Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nuggets For a Half - No-Guts Overall

(Boulder-CO) Other than how the Nuggets played in the first half, I’m pretty much disgusted with how Denver looked overall. Poor decision making, poor shot selection, and barely any defense left Denver on the side of the highway as the Lakers. cruised to a, 128-114, win.

In the first half, Denver’s defense was lousy. And what makes things even tougher to swallow was how the first half effort by L.A. was just as bad. The Lakers ran a lay-up drill on the Nuggets and outscored Denver 34-28 in the paint. And if it wasn’t for Linas Kleiza scoring ten straight points in the second quarter to put Denver up by 14 at one juncture, the Nuggets may not have even gone into the second half down by only two. Carmelo refused to attack the rim, (something that would really come back to hurt the Nuggets in the second half) despite shooting 6-13 from the field and scoring 14 first half points and Allen Iverson also added 14 despite going 5-10 from the charity stripe. Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith each added another ten off the bench, but Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, and Anthony Carter were MIA.

For the Lakers, Pau Gasol proved to be too much for Denver to handle in the first 24 minutes. Gasol schooled the Nuggets for 18 points, seven rebounds, a block, and five assists in the first half alone. Most of his offense came by way of cruising dunks as not a single Nugget defender could rotate quick enough as he and Lamar Odom butchered the Nuggets interior defense with quick passing. Lamar added nine rebounds and just as many points in the first half while Kobe Bryant fought through foul trouble and a 2-10 start offensively.

Then in the second the Nuggets flat out choked. They had fought hard and to only be down by two in the Lakers’ building put an opportunity in front of Denver, but the Nuggets surrendered 39 points in the third quarter to L.A. while only counterpunching with 22 on the other end.

Opportunity lost.

The 17-point swing was enough to put Denver’s lights out. Hell, Jeff Van Gundy even had time to pronounce Linas Kleiza’s name right in ad-lib color time!

The Nuggets as a team all but disappeared in the second half despite some great individual efforts. Go figure. It’s defensively where this team can’t seem to get it straightened out and the concept that seems to have never sunk in is good defense has to be played as a team.

Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, who was ejected in the fourth quarter, each scored 30 points with ‘Melo snatching 12 rebounds and the Answer dishing seven dimes. Linas Kleiza led the charge off the bench with 23 points and four rebounds, and J.R. Smith totaled 15 points before fouling out. Unfortunately, the three other starters for the Nuggets left a lot to be desired. Anthony Carter and Marcus Camby each only scored four points and Kenyon Martin squeaked out five. Martin was a dreadful 1-7 shooting, Camby was a miserable 2-9 (stop shooting from outside), and A.C. played just 18 minutes in total after proving to have no chance on Kobe Bryant defensively.

For the Lakers, it was all Gasol all the time. The Spaniard finished with a game-high 36 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, and three blocks. If George Karl is going to use Kenyon Martin to try and defend on Kobe, (by the way, Kobe scored 28 second half points to finish with 32) then he is going to have to find a way to hide Carmelo’s allergy to playing any defense. Lamar Odom was guarded by Carmelo primarily in the second half and Odom finished with 14 rebounds (eight offensive) and 17 points. Furthermore, the Lakers managed to shoot 50% (46-92) from the field and 84% (27-32) from the free-throw line.
Conversely, the Nuggets shot a lean 43% (21-48) in the second half, and 43-96 overall, while shooting only 62% (23-37) from the charity stripe. AI was the scapegoat for the poor free-throw percentage. The question is how could the Answer miss six of his 13 free-throw opportunities before getting the early shower?

The good news is the opportunity for the Nuggets to take control of this series is still there if they can steal game two in L.A. and take care of business on their home floor. Remember, both L.A. and Denver were phenomenal at home this year and I still believe that the team that fails to take care of business on their own floor is going to be the team on the short end of this series. Meaning all the pressure is on the home team and the Nuggets need to use a different mode of transportation to the arena, come out loose on offense, ready on defense, and get more of a tangible effort out of a few of their starting five to knot things up a one game apiece when the pressure shifts back to the Mile High.


