Well they had to lose SOME TIME, right? But did they have to lose this way, after a 38-point second quarter and a double digit lead established in the third? Did it have to happen on another Kobe Bryant milestone day, in which he became the youngest player to score 26,000+ points? Did it have to happen on a night that Boston put their second beatdown on Miami and on the Heat’s home floor? Losing is never acceptable or easy, but it’s the way the Lakers lost tonight that’s bothersome – they lost a game that was in their hands to win.

It wasn’t as if the Lakers were mauled in Denver. Carmelo Anthony (32 points on 14-25, 13 rebounds) was the only Nugget who scored more than 18points and no one had any career-defining scoring sprees. The home team never even gained a double digit lead. The Lakers lost this game because A) They thought a 14-point lead in the third quarter was a signal to keep shooting the threeball instead of moving it to attain better quality shots; B) They continually allowed Denver to roll to the hoop with ne’er a gold jersey in sight to stop them; and C) The two players who helped carry/lead the team in the first eight wins chose tonight to stop being aggressive.

The Lakers got their offense by moving the ball in the first half. They had 13 assists on 22 made field goals and had only five turnovers. There was a Pau-led fast break that resulted in a Matt Barnes layup. That was followed by a Kobe-assisted three-pointer from Shannon Brown (19 points on 7-14). In another fast break sequence, Brown weaved in and through Nuggets traffic before passing to Barnes for another layup. And to cap off the second quarter, Bryant threw a lightning-quick pass to Derek Fisher who drilled another three.

With just under eight minutes to play in the third quarter, the Lakers’ 77-63 lead could have, should have, been the beginning of the end for Denver. It was a double-digit advantage that the visiting team should have built on, but instead they played carelessly and mindlessly, jacking up three after three (9-29 from downtown) and failing to rebound missed shots. One 16-0 run by Denver later and it was over for the visitors.

The Lakers’ defense has been in question the last few games, and tonight has been the best showcase of its lack of execution. The prevalence of dribble penetration by the likes of Ty Lawson (17 points on 5-10) was glaring. There was an obvious lack of defensive presence in the paint, especially with Pau Gasol on Nene, and Denver had no choice but to take advantage.

Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, the Lakers’ versatile big men, collected 32 rebounds, but were a combined 7-23 from the field for 20 points. Both are able to shoot from beyond the paint, but when shots aren’t falling from there, as they didn’t tonight for Gasol and Odom, they decided to continue settling for jumpers and off-balance attempts, rather than just attacking the basket. If foul trouble were the reason, their lack of aggressiveness would have been understood, but Odom finished with two fouls and Gasol ended the game with three – hardly a cause steer clear of contact.

Maybe fatigue is finally setting in for Gasol, who has been logging on extra heavy minutes in Andrew Bynum’s absence. If that’s the case, then the young center’s return cannot come soon enough. It cannot be overstated what a significant part of the Lakers’ success is on the shoulders of Gasol and Odom, regardless of Bynum’s presence (or lack thereof), but neither showed any aggressiveness towards either end of the court tonight and the team was clearly affected.

It’s the first loss of the season, and it certainly won’t be the last. Even two-time defending champions need a good kick in the behind every now and then to keep the hunger and the need to improve alive. Let’s just hope maintaining the hunger doesn’t require losses, at least not too often.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts: Since Portland didn’t do the trick, let’s get a take 2 – THIS should be the Lakers’ first real challenge.
Half-time Thoughts: 64-59: The lead has gone back and forth between the Lakers and the Nuggets – it’s a nce, competitive game so far. Ron Artest is leading the way with 15 points and Kobe Bryant has 12 points. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have yet to affect this game.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: The Lakers, for giving away a win.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Kobe Bryant – Yes, he took a lot of shots, but when the two teammates who were helping him with the heavy lifting in the first eight games (Gasol and Odom) suddenly decide to mess with what’s working, what’s the captain to do but take over?

