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Inactives for Tonight’s Game:
Lakers: Kwame Brown, Coby Karl
Nuggets: Chucky Atkins, Steven Hunter, Nene
It will be interesting to see what kind of run Ariza gets tonight. Certainly based on the reasons Mitch Kupchak has given for the Lakers wanting Ariza, guarding a guy just like Carmelo Anthony is at the top of the list. Ariza guarded Vince Carter tight, but Carter still hit his shots, we’ll see what opportunity he gets and what level of success he has against a player that has one of the better offensive games in the league.
11:30 – Kobe is starting out on Iverson, we’ll see if the energy he will expend staying in front of AI on the defensive end will take away from his offensive game.
9:02 – The answer thus far is no. Kobe is having no problem exploiting the mis-match he has and has all 7 of the Lakers points. It has an early feeling of Kobe exploding.
7:40 – The Nuggets are getting repeated jumpers from the wings, Martin shows some range, and Anthony has a few as well. Toss in a couple of missed Vlade 3′s and the Nuggets have an early lead.
5:59 – At the first break the Lakers haven’t shown promising signs. Only Kobe and Bynum have baskets and Anthony and Iverson have 6 each, so we haven’t taken them out of their primary scoring avenues. Turiaf comes in for Radmanovic, an earlier entry into the game for Ronny than other games since his injury. It seems opportune to bring him on, Radmanovic’s shot still isn’t falling.
4:40 – Odom drives baseline with foul as his main attempt, you can’t help but say to yourself, “Right hand” as you see him attempt to finish. But, it’s 2 shots and a second foul on Anthony.
3:43 – The turnovers are already piling up. 6 thus far including 5 steals by Denver. And 2 quick Kleiza baskets.
2:24 – The bright spots are Bynum and Kobe. Kobe is at 4 of 7 shooting and is dictating all the positive play on the offensive end. Bynum has 6 rebounds, doing a good job amid the rebounding presence of Camby. That said, it’s a 7 point deficit because the Lakers haven’t been able to keep the Nuggets under control on the defensive end. They’re getting good looks, either set-up by turnovers or not. Walton and Farmar come in, joining Ronny, Kobe and Drew.
:50.5 – Walton makes a sweet pass to Bynum. With the offense stagnating, Luke pulls the ball in a shooting motion and then as the Nuggets prepare to rebound, he passes to Bynum for an easy dunk. Pure guile.
End of 1st: Lakers 21 – Nuggets 33.
The quarter has shown all the demons of the Lakers. Too many turnovers and weak defense, both half-court and in transition. More or less the Nuggets have gotten the looks they want, evidenced by almost 64% shooting (to 37.5% for the Lakers). Their steals are up to 7. The Lakers need to use the movement of the triangle to exploit the Nuggets poaching.
9:33 Carmelo returns for Denver as they stretch their lead to 17 (38-21). It’s been sloppy on both sides, but especially for the guys in gold. Making jump shots just isn’t happening for anyone besides Kobe tonight so far. The only baskets the other guys have made have been within three feet of the basket.
8:12 Back-to-back trey balls by Farmar and Vujacic have cut the Nuggets lead to 11 points and given the Lakers some much needed confidence from the outside. 40-29 Denver.
6:15 Lamar is on a mission to destroy Radmanovic’s 0 for 10 from the New Jersey game last Sunday. With this latest miss he’s 0-8 from the field. Phil is getting restless as the offense continues to sputter even though Farmar is getting ball up the court about two seconds after it’s rebounded. Kobe should be re-entering the game after the TO. Hopfully he can get the offense together and make a run here before halftime. The entire starting lineup is on the court for the Lakers for the last six minutes.
5:30 Lamar definitely would have got on the stat sheet there… if Kenyon Martin hadn’t blocked his shot into the third row. Fish cans a three to make up for it.
4:51 There ya go Lamar. An easy deuce gets Odom going. I’m glad he made it because I was starting to agree with the boo birds. Now I’m back in #7′s corner though.
3:50 Odom takes the ball with authority right past the outstretched arm of a Nugget defender and flushes in home with great prejudice. Lamar’s back in the game. He’s also mixing it up with Kenyon after the play here. While walking past each other to get in position for the in-bounds neither decided to give an inch and the social etiquette showdown was on. Jawing followed a shoulder bump, which should indicated a more spirited matchup from here on out.
2:38 Luke returns for the end of the half, replacing Radmanovic. Radman has been a mess tonight. Plain and simple. He’s tried just about everything he can to get in the game, but he’s been all over the place, like his arms don’t want to do what his brain is telling them to do.
1:26 The most agile 7-footer in the building tonight is definitely Andrew Bynum. Until Marcus Camby or double mircofracture Martin show me a spin move in the lane I’m not going to be contradicted.
:36 – The bloom on the Lakers come-back comes off a bit with a Carter 3.
