Western Conference 1st Round – Game 4
It is May 6, 2012 and the (3) Los Angeles Lakers are prepared to bounce back against the (6) Denver Nuggets. The Lakers started slow, came out flat, got behind early and were not able to recover in their 99-84 loss to the Nuggets.
The Lakers recipe for disaster, that has plagued them all season, was on full display in game three. The Lakers shot 37-percent from the field; shot 6-for-25 from behind the arc and the Nuggets outscored L.A.’s reserves 39-to-9. The Lakers lost the points in the paint battle (52-32) and for the crescendo of their recipe for disaster, L.A. was out-rebounded 54-44.
Despite a slow start and everything, bad happening for the Lakers on the road, again, the Lakers put on a tremendous comeback that simply came up short. The effort and comeback from a 24-point deficit were welcome sights.
L.A. has to bounce back from this setback, make the necessary adjustments to get a win and take a commanding lead in this series.
The Lakers have to come out energized and match the intensity of the Nuggets. The Lakers need to come out focused, control the tempo, get back in transition, control the boards and use a much better shot selection. It is important that the Lakers employ solid ball movement and good player movement to find a high percentage shots.
Note to Andrew Bynum: It’s okay to participate in the game before halftime. Otherwise, you’re just a late arrival to Party McGee.
Note to Kobe Bryant: When you’ve hit just three 3–pointers in seven attempts, you should stop and try something else, like getting to the rim. You’re crafty. You’re talented. You’re the Mamba for crying out loud.
Note to Steve Blake and Matt Barnes: You are THE ENTIRE LAKER BENCH. Not Jordan Hill, not Josh McRoberts and not Troy Murphy. No one expects you two to compete with the 43 ppg for the Denver Nuggets bench, but you’re still expected to produce SOMETHING. Assists, rebounds, steals, blocks – pick a stat.
Note to Mike Brown: You’re wasting timeouts. When your team gets down by more than 10-12 points, call one and have a discussion. You called a timeout when the team fell behind by seven points in the first quarter and then let the Nuggets finish on an 11-2 run.
Note to the Lakers: Having a 2-0 series lead doesn’t mean it’s time to experiment with the game plan. Stick to what works. What works – inside game, points in the paint. What doesn’t work – jacking up threes in transition. Jacking up threes and going 6-25.
“Note to self: the more I play D, the better we’ll be,” Andrew Bynum said after his 10-block game. Tonight, the D was all Denver’s, and it sparked an 18-2 run to end the first quarter. The second quarter found the Lakers scoring as many points as the home team, and they made a third quarter push that erased all but 4 points of that early 24-point deficit. It appeared as though another L.A. team would be making a comeback in these playoffs.
Before the third quarter ended, it seemed whatever ailed the Lakers in the first half had been figured out – Bynum found his game, the offense looked a lot better and the defense held Denver to 12 points for a good part of the quarter. The deficit was a manageable seven points going into the fourth, but instead of spending the final 12 minutes playing to their strengths, the Lakers launched nine three pointers instead and converted one. In 14 field goal attempts for the quarter, the Lakers attempted nine from behind the arc and it cost them a chance to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
It is May 4, 2012 and the (3) Los Angeles Lakers are in Colorado for a pivotal game three against the (6) Denver Nuggets. The Lakers, as expected, took a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series and maintained their home court advantage.
The Lakers two all-stars Kobe Bryant & Andrew Bynum combined for 65 points and led the Lakers to their second win of the series. Denver made several adjustments in game two, were more competitive, got more players involved, played a better all around game, but after 96 minutes of playoff basketball the Nuggets never held the lead and left Los Angeles without a win.
The Lakers have now won 19-of-23 postseason games against the Nuggets. The series now switches from the friendly confines of the Staples Center and moves to the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Lakers won the four game season series against the Nuggets (3-1), the one loss on 1/1/12 was at the Pepsi Center. In Denver, the Lakers were 4-6 in their last 10 regular season games.
In the playoffs win or lose, both teams need to make adjustments, one to maintain their advantage, the other to gain one. Nothing has come easy for the Lakers so to expect that to change in the post season would be dreaming. The Lakers have controlled the action and dictated the style of play in the first two games of the series.
