Los Angeles Lakers (15-17, 102.8 ppg, 100.5 ppg allowed)
- Dwight Howard (17.4 ppg, 56.4% fg, 1.9 apg, 12 rpg)
- Pau Gasol (12.2 ppg, 41.2% fg, 3.9 apg, 8.5 rpg)
- Metta World Peace (13.2 ppg, 41.9% fg, 1.7 apg, 5.8 rpg)
- Kobe Bryant (30.5 ppg, 48.3% fg, 4.7 apg, 5.2 rpg)
- Steve Nash (10.3 ppg, 54.8% fg, 8.3 apg, 2.6 rpg)
Denver Nuggets (19-16, 101.7 ppg, 99.2 ppg allowed)
- Kosta Koufos (7.7 ppg, 59.8% fg, .6 apg, 6.5 rpg)
- Kenneth Faried (12.2 ppg, 53.4% fg, .8 apg, 10 rpg)
- Andre Iguodala (13.9 ppg, 44.9% fg, 4.4 apg, 5.7 rpg)
- Danilo Gallinari (16.1 ppg, 40.5% fg, 2.4 apg, 5.5 rpg)
- Ty Lawson (13.7 ppg, 41.6% fg, 6.7 apg, 2.6 rpg)
6:30 pm PST
It's that time again; time for the Lakers to stop the bleeding and get back to the chase of playoff seeding. The peaks and valley thing is becoming a tiresome activity that leaves everyone invested nauseous. The Lakers have been like a roller coaster, the chains tugging them as they climb the steep slope.
Click, click, click, click, click...
The view from the top of their ascent can be breathtaking. Basketball bliss as they dissect opponents and lock in, if only for stretches, defensively. The sheer amount of talent, albeit aged talent for the most part, is evident when they play up to their wonderful potential. The issue, as has been mentioned a plethora of times here, is the inconsistency. Whether it's through quarters, halves, games, or weeks the Lakers have continued to look like a beautiful disaster. The drop from the top, however, is the most nauseating part.
So, here we are again. Strapped in tight to the Lakers roller coaster. A blur of purple and gold steel flying up and down the tracks. After losses to the Nuggets, 76ers, and Clippers we're right back at the bottom, waiting for the Lakers to once again lift us high into the sky. The unfortunate part, perhaps, is that the next ascension begins against the Denver Nuggets; the same team that brought the Lakers back to the bottom a day after the exalting victory over the New York Knicks on Christmas day.
Since the teams last meeting the Nuggets have rotated wins and losses, going 3-2 over the last five. Most recently they dominated the Utah Jazz last night in a 110-91 route. The Nuggets will be coming into the game off a back-to-back while the Lakers were off yesterday (but had a full practice).
When the teams last met on December 26th the Lakers defense was dismantled and looked about as orderly as a giant bucket filled with 1000 Legos. Ty Lawson controlled the game with 17 points and 14 assists; a complete mismatch for Steve Nash. Whether it was through the use of pick and rolls, or isolation, Lawson took whatever he wanted from the Lakers. It was Corey Brewer, though, who took to sending the Lakers roller coaster plummeting to the bottom. His 27 points (6-7 from deep) were about as unlikely as it gets. Or not, considering the Lakers continue the long-standing tradition of giving random rotational players the opportunity to breakout and feel the rush of basketball greatness.
There's plenty of picking apart to do looking at that game, but it comes down to one simple figure: 126. The Lakers gave up 126 points, while also putting up 114. Two players on the Nuggets scored over 20 points, three players on the Nuggets scored over 15, and that's simply too many points to endure. Scoring 114 points and losing in a non-overtime game is completely unforgivable. The Lakers will need to successfully defend both the pick and roll, and dribble penetration from Ty Lawson in order to find success tonight. At some point, the defense will need to decide what exactly their game plan is when it comes to help defense and refrain from finger-pointing and looks of disdain when a failure occurs.
A final note, both Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill will play tonight after reports came out that both were "probable" yesterday. Both of them will need to be active and engaged going up against rebounding machine Kenneth Faried.
On This Soundtrack
311 - Beautiful Disaster
- Follow this author on Twitter @BallReasons
- Shoot over to Denver Stiffs, where they are likely injecting Red Bull into Kenneth Faried's veins.