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Game 4 Preview — The View from Denver...

I had a dream about the Lakers last night. This is probably not too surprising given the frequency that their games have been popping up on my TV during this post-season.


Anyway, in my dream I was in an elevator with Phil Jackson, Lamar Odom, and about half a dozen newspaper reporters from around the country. I think they were all working on stories on the big, valuable free agent of this off-season. Why Phil Jackson was holding a press conference in an elevator, I do not know. Nor do I know why I was in the elevator at all, since I wasn't scrawling down every utterance Phil made in a little spiral notebook the way all the journalists were.

PJ was going on and on, blah blah blah, about what a great player Lamar was, and how he had a rare set of stills for an NBAer who was 6-feet-11-inches tall.

And I started to laugh and blurted out to PJ that there is no way that LO is 6'11"... I'm 6'4" myself and was in the same elevator with them, bear in mind. It seemed pretty obvious.

Anyway, the elevator stopped and all the journalists and Lamar got off, and Phil and I got off and were walking down the hallway together. He stopped me and gave me some very stern words.

Was I in trouble for contradicting him in front of the media?

Not exactly.

"It is very important not to dispute the official heights published by the league," PJ declared. "People need to think that the heroes of the NBA are 7-feet tall."

Those may not have been the exact words, but they're close.

And that's the end of the dream.

I've long advocated that a professional league that wants the world to believe its referees are honest and its players are drug-free and its game results are unfixed should stop making use of clearly fictional "official" player statistics. But why is the League so opposed, hmmm? Good question.

In fact, inspired by last year's oft-repeated and thoroughly comical fabrication that Portland Trailblazers lottery pick Jerryd "Rex" Bayless is 6'3" instead of 6'1", I have come up with an non-factually based and constantly changing "official" set of measurements myself: Timbo's Subjective Guide to NBA Player Heights. I think I'm closer to the objective mark than the so-called "official" numbers of the NBA, by the way.

Want to see how our Los Angeles Lakers list out by this standard? Want to find out if I ever get to the Game 4 Denver Preview links promised by the title of this post?

Ya gotta click through to the next page of the story...

Okay, here is Timbo's Subjective Guide to NBA Player Heights for your 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers. My thoroughly non-scientific method for calculating these numbers is to start with a basic height that I more or less accept (in this case, that Pau Gasol is 7'0" tall) and then over a long period of time gradually observing other players standing on the floor next to him, finally comparing and slightly adjusting my guesses of accurate height to the "official" stats, which appear in parenthesis...

Trevor Ariza — 6'5" (6'8")

Kobe Bryant — 6'5" (6'6")

Shannon Brown — 6'2" (6'4")

Andrew Bynum — 7'0" (7'0")

Jordan Farmar — 6'1" (6'2")

Derek Fisher — 6'1" (6'1")

Pau Gasol — 7'0" (7'0")

DJ Mbenga — 6'10" (7'0")

Lamar Odom — 6'9" (6'10")

Josh Powell — 6'8" (6'9")

Sasha Vujacic — 6'4" (6'7")

Luke Walton — 6'6" (6'8")

In researching the official numbers for this utterly insipid introduction, I was surprised to learn Lamar is listed by the league at 6'10" (not 6'11", as I I have previously believed). I unscientifically believe the most inflated height is that of Alexander "Machine" Vujacic. There's no way in hell that dude is 6'7"... Quote me.

Oh yeah, game tonight, here are your Denver links:



Nuggets Need Big Answers: Late slumps and setbacks spark key questions for Game 4's test

by Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post

* * *
Tonight's Game 4 is big — Lamar Odom-looming-on-an-inbounds-pass big. For the Nuggets to tie the series and head back to a champagne-free Staples Center, they must solve a quartet of quandaries in Game 4.

Why were the Nuggets so unsuccessful from 3-point range?

Here's how well the Nuggets have shot the 3-ball this postseason. They lead all playoff teams with a 39.6 3-point shooting percentage, and that includes Game 3's 5-for-27 effort. It was bad, reminiscent of the movie "White Men Can't Jump," when Woody Harrelson's trash-talking character offered, "Why don't we take all these bricks and build a shelter for the homeless."

"Offensively," Denver coach George Karl said, "I don't know if we can play any worse." * * *

To elaborate, Karl said: "We got caught up in the emotion of the moment of a great crowd, a great challenge, and we tried to hit too many home runs, rather than just take a single here, double here, and try to win the game that way. We've got to challenge the Lakers to play defense on every possession. I think we took too many shots that they didn't have to play defense. We just played bad offense."

What does Denver need to do to regain its mental focus?

The Nuggets need to turn up the brain. For much of this season and postseason, their forte has been their mental fortitude. Strong focus during victories. Short memories after losses. Indeed, they let Game 1 slip away, but two nights later, they snatched away Game 2. But in Game 3, the 2009 Nuggets looked like the 1999 Nuggets (who weren't good at basketball).

