PLAYA VISTA, Calif. Thirty minutes after the Nuggets lost Game 1 at the Staples Center on Tuesday night, some Denver players were laughing it up, cracking jokes in the locker room, putting the loss behind them.
Wednesday was more of the same. If the Nuggets are worried about this series, they sure aren't showing it.
Injuries to J.R. Smith (calf), Kenyon Martin (finger) and Renaldo Balkman (ankle) have the Nuggets a little more banged up than normal, but there is no panic in the Denver camp.
The Nuggets' goal in the first two games of the Western Conference finals was winning back home-court advantage, and that's doable with a victory over the Lakers in Game 2 tonight.
"Oh, we're going to respond. I guarantee we respond," Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony said Wednesday. "We're not really worried about trailing. It's just one game. It's going to be a long series and we're going to be ready to go. We're still a confident team."
Nuggets coach George Karl concurred, saying his team "had 20 possessions where we know we can play better." He was pleased with his team's play overall except for critical miscues late. The Nuggets had a 96-92 lead with just over three minutes left.
"I thought we were a very good basketball team the whole game," Karl said. "We didn't finish in probably the hardest place to finish in basketball. And we didn't finish at both ends. We made defensive mistakes without rebounding the basketball. And our offense had mistakes too."
Karl is not worried about his team's ability to bounce back. The Nuggets haven't lost consecutive games since losing three straight from March 6-9. When they lost Game 3 to New Orleans in the first round, the Nuggets responded with a 58-point pounding of the Hornets in Game 4. When the Nuggets lost Game 4 to Dallas, they responded by eliminating the Mavericks from the playoffs in Game 5.
"In general, I think we'll come out and play better," Karl said. "I trust my team is going to play as hard, or harder, than they did (in Game 1). I just think we're going to go out and figure it out. If we go back 1-1 and give our home crowd that opportunity, it'll be a good day in Denver."
Anthony fielded questions about his duel with Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the two Olympians finishing Game 1 with 39 and 40 points, respectively.Ă‚Â
But he shook off any talk of Game 2 being a must-win situation.
"I wouldn't say it's a must-win," Anthony said. "But we have to play like it's a must-win."
"Is it a must-win? No. It's not an elimination game," Martin said. "(If the Lakers win), all that would mean is they took care of home court. It's fine. It's one game. I told the guys, 'Don't get down.' The situation can be overcome. It's not the end of the world. Just come out and play just as hard as we did in Game 1."
Edited by #24, May 21, 2009 - 04:06 AM.