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Turnovers, offensive rebounds doom Lakers, spark Nuggets in win

Jan 7, 2013, 2:17 AM EDT

Denver Nuggets' Gallinari celebrates a three-pointer during their NBA basketball game against Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles Reuters

There was a moment Sunday night’s game that seemed to sum up the Lakers’ season to this point.

With just over seven minutes left, Lakers ran a set that got sloppy and directionless, but with clock running down they got the ball in the post to Pau Gasol; then Kobe Bryant knifed through the lane and got a pass from Gasol. Kobe made a difficult shot over JaVale McGee, a shot that seemed flat but found its way through the net.

Denver quickly inbounded the ball, made a long pass to nearly half court to Ty Lawson and he raced down the floor, ahead of most every Laker. Steve Nash was back and tried, but Lawson went around him and went off the glass for a layup. Two quick points.

It was the story of the night. It has been the story of the season — the Lakers have to work hard for their basket, then the other team gets an easy one because they are not ready on defense.

In some ways they Lakers played their best offensive game in a while and outshot Denver on the night. But the Lakers had 18 turnovers (17.7 percent of their possessions) and allowed Denver 17 offensive rebounds (32.7 percent of their missed shots) and those 35 free possessions for Denver was enough to doom Los Angeles. Again.

Denver won 112-105 in exactly the kind of game the Lakers need to win — at home against a team on the second night of a back-to-back, an opponent that is one of the teams they are fighting for a playoffs spot in the bottom half of the West.

And while a lot of people — myself included — keep expecting the Lakers to figure it out enough to make the playoffs, it’s games like this that give me pause. And games like this that make it a lot harder for them.

Credit Denver — they know who they are. They are a team that wants to run and they did (the game had 102 possessions). They are a team that trusts their point guard to run the show, and Lawson did with 21 points and 10 assists as he outplayed Steve Nash. They have long players in the paint on defense to make it hard on you and challenge shots then grab rebounds. They hustle.

Those are all things the Lakers want to do, but Denver executes them better right now. The Nuggets have balance — six players in double figures scoring — and they can overcome a bad shooting night from a key scorer (Danilo Gallinari had 20 points but on 6-of-20 shooting).

The Lakers had Kobe with 29 points (but on 26 shots) and seven assists, Howard had 14 points and a career high in rebounds with 26. Nash had 10 points and 13 assists. The Lakers has six players in double figures as well.

But the Lakers defense was worse than Denvers (which wasn’t all that good). Defense continues to be what does the Lakers in — a defense that is hurt by those turnovers that can lead to fast break points the other way. A defense hurting itself by giving up offensive rebounds so the opponents get another look. The Lakers gave up 107.6 points per 100 possessions in this game, which is pretty much what they gave up in December and that was 26th in the league for the month.

With the boards and some defensive plays, this looked like a better, healthier Dwight Howard for the Lakers, but he was pitching into the night of mental errors. Inside two minutes in the game, down four, Howard severely altered a Lawson shot then grabbed the rebound — then threw it away, tipped by Gallinari. Then inside the final minute Howard blocked an Andre Miller shot — right to Gallinari who drained the dagger three.

Part of the problem is Gasol — he is thinking now, not just playing basketball. He’s unsure where to go in the offense, and it’s in his head. And in his shot, so he gets the ball and is thinking pass, not about being aggressive.

For Denver, they are now 20-16 with 12 of their next 14 games at home. This is a big road win for them, if they can have a hot home stand they can start to solidify a playoff spot in the West.

The Lakers are now 15-18 on the season, currently the 11 seed and three games back of the 8 seed Trail Blazers. It’s easy to say they will make that up, it’s not much, but it’s not going to be tough with Denver playing well, Houston playing better and good teams like Portland and Utah to climb over. The Lakers have the Spurs, Rockets and Thunder on the schedule for this week. They need wins. Now. Before the hole they are in becomes too deep to climb out of.

  1. magicbucs - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Title should read ; lakers sucking again doom them against the nuggets. Oh and Dwight tied a career high. He had 26 rebs in a magic uniform already.
    My orlando magic might not be a good team but they don’t have ANY Allstars on their team… Not yet.
    Lakers have what 3-4 so called possible Allstars voted in by fans which a lot of them are adolescents.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      Dude, get over it Howard left.

      geez, not everyone wants to eat dinner ay 4:15

  2. 32magicman - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:34 AM

    Yep. Karma for dwight. If he had committed his future to orlando and not tried to screw them they probably could have attracted some good free agents. He would be playing in the playoffs there. Cant see it happening in the loaded west. How many top flight teams have the lakers beaten so far?

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      they had so many chances to build him a contender and failed.

