that is pretty uncharacteristic of him in games where his team is depending on him to run the show.
  • Nene has been backing down from bigger centers ... at least to bigger named centers. Nene played pretty soft in my eyes against Yao Ming and Shaq this season and again last night against Andrew Bynum. Bynum did have a tremendous block on Nene's violent dunk attempt and I can't help but to think that intimidated Nene. The Brazilian needs to continue to finish strong around the rim and that will lead to the foul calls. You always have to finish strong around the rim.
  • I'll save my thoughts on Kleiza for the "Quote of the Night."
  • J.R. Smith turned in a nice performance off the bench. I didn't like his 8 three point attempts, but I do understand that he was trying to get it going from deep. Had he hit a few of them this could have been a different game. It just felt like every time Denver had a chance to really get in the game they would miss a shot and the Lakers would make them pay ... that's what elite teams do.
  • Anthony Carter is NOT a Kobe stopper. Bryant went off for 33 points last night going 11-19 from the field. Do me a favor ... go to any elementary school and challenge one of the 5th Graders to a one-on-one game. See how difficult the kid can make your shots. It was painful to watch AC try to slow down Kobe.
  • Balkman, Petro, and Dahntay Jones all pretty much played the role of ... "Player X is tired ... go in ... okay he's got his wind ... come out." Karl says he hates using guys in this manner, but that has been Dahntay's role all season. I don't understand it. They say Jones is a defensive specialist, but he rarely plays enough minutes to face any challenges.

I wanted to win this game. The Nuggets held a 64-63 lead in the third and I tried to visualize Denver remaining in the lead ... I couldn't do it. I don't think the Nuggets played poorly ... it just wasn't their night and they did enough wrong and let their focus drift just enough to the officiating to lose this game.

 

Quote of the Night:

Since we had a nice game thread going last night I wanted to start up a new feature ... the "Quote of the Night" will be featured in Recaps from the previous night's GAME THREAD. They don't have to be funny to win, but that helps.

The 1st Quote of the Night award goes to BeefySwats.

"Whenever I see Linas Kleiza make a basket, I now sigh because I realize it will only encourage him to shoot more." -BeefySwats

Kleiza finished the night 0-4 from three-point land. LK did score 12 points off the bench on 6-13 shooting, but I think we can all see BeefySwats point.

Thanks to everyone sharing their frustration last night on the tread. Know you are not alone! haha. The Nuggets are still in prime position to take the 2nd Seed ... but they may have to finish 2-0 to do so.

 

ntimmons73@yahoo.com