The Lakers have an excellent opportunity to take command of this series with a win tonight. It is imperative that the Lakers defense improves control the tempo, perimeter defenders need to keep the Nuggets out of the paint, control the boards, and limit the Nuggets second-chance points.
L.A. has to do a better job of defending the pick-and-roll play, staying in front of Ty Lawson, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, get back in transition, and quickly rotate out to open shooters, take care of the ball, and limit the Nuggets to one shot per possession.
The combination of Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol has dominated on the inside. However, there is nothing wrong with adding a few pump & ball fakes for JaVale McGee, who blocked six shots in game two. The Lakers need to improve their ball movement and as well as their player movement, to find high percentage shots.
The Nuggets have a lot of depth to come out with a win the Lakers need a contribution from everyone. The Lakers also need a big game from their reserves. The Lakers need to come out with a lot of energy, establish and maintain a lead to take the crowd out of the game and pound the Nuggets on the inside.
It would have been ignorant and delusional to think that the Denver Nuggets would just lay down and succumb to the Lakers after their Sunday afternoon dominance. The Nuggets are a proud team, led by a proud coach, and despite falling short on the scoreboard for the second game in a row, they gave the home team something to really fight for.
The Lakers got off to a fast, efficient start, outscoring Denver 12-3 before the remainder of the Staples Center crowd had even settled into their seats. Despite Denver starting 0-5 from the field, however, Kosto Koufos finally scored on a layup, and ignited the Nuggets into one of their many scoring runs. Unfortinately for them, no run ran long enough to hold off the home team.
After the first half, there was no doubt that Denver had found their fast break mojo, forcing the Lakers on their heels each time they sprinted in the other direction to score. The Lakers didn’t necessarily play badly in the first 24 minutes, but their efforts on defense were clearly not as aggressive as it was in the first game.
Despite reaching a 19-point lead in the third quarter, for example, they allowed Ty Lawson to go on a one-man 7-0 run that cut their lead to just 12 points, and then just 10 points going into the final quarter. The lead teetered from double to single digits, and it went down to as low as four points with three minutes left in the game. Fortunately, the trio of Bryant, Bynum and Ramon Sessions took over late in the fourth and finished Denver off.
NBA Playoffs – Western Conference 1st Round: Game 2
It is May 1, 2012 and the Los Angeles Lakers are back to work at the Staples Center tonight for the second game of their first round series with the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers won the first game 103-88, led by dominant performances by Andrew Bynum & Kobe Bryant. It was a solid playoff opener for the Lakers, very business-like, that has set the tone for how the Lakers will approach the playoffs.
Fresh off of the Lakers 103-88 Game 1 win against Denver, Lakers point guard, Ramon Sessions, joined the Jim Rome Show on Monday to talk about the trade the brought him to LA, his first experience in an NBA playoff game, playing with Kobe Bryant and more. Here is a transcript of the interview:
How is playoff action compared to regular season play?
It was definitely different. Its so much more intense. It seems like one minute out there is like 5 minutes in the regular season. You gotta cherish every possession. But its one of those things where you really dial in, you do your homework and just come out and play the game of basketball.”
“Note to self,” Andrew Bynum told Lisa Salters after the game, “the more I play D, the better we’ll be.” And if today’s effort is any indication of what the young center is planning for the post-season, the doubters may want to temper their predictions of the Lakers’ demise.
Kobe Bryant mentioned last week that their game is built for the playoffs; that slow to moderate half court game that goes against all the glory given to teams who live on the sprint to score for 48 minutes. The Lakers’ success lies in the offense that keeps teams guessing – who should be covered? Who should be doubled? Who can be left open? Despite missing an integral part of their team in Metta World Peace, serving his second of a seven-game suspension, the team adjusted, each Laker played their part to pull out the win by constantly keeping the Denver Nuggets on their heels on both sides of the court.
It wasn’t the smoothest start this Sunday afternoon at Staples Center. After six minutes of the first quarter, the two teams had combined for just 14 points. It wasn’t until the second half of the first when the Lakers’ offense suddenly awoke, thanks in large part to Steve Blake’s back-to-back-to-back shots from downtown. Denver kept close tabs on the Lakers’ big three, with Bynum not attempting a single field goal in that quarter and Pau Gasol and Bryant combining for just eight points on 2-6. The defense, however, kept the double-digit advantage going into the second.