  3. somekat - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    Once again, the opposing PG goes nuts on the Lakers. Nash just is too much of a liability. When the PG can constantly get where he wants, when he wants, they aren’t going to be stopped.

    Nash can only be effective at this point if the otehr 4 guys on the floor are willing to sacrifice to cover for his terrible defense. Add in to that guys like Bryant and Artest that have a better reputation as a defender than how good they actually are, Howard who isn’t 100%, Gasol who can be abused away from the rim, and I don’t see how any coach can fix their defense. Let alone “No”D’Antoni

  4. patfic15 - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    That’s because ….once again, Denver WON this deal. Tons of thumbs down for saying it in the off season but hey look who’s winning…..who is actually on the court (Iguodola).

  5. uscthom78 - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    Denver Karma for Kobe and the lakers. Kobe’s backdoor maneuvers won’t work this time.

    • tigershark49 - Jan 7, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      Kobe has won rings and awards since that incident. You dont really believe in karma, do you?

      • scalfor3 - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        I don’t believe in karma, but I also don’t believe that success on the court justifies or exonerates bad behavior off it.

  6. skids003 - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:51 AM

    OH, BS, Kurt. When does this become the Great One’s fault. It’s always someone else.

  7. metalhead65 - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    while it is fun watching them lose the last thing I want is for them not to make the playoffs and be in the lottery. that would assure it of being even more rigged and for them to get the #1 pick and Cody Zeller. it would kill me to have to root against a good kid like him. no I want them to suck just not bad enough not to make the playoffs. let them suffer in mediocrity for years but not bad enough to be in the lottery.

  8. loungefly74 - Jan 7, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    …is trying his hardest to remain in a Buddhist monk-like stance on patience with Lakers…

  9. Gordon - Jan 7, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    It’s pretty amazing that a team with a guy who is supposedly one of the greatest to ever play, plus the supposed best big man in the league, a great post player, and a future HOF PG, and we’re talking about whether they’ll make the playoffs.

    Sad state of affairs in LA.

  10. themagicfanguy - Jan 7, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    @patfic Actually, Orlando won the trade. Vucevic has shown more value, not to mention Harkless and the future picks. Although, Denver did better than Philly and LA.

  11. omniusprime - Jan 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Come on Kurt, it’s time to admit that the reason why Pau is thinking on the court instead of playing is Dumbtoni has forced him to try to be something he’s not, a three point shooter. The whole reason why the Lakers are losing is that Dumbtoni is the most incompetent coach for defense. The reason the Lakers are being out hustled is Dumbtoni can’t inspire them to play their best.

    When will the little idiot buss boy pull the plug on his experiment gone haywire? Past time for Dumbtoni to be fired so legendary coach Phil Jackson can return to bring the Lakers to the Promised Land of another title. Oh and trade away Ancient Nash because he can’t play defense to save his life or career, get a great young point guard like Kyrie Irving, bet he wants out of Cleveland.

    I’ll go Chuckles Barkley one better, I predict that with Dumbtoni and Nash the Lakers won’t even make the playoffs.

    Dump Dumbtoni!!! We Want Phil!!! Trade Ancient Nash!!! Go Kobe!!! Go Lakers!!!

    • scalfor3 - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      First, who are you going to trade Nash for? Just getting rid of him doesn’t fix your defensive problems.

      Second, do you think the Lakers have anything on their roster the Cavs would even consider giving up for Kyrie? The only guy that isn’t both old and on a bloated contract is Dwight and he has a bad back. Small markets don’t exist merely as a farm system for the Lakers, you jackass.

    • cmehustle - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:37 PM

      Dude your just playing right??? No way any of that happens, at least not this season. But enjoy your dream.

  12. bucrightoff - Jan 7, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    D’Antoni is going to get fired by All-Star break, Phil comes back for $100 million to finish the season because why would he demand any less to fix this historic debacle.

  13. hoodheisman - Jan 7, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    So if/when the Lakers lose to Houston, San Antonio, and OKC this week to extend their losing streak to 6, I fully expect D’Antoni to be gone…

    We Want Phil!!!
    We Want Phil!!!
    We Want Phil!!!

  14. paulhargis53 - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Hmm, no lakerluver/bozosforall posting.
    Oh, that’s right, he only surfaces when the team is close to .500 and they are turning the corner.

    It’s getting to the point of no return here for the lakers. If they are 3 games under .500 or worse at the AS break, you can kiss the playoffs good bye.
    Well, at least if they are in the lottery, they will have a shot at…..oh that’s right…no 1st round pick for how many years?!

    • broncobeta - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      Dude seriously. Stop.

    • broncobeta - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Dude, seriously. Stop.

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