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Caught in the Web: Lakers' 98-96 loss to Denver Nuggets feature plenty of storylines

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Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details the Lakers' 98-96 loss Thursday to the Denver Nuggets, and explains Kobe Bryant's decision to sit out the game.

--The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman highlights how Denver managed to take the No. 2 spot in the West, including Carmelo Anthony's fourth-quarter performance.

--NBA.com's Michael Kelly has more on Anthony's block.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford noted other NBA teams have rested their players with the playoffs approaching, including Cleveland's LeBron James and Phoenix's Steve Nash.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan reports Lakers center Andrew Bynum won't return until the playoffs. That means the Lakers will go at least four more games without having the big man inside.

--The Times' Broderick Turner highlights the contributions Lakers reserves Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic provided during the team's third-quarter comeback.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding reports Bryant doesn't expect to play against Minnesota.

--The Daily News' Teaford has more details on Bynum's injury.

Columns

--The Times' T.J. Simers notes the interesting dichotomy the Lakers face, weighing their decision to sit Bryant and Bynum versus wanting to sharpen up their play before the postseason begins.

--The Orange County Register's Ding argues it was the right move for Bryant to rest against Denver.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin explains why it will be hard simply for the Lakers to flip the switch come playoff time.

Blogs

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky looks at all that went wrong in the Lakers' final play.

--Forum Blue and Gold calls the game a "missed opportunity" for the Lakers.

--How bad was that final play? Silver Screen and Roll, in its headline, calls the play the "worst endgame offensive set in history."

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell has a running diary of the game.

--The Lakers Nation's Anna Gonda chalks up the Lakers' loss to poor three-point shooting.

More Lakers links

--Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reports that Bryant plans to play this summer in the World Championships, although he won't have a definitive answer until the offseason.

--ESPN Los Angeles' McMenamin adds that decision would hinge on Bryant's health.

--Sports Illustrated's Paul Forrester breaks down what goes into defending on the perimeter, including details on what makes Lakers forward Ron Artest a good defender.

--NBA Fanhouse's Tom Ziller lists the top 50 free agents this summer, including Lakers guard Jordan Farmar.

Tweet of the Day:"I would absolutely watch an episide of "Intervention" with Sasha and unnecessary shots" -- ESPNLandOLakers (ESPN Los ANgeles' Andy Kamenetzky)

Reader Comment of the Day:"I'd rather have Kobe healthy and the bench ready for the playoffs than having home court advantage and have a fatigue,restless and worn out Kobe." -- appolo c. vermont

--Mark Medina

Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom, far right, takes a shot over Denver forward Nene, right, as Lakers center Pau Gasol, left center, and Nuggets center Johan Petro battle for position under the basket during Thursday's game. Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images.

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
Comments () | Archives (28)

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MM,

Thanks for bringing sanity to Kobe, the rest, and the bench thing!

It's funny to me how I keep reading these comments about how the Lakers' troubles are over rated.

As the argument goes, this has happened before and we won + we're the top 2 seed in the whole league and we'll prove you wrong again and again.

But, I haven't seen anyone with the direct rebuttal (although these points have been brought up countless times)

In year's past, the Lakers would accumulate their losses against weak teams (Bobcats for example) and would accumulate their wins against strong teams (San Antonio for example).

Now that is reversed. The Lakers beat up weak teams and lose to the better ones. In the past, this has produced spectacular regular season teams such as the Phoenix Suns or Dallas Mavericks - perennial 60 win teams that couldn't do squat to win a trophy (although I will admit Dallas was THIS close)...

Further, when you talk about pushing buttons, this is something that the Shaq era teams did. But we don't have the personnel that those teams had. We don't have the legitimate hall of fame 1/2 punch talent of 34 & 8, and we don't have the guard play (think Derek Fisher except 7 years younger than he is now). We also don't have the clutch cast (Fox, Horry) - guys that literally could turn it on when needed.

So you're really talking about apples and oranges here.

Yes, the Lakers could hypothetically win the title this year. Their best chance will be to rematch the Magic - barring this, they have a huge talent, ability, and home court deficit if they meet up with the Cavs. Hopefully this changes in the next month, but it's uncertain - uncertainty that we haven't seen from a Kobe era Laker team.

I'll put it to you this way: if you look back to the Showtime era Lakers, whenever the team seemed unmotivated or lackadaisical, you could go ahead and pencil them in for a playoff elimination. When they were driven, you could *mostly* put them on a title run. This current team is definitely in the lackadaisical mode. Not a guarantee that they don't win it, but their odds have got to be much, much lower than we would have hoped coming into the season.

