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Five things to take away from Lakers' 107-97 victory over Denver Nuggets

Lakers13_510 1. Ron Artest remained effective on offense and defense

The Lakers, including Artest himself, have established that Artest should measure his performance more on how he limits opponents from scoring than scoring himself. But Artest demonstrated in the Lakers' 107-97 victory Friday over the Denver Nuggets how much of a difference he can make when he hones in on both concepts. It's impressive enough to hold Carmelo Anthony to 23 points on 10-of-24 shooting, a big improvement than the 32 points Melo dropped on 14-of-25 shooting in Denver's 118-112 win on Nov. 11 against the Lakers. It's quite another to tie with Pau Gasol as the team's leader in scoring with a season-high 19 points on an eight-of-12 shooting clip. But really, the overall concept regarding the Lakers centered on balance. The first quarter only featured Artest (four-of-five shooting) playing with any sort of rhythm, while the rest of the team either forced shots or missed open attempts, finishing with nine of 23.

Some wondered why Luke Walton and Steve Blake remained in the game for the entire second quarter, while Artest and Derek Fisher sat. But the rest helped Artest keep fresh. Once he returned in the second half, it appeared he didn't miss a beat. He performed an effective pump fake that gave him space for a mid-range jump shot. He recovered a nearly mishandled shot and drained an open baseline jumper. And he blocked Melo's seven-foot runner that led to a Kobe Bryant dunk.

Artest rightfully doesn't need to be the Lakers' main offensive option. But when the rest of the team isn't executing properly, it's beneficial for them to know they have reliable help. Then when everything functions better, he can serve as one piece, no matter how big or small, to help keep the balance and efficiency high.

2. Bryant masters the facilitating and scoring role well

Bryant took only four shots in the first half, opting to set up his teammates more than trying to score at will. But with the Lakers down 52-49 at halftime, Bryant took it upon himself initially to help set the tone in the third quarter. His 18 points Friday night on eight-of-15 shooting, seven assists and six rebounds clearly reflect his dedication the last three games to playing facilitator role, and it continues a five-game stretch beforehand where he shot 55% from the field.

The way he put up those numbers tell more of the story, however. After spending halftime working on his shooting, Bryant scored 14 of his 18 points in the third quarter. It was a period that showcased plenty of vintage Kobe moments. He nailed an 18-footer to open the third quarter. He nailed two consecutive baseline jumpers. He threw a jump pass into Lamar Odom for an easy bucket. He threw an alley-oop lob to Gasol. And he dove for a loose ball that forced a turnover.

3. Andrew Bynum overcomes a slow start

Bynum entered the game uncertain how he'd feel after hyperextending his right elbow in the Lakers' 109-100 loss on Wednesday to Dallas. As a result, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, reported KCAL-9's John Ireland, had Bynum wear three layers of a makeshift wrap around his elbow. Bynum contended afterward that his elbow didn't hinder his game, but his zero of four start suggested otherwise.

Lakers6_510 Considering he had four fouls with 6:17 left in the third quarter, it was also conceivable he'd remain passive. Not so. Fortunately for the Lakers, Bynum maintained his aggressiveness and improved on making easy looks in the lane, finishing with 17 points on seven-of-11 shooting. He even showed some feistiness to Nene after he shoved him in the back.

4. The Lakers maintain a strong inside game

It appeared Gasol would remain passive after opting for a mid-range jumper, despite Kenyon Martin giving him some open space. But that proved to be the exception more than the rule, a plus considering how inconsistent Gasol had become during the last month. Though some of that pointed to the Lakers' inconsistency in establishing the inside game (Gasol scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half against Dallas), some of it pointed to Gasol avoiding physical play. But the strong inside presence from Gasol (19 points on eight-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds) and Odom (18 points on nine-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds) showed neither backed down from the physical demands required. Gasol exemplified that most notably when he threw a high bank shot over Martin and finished the third quarter with an offensive putback. Against a team that thrives on physical play, it proved beneficial the Lakers didn't back away.