Anonymous said...

Good point about Camby. When Denver was on the offensive end of the floor, you would find Camby near the arc and I'm thinking to myself "shouldn't he be in/by the lane?"

Denver's ball rotation was disgusting, they could use a page form LA's playbook. One-on-one basketball does not go very far in the playoffs. The Nuggets need to make that extra pass and oh yeah, stay around for the offensive rebound just incase the ball does not go through the net.

And let's not even get into free throws... how does an 80%FT shooter shoot 50%. Each Nugget needs to shoot at least 100 free throws every night until Game 2.

Hopefully, they watch enough videos between today and Wednesday and figure out what they did wrong and do it right in Game 2. And am I the only one that felt like the Nuggets had no clue what they were doing on the defensive end of the floor. I know Denver's Defense is inconsistent and terrible atimes but it seemed like they had no idea what the were doing. It seemed like they were just scrambling around...

Manny said...

How many times did we see somebody extremely bigger backing Anthony Carter in?..

Seriously, after getting swept throughout the season we still don't make any adjustments and, this is the most fired up we can get? by losing by 14??

Not looking good..

Unknown said...

Do these coaches do any scouting reports? Seems not! Memphis, with one of the worst records in the NBA, used the ZONE defense to throttle the Lakers. When Nuggets used the Zone, we cut the lead and actually gained the lead. But, we went back to Man-to-Man and allowed them to put up points in the paint.

The comments regarding AC are right on the money. JR Smith played very well and is much faster on offenseand defense than AC. JR should be starting with AI.

Does this staff want to win? If so, they need to make some better decisions during the game.

ThaAnswer said...

Plenty of blame goes to Karl. The starting lineup he uses simply cannot match up against the Lakers. If you're gonna play K Mart on Kobe, which is fine and dandy, you cannot have AC running the point. He's just too damn small! Van Gundy said as much plenty of times, and Karl didn't make the switch. Immediately followed by a AC flagrant, 4 straight Kobe free throws, and boom we're way behind again. There was plenty of positives to build on, but if we don't have the right personnel in the game we simply cannot win. Whether we win or lose this series, I want Karl GONE.

tylerthesaint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tylerthesaint said...

Do you guys get angry that Carmello dogs it alot on defense? The guy needs to take more pride in his D. Seems like he should be so much better all around. Maybe I dont see them enough but WTF. The team could be amazing, even though they are outmanned inside... somehow need to remedy the D. Not sure if it will ever happen though, Iverson and Smith are paper machee (butchered the spelling)

Anonymous said...

Agh, I hate George Karl and his stupid rotation/matchups!!! Yeah, K-Mart is a good defender -- put him on PAU!! It totally ruins our matchups having M-Mart checking Kobe (Even though he did a good job). He's out there running around with Kobe the whole time and meanwhile, the Laker bigs are getting rebounds, putbacks, and easy dunks. Camby is walking around at the elbow the whole time, missing rebounds... just frustrating to watch. Bigs belong in the paint, defending interior offensive players -- not guarding 2's and wandering around the 18-foot area.

George HAS to start JR (which he won't do) or Kleiza and put them on Kobe unless he absolutely torches them. Right now, Kobe isn't the guy we need to focus on because he's in team-mode this season. We've gotta just keep him fairly on-lock (25 points, less than 5 assists) and make sure he doesn't get everyone else involved. Odom and Gasol are a nightmare matchup for us, but if we actually played a decently-sized lineup, Melo and K-Mart can mostly check those guys.

I dunno, but when stupid stubborn-ass Geroge puts Carter and AI out as starters again, I'm gonna scream. We showed flashes of being able to control the game (what a coincidence -- it was when JR/Najera were in the game for their 20 minutes and we were running zone defense) but Karl sabotaged us by starting AC again at the half (naturally, we go down by 10 before any subs are made).