Their best hope is Kobe getting back to his old self and the coaching staff stepping up big. I also think our defense will go a long.... loooong ways. I think you DO see a better Lakers team in the playoffs (so no, they won't get eliminated 1st round like some people think) but will it be good enough to earn hardware?

Hope so - but as we've seen in the last year, Hope only goes so far.

I totally agree with you Tim-4-Show, this team has some serious issues going into the playoffs.
1. How will Kobe's body and finger hold up?
2. When will Bynum come back?
3. When, or if Drew comes back, how strong will he play?
4. Can anyone from the bench make a meaningful contribution?
5. Will Lamar show up for each and every game?
6. Will Phil be afraid to call timeouts when the team needs them?
7. Can this team play the kind of suffocating defense that they've shown before?
I guess we will jsut wait and see, but It's going to be a very tough climb to make it back to the top.

Sometimes it's good to have the enemy's perspective...

I was watching the game last night with a group of LeBroniacs and their concensus was the following:

1. When the ball was knocked out of bounds with 14.1 seconds left, after watching the reviews, I heard four or five LeBroniacs blurt out, "That's Lakers ball! That's Lakers ball!" So, these guys who hate the Lakers believed we should have been given the ball, even as the refs gave the ball to Denver.

2. Regarding the last play, speaking to LeBroniacs, their concensus can summarized as, "You know what the problem is? Phil Jackson and the Lakers didn't know what to do because Kobe wasn't in. For years their last shot play has been 'Pass the ball to Kobe!' and that's it! Phil Jackson actually had to draw up some X's and O's and the team didn't know what to do."

To be honest with you, I agree with them on both counts.

However, I believe what lost the game were the two late turnovers by Pau Gasol. I don't know what he was thinking and those turnovers changed the momentum of the game.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Here's the thing...

With Kobe and Andrew out, this vastly increases the minutes of our bench. Our bench has been the Achilles' Heel of this team all season. They're going to have a late opportunity to start playing as a team and learning to win without Kobe and/or Andrew bailing them out.

It IS what we need.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

On target Jon K!

Hey Jon, do the LeBroniacs that you hang with feel like the Lakers are going down before the Finals, or are they worried to face them if they do make it there?

"Anyone defending Derek Fisher on here is just as big a loser as he is. This team has NO shot." - some troll.

Well, I feel like I have arrived. Something that belongs on my workbench (think about it) has included me as a loser in his/her blatherings.

I have to wonder if these people even watch the games or do they just look at the score and start hammering on their keyboards. And, since most of them have a thing for Jon K and Derek I would guess that they are from Utah or Ohio.

JR

It is when the circumstances look dire that true character arises. This is true of the coaches, players and the fans. It seems like so many so-called Lakers fans are jumping ship or at least in a panic. History proves that championships are not won in the last dozen games of the regular season. Don't give up hope!
There are plenty of things that are a cause for concern (injuries being the highest concern), but nothing serious enough that can't be corrected. Every team in the West has its concerns (especially not having home court against us) most of which are much more threatening than ours:
Dallas: inconsistent defense and outside shooting, old point guard, never wins
big games
Denver: injuries to K-Mart, poor bench play, inconsistent play from Nene,
coach who is battling cancer
Utah: can't beat the Lakers in LA, not enough muscle inside
Phoenix: Can't win in play-off style , physical games
San Antonio: Old, tired injury-prone players, lack of role players
Portland: Inexperienced team, needs home court to win
Oklahoma City: Inexperienced and untested, mediocre bench

If I was making odds in Vegas, I still would have the Lakers as the favorites in the West. It's just that the margin is slimmer this year.

Jon,

Spot on about the bench being forced to come together in this run before the playoffs. I also like the fact that PJ is sending the message to Farmar and UPS that they haven't earned the start by starting Sasha. Maybe tonight we'll see something new out of the backcourt. One can hope that they get the message anyway.

JR

mclyne,

"do the LeBroniacs that you hang with feel like the Lakers are going down before the Finals, or are they worried to face them if they do make it there?"

I have not spoken to a single LeBroniac who does not think that the Lakers will be in this year's Finals. Some have stated that they believe that Denver will provide us with a significant challenge, but that's it

As I've heard many a LeBroniac say with great impatience, "Can we just start the Finals, already? God!"