The offensive-minded team that they are, Denver wasn’t discouraged and rattled off a 13-4 run to open the following quarter to close the gap to just four points, but Devin Ebanks’ eight points led the way for a 10-point advantage to end the first half. Bryant struggled, going just 2-10 from the field, but the Laker defense, led by Bynum, paved the way for a successful second half.
The next two quarters only produced a five-point advantage for the Lakers, but Denver got to the free throw line twice as often as the home team, which helped them keep it competitive, until the Laker lead ballooned to 21 points.
Kobe Bryant’s offensive struggles in the first half were behind him, and the Lakers’ defense just intensified as the game continued. The Nuggets, for all their offensive success in the regular season, couldn’t get past the suffocating Laker D and their efforts on Bryant were rendered ineffective as soon as he figured out (which he usually does) how to score and help the team get a 1-0 series lead.
NBA Playoffs – Western Conference 1st Round: Game 1
It’s April 29, 2012 and the (3) Los Angeles Lakers open the first round of the Western Conference playoffs hosting the (6) Denver Nuggets. The Lakers won the 2011-2012 season series against the Nuggets (2-1), after dropping last year’s series (1-2) as well as the 2009-2010 series (1-3).
The regular season is over; the playoffs are a brand new two-month season. The Lakers and Nuggets have matched up five times in the postseason (1979, 1985, 1987, 2008 & 2009), with L.A. advancing on each occasion. The Lakers beat the Nuggets (4-2), in the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Los Angeles has won 17-of-21 postseason games against Denver, losing twice at home (9-2) and twice on the road (8-2).
Since the 1960-1961 season the Lakers have won 37-of-47 opening round playoff series and are 143-76 (.673) over that span. The Lakers are 34-13 in game one’s of the opening round series. When winning game one of opening round, the Lakers are 33-1.
The Nuggets were the league’s top scoring team (averaging 104.1 points per game), number one in assists (averaging 23.95 per game), second in the league in field goal percentage (.476). Denver is the number one transition team, ranks as the league’s best at scoring points in the paint and getting to the free throw line.
Denver has the second youngest playoff roster. The Nuggets are a team that wants to get out in transition and run. Despite being, a young team without a superstar player Andre Miller and Al Harrington provide playoff experience. Denver is a deep team with six players with a double-digit scoring average.
Nuggets shooting guard Arron Afflalo is a talented player and one of only two players on Denver’s roster that will draw the assignment of guarding Kobe Bryant. In 56 career regular season games (including 47 starts), Bryant is averaging 25 points. Kobe has scored 10+ points in a playoff game 159 times.
Be sure to subscribe to the VOTN YouTube Channel for your chance to win prizes weekly! Voice of the Nation hosts, David Brickley, Jason Riley and Kevin Figgers discuss the Lakers top story-lines of the 2011-12 NBA Season.
Question of the Show: Your series prediction for (3) Lakers vs. (6) Nuggets? (Comment Below)
Tonight’s game was so meaningless, not even Lawrence Tanter and James Worthy made it to the pre-game show on KCAL 9. The Lakers had locked up the third seed in the Western Conference two days ago, so Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum predictably sat out the last game of the season. Without their big three in the starting line-up, Metta World Peace serving the first game of his seven-game suspension for the elbow to James Harden’s head last Sunday and Matt Barnes back in L.A. nursing a sprained ankle, Mike Brown worked with the rest of the guys left on the roster.
The Lakers’ activated players tonight were a mixed crew of regular rotation guys and others who saw little to no floor time at all this season. Despite the outcome of this game not counting towards anything significant, like seeding, it was still an opportunity for us fans to see the other side of this Laker team – the youthful, quick, erratic side, that is.
There wasn’t much defense carried out, nor an inside game dominance to speak of. The Lakers were even outrebounded, but everyone who checked in scored, all but one player handed out an assist and all but one player picked up some rebounds. At the end of it, no one was hurt, no one was ejected and the coaching staff got to see what their young players can offer.