Halftime: Lakers 55 – Nuggets 57
The Lakers have clawed their way back since the starters came back in. The Lakers were able to exert greater defensive pressure on the Nuggets, their shooting percentage has dipped, only to 51%, but it’s better than where it was. On the offensive side the 3′s have picked up 4 of 10 after starting 0 for 5. The shooting percentage is up to 47% and it’s on the strength of attacking the basket. The points are coming at the basket or from the 3 point line, except for Kobe’s trademark beat the buzzer shot to end the half. Carmelo put forth a strong effort, he’s 8-11 for 16 points. It seemed like every time the Lakers were getting closer he would hit another shot from his mid-range wing position. The fear of his first step has given him space. How the Lakers address his scoring rhythm in the second half could go a long way to determining tonight’s outcome.
Most importantly, there was energy in the legs at the end of the half.
10:21 Was that a Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster, or a successful 3-pointer by Lamar Odom? One of these anamolies has been proven true tonight I’m only ruling out the Loch Ness because the ice underneath the playing surface is firm. Those that have read the blog to this point probably get the feeling that I’m a Lamar hater, but that’s actually farthest from the truth. Just a typically frustrated Lamar supporter.
8:52 The Lakers have gotten off to about as good a start as you can hope for this quarter with Luke Walton replacing Radmanovic to start the half. The 11-0 run give the Lakers a 66-57 lead. That clicking sound is a seat belt that is being installed on Vlad’s seat. That guy shouldn’t see the starting lineup for the rest of the year. His best games have come while running with the second unit, and Walton has had a hard time adjusting to a role with the backups. It just makes sense. I know Phil has committed to playing Lamar at the 3 (another role that hasn’t been adjusted to fully) and putting Luke on the floor would slide Odom to the 4, but it’s becoming more apparent that it’s the smart play.
6:31 Denver has Kenyon Martin guarding Kobe, I guess in an effort to disrupt him with some size and length. It’s not really working. That’s a 19-3 run for the Lakers to start out the half. 74-60.
3:13 If you need any more indication that Phil’s hip is good to go, run back your DVR and check out Phil popping off the bench to call that last timeout (and get in Dick Bavetta’s face). Jackson looked like his legs were spring loaded. That must be the strength you gain from signing a lucrative two-year contract extension. After seeing Bavetta race Charles Barkley at the All-Star game last year I think Phil’s got a chance of catching him if it comes down to it.
0:00 A torrid start to the quarter ended in a 6 point lead for the Purple and Gold. The Lakers went small with three minutes left in the quarter and only lost one point off what was a 7 point lead. Kobe’s got a shot at a triple-double with 24 points, 6 boards, and 7 assists.
10:47 A Farmar 3 brings the crowd to a roar. The second team is on and let’s see if they can execute better than they have in the last few games. Otherwise you can’t see Phil waiting long to bring back the starters, especially after their sterling execution in the 3rd.
9:42 The Lakers defend the inbound pass strong and then fall into a frenzy as the Nuggets scramble to get the ball advanced. Jordan drives the hoop with enough control to draw the foul.
9:13 Radmanovic scored. It was at the basket, not a jumper, but it was something positive and you hope he can build on that because such moments have been long in the coming. Luke sinks a 3, the same 3 he has passed up more than a few times just tonight. It’s now 8:46 and the second unit has provided 3 minutes of rest to the starters and padded the lead to 15.
8:07 So with the lead at 14, how long before the starters come back in, or does Phil stretch it knowing they have Utah away tomorrow night. If they can hold the cushion, it might well be Phil’s plan. But that depends on Sasha continuing to gun with relative success. He won’t stop gunning, as the 3 pointer attests.
6:18 Carmelo is tossed for a foul on Sasha. Sasha grates on people, but it’s tough to say what was the final straw. Sasha is holding his throat. It’s a flagrant 2. The crowd is on its feet trying to sort out the details. It’s worth a game reset: 105-87, no Melo, and the crowd is starting to thin. Apparently they have no doubt that the butter will harden. Oh yes, and the crowd is giving some MVP chants for Sasha. I can only assume pigs are flying outside.
6:02 Another Sasha basket, he’s more machine now than man.
5:22 Did I use superlatives before, now Sasha gets an assist and a steal. Who is this masked man? Ariza and Crittenton hit the floor, apparently many fans promised themselves that they wouldn’t watch either player, because they’re streaming out now.
3:51 Mihm is in now too for Turiaf. The Nuggets, who play the Clips tomorrow in Denver, have opted to match the Lakers sub for sub so now it’s just playing out the string.
2:17 Now the national TV timeout is a curse. Both sides are content to leave this one. Karl doesn’t look likely to go D’Antoni on the situation.
1:08 The cheers are unrelenting. We want tacos. The Lakers held the Nuggets at 99 for about the last 5 possessions. The crowd could not be happier.
Final Lakers 127 – Nuggets 99