5. The Lakers improve in the second half on defense

It appeared to be the same old story for the Lakers, allowing their opponent to run in transition with its speedy backcourt exploiting them as they lacked the necessary discipline to hone in on defensive concepts. That's why the coaching staff stressed to stop allowing former UCLA standout Arron Afflalo open looks from the perimeter, Ireland reported. Too often the Lakers worried about shutting off inside penetration by giving him open outside looks, as indicated by Afflalo's 16 points on six of eight shooting. That all changed in the second half. The Lakers held Afflalo to six points, Artest remained glued on Anthony and the defense limited the Nuggets only to four fast-break points by getting back on defense. Other than the Lakers' first-half defensive inconsistency and Shannon Brown's continuous struggles (20 points in the last four games), there's really nothing left to criticize.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest tries to cut off the drive of Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony in the second half Friday night at Denver. Credit: Chris Schneider / Associated Press

 
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the best game of the season? or a reassuring one?

going to a private, informal party. the groom, a huge Lakers hater born in LA. the arguments always revolve around: Kobe selfish and Sacto series.

made the decision to take along a Kobe jersey to feature it in all the PICS, so he will see them forever. sorry, can't resist. too tempting. :-)

Go Jets, go Packers!

When we really want to win, we do.

That's how it is.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

I would seriously love to put a bunch of Lakeraholics and Trolls in a room with baseball bats litering the floor.

I guarantee you the Lakeraholics would win. Handily.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Especially if they started calling you Fabio, right Jon?

Lakers win hahahahahahahaaa.Go KOBE...

Also do you think Melo is making that face because rons pits smelled so terrible? LOL.

Didn't get a chance to catch any of the game and NBA.com stinks for updates. Overall seems like a good win from everything that I've heard. I am super glad we won.. here is to hopign for another long win streak.

The Lakers showed both why and how no team can beat them in a 7-game playoff series. While they can be caught napping during the regular season and embarrassed, the more often they play a team, the more focused and playoff-intense they get...and that includes Phil. Size + focus + intensity + playoff DNA = #17

Laker Amigos...LET'S RIDE!!!

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!


Only bad sign is that most of the Nuggets misses were simply that - misses. Still bad closeouts on the perimeter. If we get this inside presence more and more from the Laker bigs, we may start inviting inside drives instead of leaving wide open perimter shots. Ok, now I start to believe (hope, really) some Pollyanna stuff.............. LOL


Jon K. summed it all up, PERFECTLY.

He said, "When we really want to win, we do. That's how it is."
________________________________________

Lakerholics,

Let's just enjoy the ride and when April-May-June comes, then it's ON!

As I've said, we've been on this roller-'COAST'er ride year-in, year-out. Same old, same old.

So, excited to crush those SEPTICS (now new and improved! old SNAQ ADDED!). oh yeahhh!


LAKERS ALL DAY!!!

Nice balance in the scoring with the big 5-Kobe, Drew, Pau, Ron and Lamar all shooting over 50% and all of them coming within a whisker of getting 20 points each.

But the key to the win was probably Luke shooting lights out hitting 66% of his shots.

Kobe, only 1 turnover, nice!

I love it when the Lakers beat the Nuggets, just don't like that team.
Especially enjoyable to beat them in Denver, and to beat the team with the second best home record in the WC at their place.

Nice to go into this little 3 day mini vacation in an upbeat way with a W.

Just 2 games next week, Utah and the Kings. Good opportunity to rest up and tune up for the big game against the Celts next Sunday.

JonK- Dude...Really in a room with bats!!!! You'll be the first ONE to get KO, everyone would want to BUST you. even BANDWAGONERS, chill out my man.

I guess they didn't want the win at Dallas, San Antonio or at home Christmas Day. Why is it that they only wants to PLAY when they WIN???

Btw, your BIGS played nice , they'll be a LOAD for any team....EXCEPT the GREENIES. they have BIG BODIES that LOVES to HIT. I like the way DREW faced off with NENE, saying "I'M NOT GETTING PUNKED" not TONIGHT.