In summary, amoung the hordes of LeBroniacs I've had to deal with, all of them expect a Lakers/Cavs Finals; however, some of them believe that Denver will challenge us and some of them believe that Orlando will challenge the Cavs.

So, in closing, LeBroniacs have more faith in our team than Fakeraholics and chicken littles who infest this blog with their histrionics.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

{Lakers Secret Agent Jon K. Reporting From DEEP Behind Enemy Lines In The Sullen Gray Spiritual (and physical) Wasteland That Is Northeast Ohio Where One Of The Most Common Sources Of Opening Conversation Begins With "This place sucks!"}

(By the way, I'm not the person opening the conversation with "This place sucks!" Locals are.)

Anyhow, I had a brief conversation with one of my best LeBroniac sources--personally knows LeBron James, has Cavs season tickets in the third row, etc.--last night.

He stated that the word is that Shaquille O'Neal has requested Mike Brown that if he is physically cleared to play, he wants to play in the last game against Orlando to "Send Howard a message."

So, that will be an interesting game to watch as it will have a lasting psychological impact upon the confidence of both teams.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Good morning Mamba24 & the fabulous Laker morning CRUE!!


GAME DAY BABY - YYYYEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Ok - last night - I'm not happy we lost BUT the bench got some well needed burn, we played like crap for most of the game and STILL only lost by 2 points without our starting center and the best player in the world. I think the Bench "Mob" needed that time to feel some pressure and start working on their groove. I'll take this loss - and even 3 more - to give them some run before the playoffs. I can handle it! The only thing I'm actually pissed off about is PJ's no time out call at the end. Absolutely ridiculous. Pfunk may be right about him snoozing over there sometimes! Sheesh.... anyhoo - moving on....


I'd like to see Kobe AND Pau out tonight. Maybe even Fish. Although it would leave us really short-handed, I think they need the rest badly. Our other guys need to step up. I guess we'll find out what PJ has in store for us. It's like a box of chocolates....

I still believe in this team, and our ability to whoop up on everyone and anyone in a 7 game series. Until I'm proven wrong, I will die believing that.

GO LAKERS!!!

Nothing but another title will suffice.

I meant:

"I have not spoken to a single LeBroniac who does not think that the Lakers will be NOT in this year's Finals."

Too many negatives [nots] in that sentence. Very poorly written.

In clarification, LeBroniacs expect the Lakers to be in the Finals. It's a default assumption.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

rdlee,

"If I was making odds in Vegas, I still would have the Lakers as the favorites in the West. It's just that the margin is slimmer this year."

I expect an exhausting, frustrating and difficult playoffs with the Lakers ultimately taking home their rings.

I think these playoffs are going to be so difficult that it will be EXTREMELY difficult for us to repeat next year, but I'm confident that we'll win this year.

But who knows? This offseason may be one of the biggest, landscape-changing offseasons in NBA history. It's difficult to say what the future holds.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Jon K - I used to really like Snaq when he was a Laker. Until the crap he pulled when he left, and the smack he talked. Now, however, after reading that, I'm quite sure he's lost his freaking mind. What a buffoon. It's sad when a person becomes greater in their own mind but not in reality. SNAQ - it's time for the padded room and the white jacket!!!

mclyne,

"are they worried to face them if they do make it there?"

I didn't answer the second part of your question.

WHEN the Lakers/Cavs Finals happens, LeBroniacs generally don't directly state that "The Cavs are going to win!"

Instead they talk smack on the Lakers and hype up how phenomenal the Cavs are... but they don't necessarily state outright that the Cavs are assured to win. It's interesting.

Many have stated that it will simply be a phenomenal series and I've heard one of the most diehard LeBronaics state to me, "I'll be happy with just a Lakers/Cavs Finals. That'd be enough."

So, yeah. That's what's up here on the street.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

SINCE YOU ASKED, SEE ANSWERS INLINE BELOW:

mclyne YOU WROTE:

1. How will Kobe's body and finger hold up?

Wise One: Time is linear and conquers all, including Kobe's mortal fragile body and finger.

2. When will Bynum come back?

Wise One: 2nd round of playoffs if the lakers get past the first round

3. When, or if Drew comes back, how strong will he play?

Wise One: As usual, at best a mediocre journey man center and not the beast as falsely represented by LakerTom

4. Can anyone from the bench make a meaningful contribution?

Wise One: Lamar, Luke, Shannon, Shasha, Farmar, DJ, Josh including the coaching staff

5. Will Lamar show up for each and every game?

Wise One: Maybe

6. Will Phil be afraid to call timeouts when the team needs them?

Wise One: No

7. Can this team play the kind of suffocating defense that they've shown before?

Wise One: Yes

I guess we will jsut wait and see, but It's going to be a very tough climb to make it back to the top.