  • highflyer

    correct d title, d score and it was a loss

    • rory

      they were bound to lose that game and the wolves game,thats just ffine we can still go 81-1,no need to panic.wait till big bynum comes back then everyone can chill,sit back and enjoy the ride all the way to 3-peat city….go lakers…!

      • rory

        hoopshype report bynum might return thanksgiving,,thats somrthing to be thankfull for!!

  • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

    Sorry about that. Corrected, thanks.

  • gameplan

    I’m fine 82-0 will never happen. The heat loss anyway.

  • Robert.

    OK, I have to give my usual positive spin:
    .
    1) Denver is not a bad team to lose to. They are ‘technically’ one of the best teams in the West.
    .
    2) Denver exposed their ‘plan’; the Lakers exposed nothing. I’m not sure which team showed up, so the Nuggets won’t know how to beat us in the future when our team shows up.
    .
    3) This takes pressure off ‘Lakers winning 82 games’; and I think it should even take pressure off winning 72 games. The only thing of concern is ‘home court’. I think it will matter more if Boston gets to the Finals.
    .
    4) It’s just one game, and they ‘didn’t play well’, and they could have won. What would have happened if they played well?
    .
    5) Kobe seemed to have a good encounter w/Melo after the game. ‘Hey, Melo, come to LA after the season is over’ (right?).
    .
    6) at least the Lakers weren’t at home when they allowed more than 100 points. So, no ‘real risk’ to missing out on getting those tacos.
    .
    Alright – the last one was a stretch. For some reason, I wasn’t as upset about this loss as I would have been last year. I feel that the Lakers ‘can’ win every game. They are actually ‘truly’ going to have to pace themselves this year, but I predict they will be a ‘juggernaut’ in the playoffs.
    .
    Again, the only thing I’m worried about ‘at all’ is home court. Either the Celtics or the heat will have a lot of wins this year. We just need to keep ahead of that.

  • KaPau

    This game was going really well, until the Lakers went all out shooting 3′s and not moving the ball or defending the paint, I still belive Denver or any other team can’t hang with the Lakers, this is just a bump in the road that will get corrected and on our way to 3 peat.

  • http://therealkobebryant24.com kb24

    Pau didn’t show up, kobe still hasn’t found his rhythm. It’s alright though on to the next one

  • 151RUMMER

    Pau better not be reverting back to his Finals appearance against Boston in ’08…all i saw kast nite was him not being aggressive and kept looking for calls and looking over at the bench to try and justify y he got knocked on his ass by Nene!!!!!!!!!

  • LifeLongLakerFan

    Well I guess tonight proved for the Lakers that they always have to stay agressive and play smart.

  • laker warrior

    so we lost . Big deal Denver got killed buy 21 point s the night before bye indy. Even Phil said they Denver was going to come to play. So no surprise there. Pau really should not be tired all of the game have been easy wins.
    But why not play Character and Theo against some of the bigger stonger centers. And La mar is always do to go in the tank for a few games.
    Play the Killer B s they have energy.

    • 2wenty4our

      Actually, I don’t believe Theo was dressed to play last night, it was the only reason why Caracter was pulled out of reserves or D-League. But I have to say, Pau looked exhausted. As long as we average 7or8 out of 10 games from here on out, we should be OK.

  • Mile HIgh

    Haha. I told ya’ll the Lakers would fall to Denver. Congrats to Kobe for getting 26,000 points. Too bad it had to take 26,000 shots to get there.

    • 2wenty4our

      Wouldn’t that mean that he shot 50% in his career so far? I’m no math wiz and I can definitely be wrong but if lets say all he took was 26,000 2-point shots and only manage to come up with 26,000 points, that would mean he only made 13,000 buckets out of 26,000… hmmm looks like 50% shooting.

    • “laffs atu”

      WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP DUMB ASS! THEN LAKER NATION WILL GIVE YOU’RE SORRY ASS THE TIME OF DAY!

      • Lakers4life

        Amen! Talk to us in June Laker Hater.