"We gave them layups, we fell asleep on cuts, we had the technicals," said Karl, whose team lost three points on technical-foul free throws. "You take the technicals and cheap layups out, we held them to 90 points, and if we hold them to 90 points, I think we'll win." * * *



Winning at Home Can Be Tall Tale

by Woody Paige, Denver Post

Hey, Aunty Em, tell your wackadoo niece Dorothy Gale - and her little dog too — that home isn't such a grand and glorious place, after all.

Ask the Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers and Uncle Henry.

The Lakers, who almost never lose at home, lost at home to the Nuggets in Game 2, and probably should have lost at home in Game 1.

The Nuggets, who hadn't lost at home in the playoffs and for 16 straight games, lost at home to the Lakers on Saturday night in Game 3, and who knows about tonight's Game 4?

And "The Wizard of Oz" movies make you think everybody, including Judy Garland, lived happily ever in Kansas after the kid returned home, but, in the L. Frank Baum novels, Uncle Henry had a new home built (to replace the farmhouse that did 360s to Oz) but couldn't pay the mortgage. Henry, Em, Dorothy and Toto were evicted and were forced to go on the road.

Home is overrated.

In the NBA playoffs, victories by the visiting team have become as common as calls from telemarketers.

The Nuggets and the Lakers each have won three postseason games away from The Can and The Office Supply Warehouse.

Maybe the basketball gods are disturbed by the trend — and that's the reason they released Old Testament kind of thunder and lightning on Denver on Sunday afternoon after an earthquake in the L.A. area on the afternoon of Game 1.

What's next - locusts? * * *



Forget the Future, Nuggets Must Win Now: Readers talk and columnist Mark Kiszla responds

by Mark Kiszla, Denver Post

* * *
"I wanted to address your recent reference to Nene's 'paranoia' of the referees. If by use of the word you mean he is fearful of something that doesn't exist, I applaud your accuracy. The Nuggets play a physical, in-your-face style of basketball and clearly get away with more fouling than a finesse team does. My theory is NBA refs adapt to a team's style and react to actions out of character." (Michael, student of the game)

Kiz: No major-league sport in America gets the integrity of its games called into question more often by fans than the NBA does. Why? Maybe part of the problem is no league allows its players so much leeway in crying about bad calls or lobbying refs during play. * * *

And today's parting shot asks a tough question: Like a player, does a coach need to pick up his game if he wants to succeed in the playoffs?

"Karl is the Marty Schottenheimer of the NBA — great in the regular season, choker in the playoffs. The Lakers have no business winning games against this better Denver team. The wild card is Karl. History repeats itself." (Brad, Las Vegas)



Nuggets Can't Continue to Die by the 3

by David Ramsey, Colorado Springs Gazette

DENVER • Chris Andersen swooped into Lamar Odom's air space to rudely and cleanly erase his shot. The crowd at Pepsi Center rose.

The Denver Nuggets led by five early in the fourth quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers were staggering. A huge win was right there, ready to be snatched.

And Chauncey Billups missed a quick, deep, senseless 3-point attempt.

The 3-point line holds this false lure. Fire away, far from the hard work required to score in the lane, and you get 3 points instead of only 2.

The arc lured the Nuggets to disaster. Their lazy reliance on the 3 is a prime reason they lost to the Lakers on Saturday night. They now face a brutally tough road to the NBA Finals.

Over and over, the Nuggets drained momentum by settling for long shots. They had endless chances to bury the Lakers, who were resurrected by Denver's silly shot selection. The Nuggets missed 22-of-27 3-point attempts.

The Lakers' interior defense is hardly terrifying. Andersen understands this truth, which explains how he soared to 15 points, dropping 6-of-9 shots, in only 23 minutes.

Andersen is a terrific, energetic defender, but his offensive style is simple. He has few moves. Basically, he jumps high and dares a defender to stop him.

And no one on the Lakers hindered his flights.

Center Pau Gasol is a soft, Euro-style center. Poor Odom is a guard trapped in a power forward's body.

The lane beckons to the Nuggets. It's a place where great things could happen, if they do the hard work required to succeed there. * * *



Series Not Over

posted by "The Cookie Crumbles" to Nuggets Talk message board

This series is NOT over. itll be tough to beat them now after losing this but we were down to the FINAL MINUTE IN EVERY GAME.

It could be 3-0 us, 3-0 them, 2-1 us, 2-1 them thats how close it's been. we could easily lose the next 2, or win the next 2. It all depends which Nuggets team shows up.

We really havent had one GREAT game yet which is due to happen. We need to BLOW THIS TEAM OUT on Monday.



