Kobe Bryant can score 30 or around that points; Dwight Howard can grab 26 rebounds. Eventually, if you play fast-paced basketball, you’re going to be the Los Angeles Lakers.
For the second time in 12 days, the Denver Nuggets simply outran the Los Angeles Lakers, this time handing the preseason champions for all the wrong reasons their third consecutive loss, dropping to three games below .500 and three games behind the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
Now, the Nuggets aren’t exactly a powerhouse road team. They came into the game with a 8-14 record, with their half court offense usually shutting down on the road. The Nuggets went with the faster approach, giving Ty Lawson the keys to the kingdom again, and George Karl simply let his players loose on a team that has called itself too old and not really connected nearly halfway into the new season.
The Lakers did a decent job in stopping the Nuggets’ half court offense, limiting the visitors to 38.6% from the field on set plays, 0.87 points per shot. The transition is what killed the Lakers, as they couldn’t keep up once again. The Nuggets scored 26 points on 20 transition plays. The Lakers scored just 11 points on 13 transition plays, and went 4-11 from the field in transition. With his loss, as the Lakers fall to 15-18, it is the worst 33-game start in the Kobe Bryant era, going 1-4 since the Christmas win over the New York Knicks.
Speaking of Kobe Bryant, the man who is slowly beginning to shift the blame towards others continues to run a one man offense. Bryant finished with 29 points but on a terrible 11-29 day from the field. No one from the Lakers scored a field goal in the final 15:40, as Bryant went 7-12 and the rest of ’em had 0-10.
Is it Bryant’s fault or the team’s fault? The Lakers playing with Kobe aren’t that bad of players, but when what you leave them with is all the bad shots, while a head coach on the sidelines keeps calling plays for that one player, or when he doesn’t they simply get ignored, you’re not going to see a lot of fine team performances in the clutch. Despite all of the superstars, this is a one-man show, which is sinking faster and faster with every passing game.
The Denver Nuggets are a different story. Ty Lawson led the way with 21 points and 10 assists, the Nuggets finishing with a total of 33 assists field goals. Andre Iguodala had 7, Andre Miller off the bench needed only 24 minutes to finish with a 12 points, 10 assists double-double. They forced the Lakers to 18 turnovers, and simply kept a step ahead, pushing up the tempo every time it looked like the Lakers were getting comfortable with the game.
Are the Nuggets more than a first round playoff team? Only if they can keep this pace up in the postseason, which usually doesn’t happen. An excellent home team, the moment the game slows down they’re in trouble. Against teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, who get more and more conservative as the game reaches the end, it works like a charm. Problem is they’re not going to meet the Lakers in the postseason. Maybe no one will.