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Baseline to Baseline recaps: Denver makes lay-ups, beats L.A.

Jan 2, 2012, 2:38 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant AP

What you missed while breaking your New Year’s resolutions already…

Nuggets 99, Lakers 90: Best game of the night and there was a little fire to this one — second nights of a home-and-home often carry over some tension. Denver jumped out early with Kobe Bryant shooting only 1-of-10 in the first half and the Lakers as a team hitting just 32.4 percent of their shots in the first 24.

But the entire second half and fourth quarter was pretty close. It was 90-88 Lakers with 2:45 left when Denver closed it out on an 11-0 run. First Kobe took a three that Danilo Gallinari ran out on then released and nobody went with him — Kobe missed, the Nuggets rebounded and threw it down for a cherry-pick dunk. The Nuggets got their next bucket on a steal off a bad Kobe pass that became a 2-on-1 fast break. Teams can run on the Lakers and the Nuggets did it. Then Kobe missed another three (1-for-8 from deep, 6-for-28 overall for the game) and that was pretty much it.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were 15-of-27 (55.6 percent), the rest of the Lakers 20-of-61 (32.8 percent).

Heat 129, Bobcats 90: This game was pretty much what you would expect (as opposed to last Wednesday when the Bobcats hung tight with the Heat). Well, except for the part where LeBron James was really quiet for the night (16 points but no buckets until late in the second quarter). This was Chris Bosh’s night, he was aggressive from the start and finished with 24 points on just 13 shots. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole made a very efficient point guard combo. And we have your ridiculous Heat highlight of the night.

Magic 102, Raptors 96: Toronto was in charge of this game, playing aggressive and getting to the free throw line for a change, in part because Jose Calderon was attacking off the pick-and-roll (18 points, 13 assists, one turnover). Then midway through the fourth quarter Orlando went on a 16-0, took the lead and kept it for the win. Orlando did it first with defense, closing out Calderon and not letting Andrea Bargnani (28 points) just pick-and-pop at will. But in the crunch this looked like the 2009 Magic, with Hedo Turkoglu looking strong on the pick and roll and J.J. Redick stepping up with 21 points off the bench on Sunday (3-of-5 from deep).

Celtics 94, Wizards 86: The Celtics are better than they looked the first couple games. The Wizards are as bad as they looked the first couple games. Boston was in control of this one, mainly because Rajon Rondo putting up a triple double (18 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds). Boston got a comfortable win while resting their starters for long stretches. John Wall looked better, heck Washington looked the best they have this season, but that’s not enough against Boston. Or most teams.

Cavaliers 98, Nets 82: Sloppy game. But it was close until midway through the fourth quarter when every perimeter shot the Cavaliers put up went through the hole and they went on a 20-4 run pull ahead comfortably. Among the hot hands late was Daniel Gibson who had 8 in fourth, finished with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting and knocked down 5-of-7 threes.

Timberwolves 99, Mavericks 82: This ends the Wolves 18-game losing streak going back to last season. Kevin Love had 25 points (with five threes) and 17 rebounds and knocked the biggest shots of the game. This was a two-point game when Love drained two three pointers in a row leading the Wolves to pull away. Dallas… ugh. They are inconsistent and that felt like a step backwards.

Kings 96, Hornets 80: Who needs DeMarcus Cousins? Apparently not the Kings who got their second win, this one without him. Tyreke Evans had 27 but this wasn’t really about the Kings playing great as much as it was the Hornets playing terribly (once again without Eric Gordon) — Jarrett Jack had as many turnovers as assists (eight each) and as a team New Orleans was 0-15 from three.

Bulls 104, Grizzlies 64: Home opener for the Bulls and they came out and dominated the Grizzlies from the opening gun. It was 54-28 Bulls at the half as the Grizzlies shot only 26.8 percent. It got up to 31 percent for the game. We’re going to assume the Grizzlies had a really good New Year’s Eve and this is just the hangover.

A few injuries of note. Richard Hamilton didn’t play due to a groin injury and is day-to-day. Zach Randolph left in the first half with a sprained knee. He could have returned but what was the point in this thrashing? He says he is day-to-day.

Clippers 93, Trail Blazers 88: The Clippers came out with real ball pressure and that meant Portland started out ice cold, had just 17 points in the first quarter after shooting 33 percent for the first half. The Clippers pulled away as the game went on… then Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum almost changed it around. The Blazers bench stars combined for 24 in the fourth quarter and made a game of it, but the Clippers held on. Blake Griffin had 20, Caron Butler 19.

And of course there were big dunks.

  1. omniusprime - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    Poor Kobe looked old and tired last night against Denver, could hardly make a shot yet he kept throwing up long range bombs like he was the only offensive option. Mike Brown’s defense looks crappy, especially against a running team. The problem is the Lakers have no offensive system in place to replace the Triangle. Brown had better spend more time installing an actual offense because his defensive system isn’t working. Kupcake made a huge mistake bringing in Troy Murphy who makes Steve Flake actually look good. Kupcake had better make some big impressive trade before the trade deadline or the Lakers will get trounced in the first round of the playoffs if they even make it as an 8 seed.

    Sorry but a .500 record is unacceptable to Laker fans who expect to be vying for another championship. Brian Shaw would have been a much better choice for coach this year, a major blunder by Dr. Buss to sweep away the Phil Jackson era!

    • mytthor - Jan 2, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      ” Mike Brown’s defense looks crappy, especially against a running team.”

      Lakers are 4th in the league in points allowed. Transition defense is a problem, but when Steve Blake is the youngest guard in your rotation, that’s going to happen. No defensive scheme is going to make old guys younger.

      “The problem is the Lakers have no offensive system in place to replace the Triangle”

      No, the problem is Kobe shot 6 for 28. That’s not good in the Triangle, either.

      “Kupcake made a huge mistake bringing in Troy Murphy”

      I don’t see how you can make a “huge mistake” by signing someone to a minimum contract. You think they should have got Smush Parker instead? Kupchak had a bad offseason, but signing Murphy doesn’t make much difference either way. He sucks, but guys making that much are supposed to suck.

  2. maddenwizkid - Jan 2, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    It’s still early the west is up for grabs although you’re pretty much rite about all u said, try and relax cuz there are plenty of games left to attain chemistry and what not, but yes this is a slow start for an aging team with holes and questions everywhere and mike brown is not Phil Jackson but he’s also not the problem honestly kobe is on sum bs this year and I’m only saying that cuz I feel like I’m his biggest and most loyal fan

  3. raiderbug - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    The kings beat the lakers during the kings home opener so this would be thier second win

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