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Game 3 Preview — The View from Denver...


Well, I am rooting for Orlando in the Eastern Conference this year.

I know this for sure.

My wife knows this for sure.

My neighbors know this for sure.

I haven't cheered so loudly or swore so violently at my television for any NBA game this year as I did for Game 2 of the Magic-Cavs matchup. 

Hedo wins it with one second left! 


Lebron wins it back with no time on the clock!  


Hell of a game.

I don't think my wife is leaving me over the outburst, but the cat has certainly been steering a wide berth recently...

Well, tonight it's Episode 3 of the Lakers' on-again/off-again quest for a big golden trophy and sparkly diamond rings. This time it is in Denver, who has lost there exactly zero times in this season's playoffs.

It will be a tough task.

Let's see how the Usual Blue-friendly Suspects are spinning this one, shall we?

(Click through for more stuff...)



Adjustment time for L.A.: Despite pedigree, uncertainty, uneasiness linger for top seed

by Anthony Cotton, Denver Post

Although it wasn't delivered with a big guffaw, a day after the surprising/confounding loss to the Nuggets in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals, Kobe Bryant was able to find some humor in all the drama that has engulfed the Los Angeles Lakers like a deep fog rolling off the Pacific.

"It's funny," Bryant said Friday afternoon. "Game 2 comes down to some plays down the stretch, some calls here and there — now it's like we have to reinvent the wheel. We'll just do what we do."

But to some, "doing what they do" is the blessing and the curse for Los Angeles. As 65 regular-season wins and the conference's top-seed would attest, the Lakers are obviously a talented team. Everybody knows that including it seems, Los Angeles'players. So while they're capable of dominating teams, as was the case in a 40-point rout of Houston in Game 5 of the conference semifinals, they're also capable of a sense of superiority or entitlement that costs them games - as was the case in Game 6 of that series.

It might have been considered promising, that, after a practice and film sessions that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours, the Lakers acknowledged that with the series against Denver tied at 1 and moving to Colorado and the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets haven't lost since early March, it was incumbent upon them to make some adjustments.

"It's on us," Bryant said. "It's always the team that loses that makes the adjustments. It's kind of a back-and-forth thing." * * *



Nuggets relaxed, confident

by Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post

MARINA DEL REY, CA. - The Nuggets have an overwhelming home court advantage, undefeated at home since March 9, and now, suddenly, they have home court advantage in the Western Conference Finals, after splitting the first two games against the Lakers at Los Angeles.

"We worked all year to get home court advantage, and we took care of that in the first two rounds, and we were able to steal it from the Lakers, and now we're in a similar situation," Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said today at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. "We have home court advantage until we lose a game at home, and hopefully we don't. I think most teams play with more confidence at home, 20,000 people screaming for you, pulling for your every more. We're in a fortunate situation and we don't want to give that back." * * *



Anthony Elevates Game: Nuggets star aims to be one of the best ever, and these playoffs prove it

by Chris Dempsey, Denver Post

LOS ANGELES - When his playing days are over, Carmelo Anthony has a clear view of how he wants to be remembered in Denver.

"I want to be one of the best ever," the Nuggets' star forward said. "I want to be one of the best to ever touch down in town. When you think about that, you think about the (John) Elways, and you think about what Alex English did, and David Thompson did, without even winning a championship. So imagine if I can bring a championship or a couple of championships to that town, the mark that I would actually leave?"

Anthony is off to a great start in the Western Conference finals, with back-to-back sensational games in Los Angeles as the series, tied 1-1, moves to Denver tonight. His numbers this postseason - 28.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 50 percent shooting — are by far the best of his career.

"I think you're seeing a very, very impressive run by a guy that's been anxious to be here," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "But now, once he's here, he's shown that he's for real."

Anthony, in the space of three weeks, has etched his face next to his peers on the Mount Rushmore of the 2003 draft class — LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Wade has an NBA title. James has an NBA Finals appearance. Anthony is three wins away from his first NBA Finals appearance. * * *



Give Nuggets GM credit for moves, non-moves

by David Ramsey, Colorado Springs Gazette

For months, Mark Warkentien was Mr. No.

NBA teams repeatedly called with an inquiry, which went something like this:

We hear you want to get rid of Carmelo Anthony. We want him. Can we talk trade?

No, Warkentien said. The calls kept coming. He kept saying no.

"It took the marketplace months to understand that we weren't trading Melo," Warkentien said. "The perception became that we were open to it, and we never were."

Warkentien, Denver's vice president of basketball operations, is enjoying deserved applause for moves that turned the Nuggets from flimsy to mighty.

He was named the NBA's Executive of the Year for saving Dahntay Jones from the basketball junk pile, taking a chance on Chris Andersen and, especially, trading Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups.

But his best decision was the move he didn't make. He refused to trade Anthony, showing stubborn belief in a player who had made a multitude of mistakes.

No doubt, Anthony has been worthy of Warkentien's faith. He's led the Nuggets to nine wins in 12 playoff games, and his show keeps getting better.

This week, he has punished the Lakers while turning the Western Conference finals into his personal party. * * *



Game 3 Preview: Nuggets vs. Lakers

by Nate Timmons, Pickaxe and Roll

*  *  *

After watching the Altitude post-game report late Thursday night Scott Hastings informed us that J.R. Smith was basically playing on 1 1/2 legs and he noted that J.R. was just not getting his proper lift. Having only one game off inbetween games does not provide for a lot of rest, but I'm hoping it'll be enough for J.R. Swish to make his first appearance of the series.

