Well, the Nuggets stunk for all but a small stretch in this one. The Nuggets had no business being in a position to win this game and George Karl helped to make sure of that with his refusal to substitute Andre Miller, Arron Afflalo, Corey Brewer, Al Harrington, or JaVale McGee. Ty Lawson did enter the game with around two minutes to go, but the "hot hand" lineup had already been rode into the ground, as usual.
Sure, that fourth quarter lineup was able to get the Nuggets back into the game, but it also exhausted any chance the Nuggets had to win. Remember that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace leads his troops into battle against impossible odds, then they actually start to win the battle, and all they need to put them over the top are their reinforcements that are laying in wait? The reinforcements that never came? Yep, when Wallace looked back for his fresh soldiers they refused to ride in for the rescue. Well, Karl did the same thing to his "trust" player by refusing to inject some fresh legs in the form of THE CORE OF THE DAMN TEAM!
Lawson, Danilo Gallinari (2-9 shooting, 7 points), and Kenneth Faried (18 minutes, SERIOUSLY?!?) rotted away on the bench. Aren't these guys the future of the team? Didn't the Nuggets commit serious money to Gallo? Clear the way for Lawson by trading Chauncey Billups and Raymond Felton? Deal Nene to allow Faried more minutes? Put these guys in the game! Do we really have to watch Corey Brewer hack and brick shots in crunch time the rest of the season? Can't Harrington play some small forward to allow Faried to play power and McGee to man the middle? How can I see this and Karl cannot? Unbelievable.
You can say the unit that got the team back into the game had the right to try to win it, but those guys were clearly gassed and anyone who expected them to be able to pull it out is just fooling themselves at this point. You gotta mix in some fresh legs. So frustrating. Karl did pick up a nice technical foul for his team after the refs proved once again that no matter the player, the Lakers will get their calls. But watching the team gas out late is getting old.
The first half must have been sponsored by Pepto Bismol because both teams had cases of the runs. The Nuggets went cold, then hot, then cold then hot ... same for the Lakers. Andrew Bynum doesn't have to dribble much as he's allowed to travel all over the floor, but he was sweet tonight. The big man went for 30 points and 8 rebounds and torched the Nuggets bigs. Karl use Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, and Timofey Mozgov - none at the same time. Moz had some nice success on defense and started the second half for Koufos (knee issues?), but his offensive woes continue as does his screen setting ability.
Score stayed 57-54 on five straight Nuggets possessions in the third quarter - turnovers and missed shots. Real chance to get a run going and take control of the game. Denver just was never able to get over that third quarter hump during that stretch. Felt like one of those games where if they make a move there - they might not relinquish the lead after getting it, seen the Nuggets do that a lot over the years. But Denver never broke the Lakers will or got to play with a lead.
Midway through the fourth the Nuggets down 87-81 they finally get a defense stop, give away the rebound, the Lakers miss again, Andre Miller secures a big defensive board, he gets hammered by Kevin Ebanks, Bynum picks up the ball and sinks a jumper. Unreal. Even without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers still get so many calls from the men in gray. George Karl gets a technical and the Lakers miss it ... Ball Don't Lie. Nuggets went on a quick 6-0 run to make it 89-87.
With 5:02 left, the Nuggets had a real shot to make a move, but the group that got them within two points ... stay in and like clockwork, Corey Brewer bricks a three-pointer and on the next possession he grabs a big offensive board and bricks a layup that he rushed while off balance (why not just come down with it?). Why must he continue to shoot threes? Why? Why? Wwwhhhhyyyy???
Denver did have a chance to get the lead, but a blown layup by Big Al (91-90 at the time) was the last straw on the Nuggets camel back. Matt Barnes (9-11 shooting, 24 points and 10 rebounds...yikes) knocked down a big three (he was 4-4 from deep tonight) to make it 94-90 and he then hit a big floater after blowing by Afflalo to put the final nail in the Nuggs coffin.
The Nuggets had a chance to get a crucial win on the road, but they left their offense in Denver and now must come up big against the Houston Rockets on Sunday and Monday. Story of the Nuggets season ... nothing comes easy.
Views you can use ... or throw up to:
- Is it weird to anyone else that Jack Nicholson likes basketball? Doesn't seem like he'd be a fan ... weird.
- The NBA needs to add subs on the fly for guys like Brewer ... play him on defense (when he's not hacking everything in sight) and then he runs to the bench as Lawson or somebody comes flying in.
- Lakers out-rebound the Nuggets 45-40 as Faried played JUST 18 MINUTES!!!
- Lakers go 7-15 from deep ... 46%.
- Nuggets go 5-17 from deep ... 29%.
Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Nate_Timmons