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Nuggets look to run way back into series with Lakers

May 4, 2012, 3:38 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Kenneth Faried AP

The Lakers present nearly every team they face with a matchup dilemma — do you put your biggest players out there and try to match their front line size, or do you go small and try to run them out of the building.

Denver is down 0-2 to the Los Angeles heading into a must-win Game 3 for the Nuggets, and you can bet they are going to try and run the Lakers ragged in the thin air. If they do they are back in the series and set up a monster Game 4. If they fail and go down 0-3 the series is all but over.

Tempo will be key — if the Lakers can turn this into a halfcourt slog their size and Kobe Bryant will win out. They are just more skilled. But if Denver gets out and runs it may be different. In Game 2 Denver got 23.9 percent of its offensive attempts in transition and shot a good-but-not-great 52.6 percent (stats via MySynergySports.com). They need more points in transition — and do better than shoot 0-3 from beyond the arc in transition — but if they can get them they can win this game.

Denver needs to knock down more threes in general — they were 4-19 overall and 3-12 on catch-and-shoot threes. Not good enough. You have to space out the Lakers from distance to break down their halfcourt defense.

One more thing for Denver — they need a big night from JaVale McGee. Less Kosta Koufos, who cannot handle Bynum. Not that you can count on McGee, but he and Mozgov are better options if you decide to match the Lakers size.

The Lakers need to keep running the offense — Kobe Bryant has gotten 30 points in each of the games in this series, but he has done it in the flow of the offense, not with a ton of isolations. Get the ball in the post, hit cutters, run some pick-and-roll with Ramon Sessions and don’t give Denver one simple thing to focus on.

Also, the Lakers have gotten quality play from their role players like Devin Ebanks, Jordan Hill and even Matt Barnes. It is role players who tend to disappear in road playoff games, the Lakers need them to show up.

For Denver, this is must win. Desperate teams are hard to beat, but it all comes down to what kind of game it ends up being — the Nuggets need to run the Lakers into the ground.

  1. rosesacl - May 4, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    incoming intentional loss to make the series more suspenseful. It’s just business.

  2. thraiderskin - May 4, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    I don’t care for your attitude Kurt.

  3. 4thquartermagic - May 4, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Yeah everyone who watches playoff basketball for a couple years knows how this story plays out.

    Denver will win tonight “setting up” a do or die matchup Sunday in which Kobe will turn it on and Lakers will win by double digits.

    NBA been following this script for years.

    p.s. I’m a Denver fan. Been watching first round exits for almost a decade.

  4. marcusfitzhugh - May 4, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Please. The Nuggets can try to run on the Lakers all they want. No one believes the Nuggets have a chance. Not me, not you, not George Karl, no one. History will show the Denver Nuggets showed up and got blown out. Who’s got next?

    • fouldwimmerlaik - May 4, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      The key to a Nuggets win is TO GET THAT DEFENSIVE REBOUND FOR THAT WELL-PLACED OUTLET PASS.

      The problem is, even the Lakers could clean up the offensive boards.

  5. lakerluver - May 4, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    The Nugs aren’t gonna go away easily but they will go away. LAKERS in 5 or 6.

  6. bearsstillsuck - May 4, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    So the nuggets have to score more points than the lakers to win? Ok, got it.

  7. aboogy123456 - May 4, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Hopefully lakers lose so it’s more likely they will have Metta for game 1 against thunder. If lakers win I don’t see Mike Brown tanking any games in order to get him back.

  8. rosesacl - May 5, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    Horrible officiating in this game as predicted by a few people here….

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