After an exciting end to the regular season the Denver Nuggets did a disappearing act during Game 1 of their first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.
As a team, Denver shot .356 from the field and scored only 88 points. It also didn’t help that Andrew Bynum blocked nearly every shot attempted near the basket as he recorded the first playoff triple-double for the Lakers since Magic Johnson in the 1991 NBA finals and tied the NBA playoff record with 10 blocked shots.
But it wasn’t just Bynum that gave Denver troubles, the Nuggets couldn’t make a shot to save their lives.
- Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo both shot 3 of 11
- Al Harrington made only 4 of 14 shots
- Andre Miller was 5 of 13
- JaVale McGee missed all six of his shots
HIGHLIGHT: No player struggled more against the Lakers in the regular season than Danilo Gallinari. But that wasn’t the case on Sunday as Gallinari was aggressive and wasn’t settling for jump shots.
Gallinari’s first three baskets were layups and he had nine of the team’s 14 points after the first quarter. Gallinari was averaging only 10 points against the Lakers during the regular season, but scored 19 on Sunday.
Kenneth Faried and Corey Brewer also showed up ready to play. Faried had 10 points and eight rebounds and played with energy, despite the deficit. Brewer had a 4-point play in the second half to cut the Lakers lead to 31-24.
WHERE’S TY AND AFFLALO?: After a nice ending to the regular season, Lawson just didn’t show up on Sunday. He turned the ball over on the opening possession and it went south from there. He missed his first six baskets and didn’t score his first point until the third quarter.
He had a minus-21 for the game and only totaled two assists. No doubt, the Lakers saw the scouting report on Lawson and his importance to the Nuggets.
It wasn’t just Lawson that was a no-show, Afflalo didn’t play well either. After averaging more than 18 points for April and shooting over 50 percent from the field, Afflalo couldn’t find a rhythm. He missed an open 3-pointer to start the game, then a layup and then a jumper. All baskets that he usually makes.
SMALL BALL VS. SIZE: For a while there the Nuggets decided to beat the Lakers with height, but when that wasn’t working they instead went small with 6-foot-8 Kenneth Faried at center, next to 6-foot-9 Al Harrington. It’s hard to win on nights when you are outsized, but it wasn’t like the Nuggets’ 7-footers were having much success.
Kosta Koufos (minus-8), McGee (minus-10) and Timofey Mozgov (minus-3) combined to go only 2 of 12 from the field for eight points, 15 rebounds, three turnovers and six fouls.
Size is nice, but it is more important to have skilled big man in the game.
CAN’T FAULT THE OFFICIALS: Any time your team loses your first reaction is to fault the officials, but that can’t be the case on Sunday.
Outside of a questionable technical foul call on Kenneth Faried, the calls went the Nuggets way. They shot more free throws (27 to 15) and the Lakers were called for more fouls (22-18).
A NEAR TRIPLE-DOUBLE: Bynum wasn’t the only one that was flirting with a triple-double. Miller came off the bench to score 12 points, grab 8 rebounds and have 7 assists. Of course it doesn’t mean anything if you lose by 15.
WHAT ADJUSTMENTS NEED TO MADE?: There really isn’t many adjustments the Nuggets need to make, they just need to get better.
The biggest thing is they need a faster start to the game, they were outscored 27-14 after the first quarter an were pressing for most of the game. It was apparent from the start that they were intimidated by the Lakers experience, size and the atmosphere in the Staples Center.
Denver did have 19 fast-break points, but it needs to make it a point to run more. Obviously Lawson needs to be more aggressive, but Afflalo also needs to hit his shots and the Nuggets need to get at least something out of McGee.
The most opportune time to make a run is the second quarter when the Lakers go to their bench and rest Bryant and Bynum.
The bottom line is Denver isn’t out of the series, but the Nuggets need to be near perfect to win on Tuesday.
Topics: Al Harrington, Andre Miller, Andrew Bynum, Arron Afflalo, Corey Brewer, Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets, George Karl, JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Kobe Bryant, Kosta Koufos, Los Angeles Lakers, Pau Gasol, Timofey Mozgov, Ty Lawson