    • rory

      YOU CAN COMMENT WHEN YOUR BOYS FROM MILE HIGH WIN A C’SHIP,CARMELO COULDNT REACH 26000 EVEN TILL HE PLAYS LIKE HIS 80ish,hahaha…

  • Mike Sanders

    I hate the way Kobe is playing this year. He isn’t letting the game come to him, it’s like he is in a personal battle with himself. His body is saying no but his confidence is saying yes. The harder he tries the older he looks. I’ve followed Kobe his whole career and yes he’s still the shit but he’s not what he used to be. I hope he finds his swag for at least one more ring.

    • andy

      I agree. he doesnt look like he trusts his shot, especially his free throws. but i do believe he is intentionally easing into it the slowest hes ever done because hes not 100% and plus, lets face it, he is no longer 25. me, you, or him dont want to see him pooped out by playoff time because he tried to prove something in a regular season. everything will fall into place as time goes on though.

    • 242LakerFan

      He is having a personal battle with himself – or part of himself anyway. His knee, whatever he says, is not 100% healed. He is still trying to figure out how to shoot with a relatively new wrap on the finger. And he has a team that hasn’t been holding up their end for a couple of games.
      He doesn’t want to become 2006-7 Kobe, but the tendency is always going to be there when the team starts slacking. It’s like a reflex.
      BTW, Mile HIgh, shallow breather, get your shots in now, because come spring, we own the Mild, High City as usual!

  • Positive Effect

    @Mike how can you find a swag when the coaches wont let him practice at full speed…Kobe & Fish shoot during practices until the team get to the playoffs. That’s the coaches choice this year. It’s like being a track star…everybody can stretch before the race but he’s not allowed but yet he has to get in the blocks and still win the race like he always has…smh cant be done all the time !

  • LAland

    Pau had a serious collapse and kobe was pisss at him…neni killed gasol wtf happen there and what happen to LO?? we was up by 14 then we started shooting 3 then we collapse big time, Damn brown had the best game but we lose gasol need to wake up he was soooooooooooooooo soft ………….

    • andy

      we lost because gasol decided to leave early and pjax wanted to let odom watch the game

  • sancho

    Gasol looked way too soft last night. Gasol looked very reminiscent of the 08 finals. Nene roughed him up and punked him hard. My gut feeling all along has been telling me that we may need another big man just for insurance purposes only. For times when Drew is injured and Gasol gets soft and tired.

    • Lakers4life

      I thought the same thing last night.
      No one was aggressive last night. Looked like everyone was out of whack except Shannon. I think they forgot how difficult it is to play in that Altitude in the Mile High City. Too bad. We should have had that game.

  • LAKER BOY_82

    wow they loss 1 game big deal, I guess its gonna be 81 & 1

  • DCLakeshow

    Needless to say…the 2nd half was very frustrating to watch. Unlike some of the earlier comments, it didn’t seem as if Pau had resorted to ’08 Pau, but TO ME, if you looked at his shots, and effort on defense, it seemed as if he had ABSOLUTELY no lift at all. I don’t think it was a lack of being physical, but a lack of energy. This isn’t an excuse, but let’s face it, he’s really been our go-to guy so far this season. WITH THAT SAID…as a guy rated the “best big man” in the league, you have to find ways to contribute whether on offense or defense, which he did neither. AND ALTHOUGH…most won’t say it…yes…we do miss Bynum, when going up against physical teams such as Denver.

    KOBE..my man…put way too much on himself late 4th quarter. When we got the lead down to four, and he came down and took that unnecessary 3pt’r…that pretty much sealed the game. However, it was more than that, because the overall shot selection (even on some of the makes) just didn’t seem like smart basketball. The same can be said for both Steve Blake and Matt Barnes.

    Oh Well….it’s the first loss of the season, but I like the fact that our leaders are calling out their poor play earlier rather than later.

  • Mile HIgh

    Welcome back Gasoft!!!!!!!