I noticed in Game 2 that J.R. attempted just a few drives and when he did he was not really looking to get up to the rim. I don't quite know if this was because of the injury or not (hoping it was), but if J.R. was not himself ... it was good to see him making some other plays out there. * * *

J.R. grabbed 4 rebounds, dished out 3 dimes, and had a block in game 2 to go along with just 3 points on 1-6 shooting. J.R. has sort of turned himself into a one dimentional guy in this series taking 9 of his 13 shots from beyond the arc. If he's going to be out there playing then he must find the will to get himself to the rack. We saw Josh Howard do it last series on two bad wheels and now is the time to battle through injuries. * * *

Linas Kleiza is back in the rotation ... for now. LK's game two performance will not be forgotten ... not by the fans, but more importantly, not by George Karl. With J.R. not in a groove and Denver's bench needing a lift, LK will be in the game tonight. It's completely up to the Lithuanian how many minutes he'll play. I don't think there is a single person who knows the Nuggets that is thinking LK is totally back after such a surprising game, but we've seen LK heat up before. Kleiza is streaky, but if he's heating up right now ... Denver's bench is going to be solid.

Klieiza's 16 points and 4-7 shooting from deep won game two for Denver. LK provided that spark usually seen by J.R. this season and helped Melo's cold 1-6 start not look so glaring. Karl pointed out LK's 5 defensive and 3 offensive rebounds as his biggest contributions and Karl wont hesitate to call on #43 tonight.

With LK on the floor Denver is a much bigger team. The 6'8'' 245 pound tweener (small forward/power forward) gives Denver a much more diverse option. Like LK said in his post-game interviews ... when he's out there he's going to get open looks because he's not the focal point of the offense. If he continues to hit some shots and shows hunger for the boards then I'd like to see him out there playing.

Dahntay Jones must adjust to the refs. Jones picked up two quick fouls on Kobe when he placed his forearms on Kobe under the free throw line. The first whistle should have shown DJ that the officials were going to call the quick foul ... on the very next inbound Kobe got the ball and Jones again placed his forearm on him under the free throw line and what do ya know ... another whistle. Jones should have known better on that play. Dahntay is pretty overmatched against Kobe and he's not going to get the benefit of the doubt from the officials for anything so he must figure out a way to maximize his time on the floor.

Perhaps aside from making Kobe work a bit getting his shots, Jones should look to drive the ball on Derek Fisher. Jones is an athletic freak and should take advantage of having the aging Fisher on him. * * *



2009 Western Conference Finals Game 3: Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Game Thread

by Jeremy, Roundball Mining Co.

How long can the Denver Nuggets continue their home court dominance? They have won 16 straight games in the Pepsi Center and so far in the 2009 NBA Playoffs the Nuggets have won each of their six home games by at least 12 points.

Of course the Los Angeles Lakers are not the New Orleans Hornets nor are they the Dallas Mave ricks. As Kobe Brant has enjoyed pointing out after game two the Lakers had the best road record in the NBA at 29-12. To put that in perspective there were 20 teams who failed to win as many as 29 games at home.

To expect another home blowout might be presumptuous. Of course, after the four conference finals games that have been played the Nuggets three point win in game two has proven to be the largest margin of victory. One of these games has to be over before the final possession, right? * * *

After two games I do not know that any of us have a better grip on what to expect. Was the resurgence of Linas Kleiza for real or was it a one night only special event? Are Anthony Carter and Dahntay Jones both going to be restricted to spot duty? Will George Karl trot out the big lineup again? Will either of these teams run? Can the Nuggets keep the battle on the boards even or will the Lakers size slowly wear them down? Is this all we can expect out of J.R. Smith? Is this all we can expect from Lamar Odom? Is this all we can expect from Andrew Bynum? Will Nene be the guy who scored 14 points in the first half of game one or will he be the guy who scored six points in the three halves since then? How long can Kobe carry this team on both ends of the floor? Will Phil Jackson demote Derek Fisher from potential game two hero to watching Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown from the padded folding chairs? Who will blink first Kobe or Carmelo?

Pretty much all we do know at this point is both of these teams seem to be very evenly matched and you do not want to build up a double digit first half lead and end up scoring 103 points. That has not worked yet. * * *



A Dream Fulfilled and a Game 3 Preview/Prediction Posted

by Johnny Domenico, Nuggets' Nuggetz

I don't have much time to post a preview today as I'm DJ'ing a wedding today in an hour and 15 minutes under the alias "DJ JD aka The Palindrome", but I wanted to throw up a quick post for a couple reasons.

One is that this could be the #1 game in the history of Nuggets' hoops. I realize we throw around superlatives like crazy these days, in fact, this might be the most superlativest time in history, but I still think that with all the elements involved, this could be the most exciting NBA game ever played in Denver. I had to switch out my ticket for tonight's game thanks to my DJ gig, but I can't even imagine what it's going to be like in the Can this evening. I feel confident that the Nuggets will take care of business. It will be another hard fought game, but I don't think this one comes down to the last shot: Denver 112 - LA 104. * * *



And now we're favored to win the series. So gritty.

by Butterfield, The Chris Andersen Files


Hitting free throws in the 4th.

Carmelo being the best player on the floor.

Good, hard fouls.

Bouncing back after playing maybe the worst 15 minutes of ball all season.

Credit to Karl for rolling with an odd, but almost perfect rotation.

And this play:



The Bottom Line:

1. Our Nuggets have the big advantage in this series — home court advantage. They are undefeated there during the playoffs, winning by an average of 12 points. The home floor must be defended.

2. The Lakers are better than the previous opponents of the Nuggets, but are not particularly ominous.

3. Carmelo Anthony has taken it to another gear and is the biggest reason that Denver will beat LA in this series.

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