In the loss to the Blazers on Dec. 29th the Nuggets were out-rebounded 50-30 and the team grabbed only 3 offensive rebounds, while shooting a miserable 35-87 from the field (40.2%). Look no further than Timofey Mozgov, Chris Andersen, and Kosta Koufos combining for just over 18 minutes in the game, coupled with Al Harrington playing only 22 minutes and you’ll realize that going with smaller lineups means giving up certain aspects of a game: rebounding. Going small against the sizable Lakers could prove to be a dangerous game …

The particulars …

Game: 4
2-1 (1-1 on the road)
Streak: Lost 1
LA Lakers: 2-2 (2-1 at home)
Streak: Won 2
: None.
LA Lakers: Matt Barnes (left hip) is probable, Kobe Bryant (torn ligament, right wrist) is probable, Derrick Caracter (torn meniscus, left knee) is out, Pau Gasol (sprained right shoulder) is probable, and Josh McRoberts (sprained left big toe and left thumb) is probable.

Season Series: 0-0

Opposition’s Take: Silver Screen and Roll

The Nuggets traded rebounds for steals and turnovers against the Blazers, but did it work? Denver forced Portland into 25 turnovers, including 16 steals for the Nuggets defense, yet they still lost 111-102. You could point to the Nuggets cold shooting performance in Oregon and pin the loss on that, but with all those misses there were plenty of chances for … second chances. With lineups dominated by guards however, second opportunities are a tall task.

While Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, and Arron Afflalo have proved that they are better than average rebounders for their positions, it’s laughable to think they would be able to compete in the paint against the likes of Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Marcus Camby. Tonight, the Nuggets will again be faced with a daunting front court that is known for gobbling up rebounds.

Andrew Bynum is back tonight after serving a reduced four-game suspension (reduced from five games, the reduction likely a result of the NBA botching the Chris Paul/Lakers trade – I joke, I joke). The Lakers twin-tower lineup is back intact with Bynum and Pau Gasol and new small forward Devin Ebanks (6’9”) is no slouch himself.

It’ll be interesting to see if George Karl will finally match size-with-size against the Lakers or if he’ll continue the status-quo of going small against the Lakeshow. Denver was never really able to “Go Big” against Gasol and Company in the past because the roster wasn’t what it is now. Mozgov has had the deer in the headlights look so far this season, Dirty-Bird(man) Andersen has looked like the old guy at the rec center trying to run with the teenagers, and Koufos hasn’t been able to get off the bench.

Karl talked pretty glowingly about Koufos after he was acquired in a trade with the Timberwolves last season and had this to say about the Greek on Dec. 8th:

It may all be extremely relevant to the Nuggets this season, as coach George Karl said this week that he expects Koufos to be part of the rotation. –Denver Post

That quote was in reference to Nene perhaps leaving the team via free agency. Was Karl’s plan to play Kosta only if Nene left? Karl talked about how Koufos hadn’t been given a chance to play in Utah or Minnesota and he seemed surprised by that, so why is the Coach doing the same thing in Denver?

While Koufos and Mozgov don’t appear to be knocking on the All-Star ballot door at the moment, why not see what you have while the season is still young? Teams will be playing lots of games in short amounts of time, and it should be easy to see which games will be competitive and which will be blowouts. Moz and Kouf should be getting big minutes early to build their confidence and to see if they can become a part of the regular rotation. It’s a no-brainer to expand your rotation in games where teams are coming in tired – think Dallas and Utah – and perhaps tighten things up in contests that you know will be competitive.

Playing a predominantly eight-man rotation, like Denver did against Portland, is not a great idea this season. Going small against the Lakers is something we’ve seen done time-and-again as the Nuggets have never had the bodies that they have now.

Today against Kobe Bryant and the Twin-Towers, it’s time to go big or go home.

Views you can use:

  • Lawson is going to use-and-abuse Derek Fisher tonight, that is all.
  • The Nuggets grabbed 10 offensive rebounds against the Mavericks while shooting 49.4% from the field.
  • The Nuggets grabbed 8 offensive rebounds against the Jazz while shooting 48.1% from the field.
  • The Nuggets grabbed just 3 offensive rebounds against the Blazers while shooting an ugly 40.2% from the field.
  • Nuggets rookie Kenneth Faried admitted to being nervous (via Twitter) during his first action as an NBA player against the Jazz. It’d be nice to see the kid get some minutes early this season to see if he can shake off the nerves and become someone the team can use to rebound and defend.

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