The Los Angeles were run off the floor by the Denver Nuggets Monday night, snapping the Lakers' three-game winning streak that they had fired off after the All-Star break, final score 119-108
It was a sprinting marathon if there were ever such a thing. The Nuggets pushed the pace against the sluggish, old, and on a back-to-back Lakers and obliterated them in the paint while doing so. With the bevy of turnovers from the Lakers the Nuggets pushed the pace in transition while whipping the ball around against the non-existent defense they had to "maneuver" around. Lakers score? Denver would be pushing the ball up the court before half the Lakers had even turned their head and crossed the half-court line.
Denver saw the Lakers tongues hanging and dangling out of their mouths and stepped on them as hard as they could. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant pumped life into the uptempo Nuggets by turning the ball over a combined 10 times.
Bryant started the game poorly after stringing together two fantastic 60+ percent, 38+ point performances. He settled for jumpers early in the game and that thin-air in Denver wanted nothing to do with it. Eventually he turned his on-for-seven start into a show in the second half, but the lead that Denver had built early was too steep a hill to climb. Bryant finished the night with 29 points, 9 assists, and 4 turnovers.
Dwight Howard kept himself out of foul trouble after spending much of his night on the bench against the Dallas Mavericks. Howard had 15 points, 14 rebounds (4 offensive), and 4 blocked shots. He was 6-8 from the field, but shot an abysmal 3-14 from the not-so-charitable stripe.
The Nuggets didn't only hurt the Lakers with their pace, though, as they exploited the poor communication and rotations in their defense with the pick and roll. Even if the Lakers moved to help, the Nuggets would simply get the offensive board after forcing Dwight to move away from the rim. There was little to no helping the helper and the Nuggets were happy to take advantage of it. Denver finished the night with 13 offensive rebounds, 44 total on the night.
Denver pushed. Then pushed. Then pushed some more. The Lakers made a fourth quarter push of their own bringing the lead down to single digits, but Denver held off Los Angeles and Kobe's fourth quarter run as well as they could and kept dipping back into the "run up the court as fast as possible" well.The Nuggets dominated the glass with their rotation of big men and activity. Wilson Chandler led Denver in scoring with 23. Kenneth Faried had a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 explosive dunk at the close of the game.
The Lakers are off until Thursday where they face off the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center. A tough loss after making serious progress towards the playoffs. The margin for error just got slimmer going forward, but the window remains opened even if only just a crack.
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- Take a look at Denver Stiffs, where they're probably still doing sprints.