Listened to the Hype

posted by "Newsman35" to Nuggets Talk message board

I think the team listened to the press hype too much about how they've already arrived. It would have helped for them to play a bit scared out there, whether at 4 points up or 8 points up.

They can beat LA, but only if they're willing to leave their guts on the floor for 48 minutes to win it. It seems they feel that this thing should be easy, and when they start to get ahead, they look for the cheap solution such as deep bombs and shoving, rather than posting up and aggressive defense.

I think the whole team needs to look in the mirror, and we'll find out their real character on Monday.



Lakers Relying on Almost Flawless Kobe

posted by "Ruru Revenge" to Nuggets Talk message board

The Lakers aren't really a GREAT 3 pt shooting team in the first place. They have 8 guys that can hit them, but none are great shooters and most are average or below average. They are getting an out of body experience from Ariza in the playoffs. The Lakers rely on the greatness of Kobe and their length — a ton of team's cower to that proposition. The Nuggets aren't about to do that if it's not evident by now.

If Denver takes away the Lakers second chance points, and wins the rebound and points in the paint battle they are a better team IMO.

So far, Kobe has been almost flawless in each fourth quarter. Billups nor Melo have yet to really hit anybig shots in the latter part of the fourth.

From a Nuggets perspective, there is much to be happy about. As a Laker fan I would realize that Kobe has carried me to both wins. How long can he do that?

Sure Gasol has shown some newfound grit in the last game - but that's relatively new for him. Ariza has hit a ton of big shots — how long can that last for a 30% 3pt shooter?

In all 3 games Denver has been the more physical teamand much of the time the better defensive team — and that's not likely to change anynmore than the Lakers long arms shrinking.



Statement Game or Bust (Nuggets/Lakers Game 4 Preview)

by Andrew, Denver

We all know that the Nuggets have to win Game 4 or this series is over. Anyone covering or following this series will tell you that.

What they won't tell you is that merely winning this game isn't going to cut it. In fact — assuming the Nuggets can actually pull off the victory — how and by how much the Nuggets win the game matters greatly. Because three games into the Western Conference Finals, we've seen mostly blown opportunities by our Nuggets rather than great play for four quarters.

The Nuggets were so shaky on Saturday night in particular that Karl had an A-Rod type five minute pause when asked if he was still confident his team during the postgame press conference.

Chauncey Billups captured the game best: "We played hard, but we didn't play smart." * * *

If the Nuggets are to win this series, they must deliver a statement game on Monday night.

  • That means a lot more free throw attempts than fouls committed.
  • Staying out of foul trouble by playing smart defense rather than baiting the refs into silly foul calls. No momentum-killing technical fouls.
  • Capitalizing on their "hump hand" opportunities. Holding Kobe Bryant to 32 or less.
  • Holding the Lakers to under 100 points.
  • Getting Melo field goals attempts in the fourth quarter and especially with less than two minutes remaining (inexcusably, Melo hasn't taken a shot in the final two minutes in all three games).
  • And winning in a commanding way — i.e. not letting another asinine George Karl inbounds play even have the potential of ruining the outcome... * * *



Crybabies vs. Thuggets: What's in a Name

by Brian,

Both the Lakers and Nuggets have created quite the image for themselves this season. Now that these teams are in the final 4, all eyes are on them, and these traits have been greatly exaggerated.

On the LA end, the main culprits of this nickname include Sasha Vujacic, Pau Gasol and their ring leader Kobe Bryant. Even on the most obvious of calls these players scream like little babies, throw their hands up in disgust, and jump up and down during their tantrums. Yes we know Pau, your hands were straight up and down, you might as well keep them up for the next minute to prove to everyone, while showing up the refs, that they were vertical (even though the replay clearly shows the hack). Sasha, just because you have an entire site dedicated to you doesn't mean you're immune to fouls. And for you Mr. Kobe, do you really need to have every foul call explained by the refs? Just put the pacifier back in your mouth and play some ball.

As for the Denver "Thuggets", I think they have really embraced this nickname. It probably came from the fact that they lead the league in tattoos, have had a few incidents with the law and on the court. Some of these altercations include: Melo's DUI , The brawl in NY, and most recently when Mark Cuban called Kenyon Martin a thug. But mostly it comes from the fact that they're not going to let anyone come in and push them around. They play tough D (on most possessions), and if someone gets by them, they're going to foul them HARD as to not give up the easy dunk (even you Dirk).

I'd much rather be called a thug than a cry baby any day of the week. * * *


The Bottom Line:

1. This is a big, big game — arguably the most important in franchise history.

2. The Nuggets need not just a win, but a big win to regain momentum. 

3. Jacking up tons of 3-balls is probably not the best way to do it. The Nuggets need to take the rock to the hole for a change and make sure that Melo has the ball in his hands plenty in the 4th Quarter.

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