Wise One: Do you have any other option other than wait?


Personally, I don't want to see a Lakers/Cavs Finals. Not because I'm scared of the Cavs, but, instead, I'm concerned about the impact of Darth Stern on the Finals.

YOU KNOW he'd somehow get his dirty, grubby little fingers into the series.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

You have to play healthy people and Gasol must give all of his minutes to Mbenga. It's time for all our starters to take a breather especially Gasol and Fish.
These guys should get the bulk of the minutes the second guy should not play as much.

C-Mbenga/Gasol
PF-Lamar/Powel
SF-Luke/Artest
SG-Shannon/Sasha
PG-Farmar/Fisher

Jon K, good stuff today, always fun to read.

To add to your point about the bench having to come together, I believe it also makes Pau have to step his game up and lead at critical times. To a lesser extent, Lamar should feel the same sort of pressure, but I believe he thinks of himself as a complementary player to Kobe Bryant. No Kobe, no one to complement...and hence a less active Lamar.

justanothermambafan,

"I used to really like Shaq when he was a Laker."

I really enjoyed Shaq's humor and his dominance on the court, but even when the Lakers were doing well, I was put off by Shaq's ego and his babiness. It has long seemed that Shaq is committed to his ego in a way that is similar to how a bully is committed to his ego. Kobe has always seemed to me to have a huge ego, but that ego is driven by an obsession to be his best and not let anything get in the way of that quest. I find something admirable in that.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

#4,

"I believe it also makes Pau have to step his game up and lead at critical times."

I saw that instinct during Pau's last turnover; however, it resulted in Pau doing too much. I saw him with two guys on him and open players around him and I thought, "What the hell is he doing? {Pause} It looks like he's trying to be Kobe."

And then he lost the ball at a crucial juncture that may have determined the outcome of the game.

I'm not concerned about individual players feeling the need to "step up". I'm concerned about this team relaxing, trusting one another, DESIRING to utilize each others' strengths, and playing with synergy.

Synergy is what we need.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

I too am concerned it the Cavs make it to the Finals because you know LePraun and his mates will get all of the calls.

I think we need Kobe to play tonight, we really need to wrap up HC. Then rest whoever needs it for the last 3 games.

BLOG CRUE
I have to live here with the Denver fans and several of them have already moved on to a finals date w/ Cleveland.

Colorado loves our World Champion Lakers!

As things look presently, the Lakers do not look like a championship team and here is why.

1) inconsistent defense

2) too many long range outside shot attempts, which creates a lack of getting to the free throw line

3) spacing basically non-existent by deviating away from the triangle offense

4) inability of sharing the ball; example, Kobe attempting too many poor shot selections

5) Coach PJ not calling a time out when deemed necessary

6) Too may turnovers

7) When will Bynum be back?

I have to agree with Tim-4-show, this is not the Shaq-Kobe Lakers that could just turn it on when they wanted when the playoffs started. That team had a powerful bench with a sharp shooting Horry and the beast in Rick Fox. And don't forget that Shaq would knock someone on their a?s. Those teams would not take any crap from anyone. They were a physical nightmare for most opponents. This team is soft and they were lucky to draw the Magic last year in the finals because with exception of Howard, they are just as soft as Lakers, more like the old Phoenix Suns of the east, which is why they failed to win it all. Had they faced the Cavs last year without home court advantage, they probably would have sank, in spite of them beating the Cavs twice in the regular season last year. The regular season means nothing. Just ask those Cavs three years ago when they were swept by the Spurs in the finals. I think to save face, it would better for Lakers not to get out the west just to have to scrape up another finals loss. Just me, at this point I think that would be worse. Start building for next year by Kobe getting the surgery he needs, finding a decent point guard and getting some more defensive help, such as a Charles Oakley type of player that can get the stops the Lakers have been lacking this year. They need a beast. Don't get me wrong, I don't see the Lakers getting knock out of the first round, however I wouldn't be surprised if they were elimated by the second round.

KH


I think the only reason anyone is scared of the Cavs in the finals is because lebron will get all the calls. That would be the most annoying series to watch, trying to beat the Cavs and the refs.


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