    • LakersFirst

      I guess the Lakers wanted to give Carmelo a going away victory. Come February, he and Billups are out of Denver and the Nuggets get sent back to expansionism. No championships anytime soon for Denver.

    • “laffs atu”

      Mile HIgh, once again you’re head is in the clouds! Should I bring up the title comments again! We have nothing to prove to you, or you’re Denver Thuggets! We have won a title already dumb ass! SIXTEEN OF THEM! This is just a bump in the road for the Lakers to THREEPEAT, AND SEVENTEEN! TALK TO US WHEN YOU GUYS WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP! Go back to playing you’re NBA live 2010 video game and win a championship for you’re Denver Thuggets PUNK!!!!!!

  • Robert.

    I’ll say it again: I wasn’t worried at all by this loss. Last year (& esp. the year before), Denver looked like a ‘tough’ team to beat. They had thugs, and were pushing the Lakers around. They don’t look the same this year. Not quite as tough, and I’m ‘sure’ the Carmelo drama is affecting their play (they were ‘very’ affected by George Karl’s absence last year – their team runs on Karl/Melo).
    .
    The Lakers ‘lost’ this game, which is something I wouldn’t have said last year. In fact, I don’t think any team will actually ‘defeat’ the Lakers this year – they will only ‘give a game away’ if they lose, like last night (exception might be the Celtics, who might be the only team to have the true strength to win).

    • pillzmayn

      Yeah I think their biggest threat is themselves

      • Lakers4life

        I agree. The Lakers beat themselves. No defense, no ball movement in the last quarter and throwing up those darn three balls. Drives me crazy!!!

  • Robert.

    I’m looking forward to Melo going to the Knicks (to re-create the Lakers/Celtics/Knicks triad of years ago – sorry, leaving out miami), OR, if Denver lets the contract expire, having a chance for Melo to come to the Lakers!! I think Kobe would like that, but I’m not sure how it would ‘get done’ (or if it even makes sense, since we don’t need another player in his position).
    .
    Either way, this is last possible year of Denver ‘glory days’. Sorry about that Mile High – but it was a good run. Melo just belongs in a ‘big city’. I’m sure you’ll see his level of play go up from that! Knicks would be the best destination – tag team of Amar’e and Melo would be a good threat to miami, and the Celtics. And he would thrive in D’Antoni’s up tempo offense (doesn’t have to play defense – well, he doesn’t play D much anyway, so it’s a good fit).

  • pillzmayn

    I’m still pissed about the loss Kobe will have to play with the team I don’t want to blame him but when he plays like that we lose when he pass the ball more we win I don’t see the same teamwork that I saw in the beginning of the season. Bynum is missing right now

  • Julia

    Hey guys! Sasha will be at the AT&T store in Newport tomorrow from 4:30-5:30! See you there! 4678 Campus Drive.
    http://www.vujacic.net/

    • Robert.

      … is Sharapova gonna be there too?

  • Jeff

    I also believe we would have won if there were proper timeouts called in the fourth quarter. Seriously, we just let them run the ball and the court in the fourth. I even remember the announcers saying something about it and they zoomed the camera on phil jackson.

  • LAkerfAnFrom UCr

    The Lakers played lazy in the fourth quarter, period. with a minute left they were only down 4, what did they do? chuck up a three, and of course missed. it was obvious they didnt care too much for this game which is actually ok with me, denver on the other hand sounded like they had just won a championship! it was ridiculous! the lakers are fine i can understand them not being too pumped over a regular season game after 2 straight championships! tht is a lot of basketball games being played. the excitement isnt the same anymore, just wait till the playoffs they will beast it!

  • Lakeshow Lovr

    In my opinion this was a good loss for the Lakers. Why? Well because it doesn’t give them a big ego and think they can every game easily. But that’s just my opinion

  • gugy

    I think the loss is a good thing. Keep the guys on check and not too complacent. In the end losing here and there is a good thing.
    Screw beating the Bulls record. I much rather have a ring.

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