(Boulder-CO) Things weren't completely terrible in the Nuggets, 104-90, loss to the Lakers, but there were three things that really irked me in the first half.
First off, Denver's defense in the first 24 minutes was deplorable. I thought complete defensive lapses like last night's first half were behind this team, but when everybody wants to selfishly shoot jump shots it's hard to really get juiced on defense knowing you're probably not going to see the ball on the other end of the floor.
That concept transitions perfectly into my next area of aggravation: shot selection. Last night, the wrong people were taking the wrong shots at the wrong time and it really put the Nuggets in the tough position of trying to come from so far behind so early in the game.
Finally, it was clear to me that the Nuggets personnel situation has to change for this team to compete with teams of like caliber to the Lakers if the Nuggets are truly going to emerge as a contender in the Western Conference.
Oh, and one more thing... The Lakers are really, really good.
In the first half, there was no D in Denver. The Nuggets allowed nine different Lakers to score at least a bucket while not making any of L.A.'s talented crew work too hard for it. Of the 28 made field goals by L.A. in the first half, 15 were either dunks, lay-ups, or shots from inside the paint resulting in the Lakers shooting a scalding 62% from the field. And to add insult to injury, L.A. had three players in double figures by intermission while enjoying a 20-point lead, 67-47.
The Denver Nugget weren't doing themselves any favors with their shot selection either and Linas Kleiza's nine minute body of work in the first half serves as a prime example as to why. Would someone on the Nuggets coaching staff please tell Linas to stop chucking up three-pointers or tell 'Melo to take the ball to the hole a few times before completely settling for jumpers? In nine minutes, nine-frigid'-minutes, Linas Kleiza shot four three's out of his six attempts total! Who does Kleiza think he is, Dale Ellis? All I know is had it been J.R. Smith with the itchy trigger finger I can only imagine the backlash that would be going on in the comments section because, "He just doesn't get it", but the truth be told J.R.'s the one fighting for light like a fern on the rain forest floor as guys like LK bomb away without any sort of discretion!
And while on the topic of J.R. Smith, why is Dahntay Jones still starting? Someone please tell me one solid reason... I'll wait... because not allowing a player with the ridiculous upside of Smith to run with the starting five (which could only individually benefit him) when he is obviously the one who by playing those minutes it would benefit the team the most is unjustly retarding the overall development beyond what any of us can probably understand. Dahntay Jones is neither the defensive stopper he originally was billed as or a better threat offensively than J.R. is so it's high time to stop kidding ourselves and play the best five on the team.
As for the rest of the game, Denver did show signs that they learned something after playing such a terrible first half by closing L.A.'s lead to just eleven with seven minutes to play in the third. However, their comeback was short-lived as the Lakers finished up by 21 points entering the fourth quarter as the Zen Master meditated his way to a 10-1 record.
Please don't take my tone as disgust, but rather interpret it as disappointment. I really thought Denver would put forth a better effort against one of the NBA's top teams. Plus, watching Kobe Bryant sit on the bench after playing only 13 minutes in the second half and scoring a game-high 29 points makes me sick.
PS - I’ve had it with Blogger and its inconsistency so I’ve decided to join the Bloguin Network of sports writers. There’s already a new and improved Nugg Doctor in the works so get ready!