"I would seriously love to put a bunch of Lakeraholics and Trolls in a room with baseball bats litering the floor."

Is he making threats to cause bodily harm? Just took a screen shot. Law enforcement might be interested in taking a look at that comment.

I would seriously love to put a bunch of Lakeraholics and Trolls in a room with baseball bats litering the floor.

I guarantee you the Lakeraholics would win. Handily.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Posted by: Jon K

MM...this guy neds some serious anger mgmt !!! Why would you leave this nonsense up ?

Lakers did some good stuff tonight. Kobe shot well. But Denver was a total mess tonight and I'm don't attribute it to the Laker defense. Denver jacked up way too many bad shots and just seemed to give up tonight. Denver didn't seem to have an aggressive attitude and with the Lakers height advantage they really need to out work the FAKERS !!!

Fish came up big once again !!! His shooting this year is as Jon K would say is " AWESOME" !!!!

When we really want to win, we do.

That's how it is.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Posted by: Jon K


What dream or fantasy world are you living in ???? Why did they choose to win in Denver but not against the Heat ? Lakerholics live in a fantasy world that the Lakers only lose when they are not motivated and win when they choose. First of all they have the most pathetic player in the league at pg. Maybe if they did have a legitimate NBA player at that position your dreams would come true.

Come on man, one on one nobody can stop Fish. His blazing speed, post up moves and slam dunks as well as shutdown defense are simply things of beauty. Other guards shake in fear when they know fish will be guarding them. Treasure these moments, there will never be another of his stripe again.

Haters sucks.Lakers rolls!!!hahahahahaha

After a good win we can even take all the split personalities that pop up on the blog.

I thought it was a very entertaining game, though my choice of liquid refreshment may have also had some impact on the level of entertainment I was feeling. I was a bit disappointed that Afflalo (sp) seemed to be by himself out on the perimeter a good portion of the night even if Denver didn't make the Lakers pay for it. Other than that, I don't recall too many shots that were completely uncontested: unlike Dallas.

Is it me, or is Shanon taking his new commercial too seriously, causing him to try to do too much every time he gets the ball in his hands?

JR

Art -FL Lakers Fan,

you wrote: But the key to the win was probably Luke shooting lights out hitting 66% of his shots.

my response: I was thinking the same thing. Did you see Luke play????

it was almost like he was ... a professional basketball player. :)

Seriously, loved Luke's game.

Same old song and dance:

1) naysaying trolls complaining about Fisher (too slow), Gasol (too soft), Kobe (too selfish), Artest (too crazy), Odom (too distracted), Brown (too inconsistent), Bynum (too injury prone)

2) weak fans of other teams trolling up the board with "promises" that they'll destroy the Lakers, etc.

3) scared fans worrying that a single loss represents the apocalypse

Meanwhile, the Lakers have won two NBA championships in a row, and are on target for a three-peat. Ye of little faith, indeed. Are you folks like this with your families? When little Billy or Sally misses a shot do you tell them the whole season is going down the drain? When they score low on a test do you pull your hair, rent your garments, start weeping and proclaim that their future is over? Chiiiiiiiiiill out, gang.

For the rest of us fans, this season is yet another great ride....

Especially if they started calling you Fabio, right Jon?

Posted by: Diandra | January 22, 2011 at 01:21 AM

Dude looks like Clay Mathews of the Packers.

That was a credible, well focused effort Friday night against the Nuggets. More!

LakerTom,

How about Bynum? Nice game for him.

Posted by: Jolly Rancher
After a good win we can even take all the split personalities that pop up on the blog.
))))))))))))))))))

You can almost say that the Lakers are a reflection/microcosm of the blog. Talk about your split personalities.

This game had all the indicators for a Laker loss and the Lakers fooled us once again by a strong team effort.
Conversely, the Nugs who have to be in a funk with all the Melo distractions, didn't seem as intense as prior games played in Denver.
So which was the overriding reason?

8 DAYS TILL THE FIRST PLAYOFF GAME OF THE PRACTICE SEASON

Who is this Luke you speak of?

If Luke had really finished his Jedi training who knows what could have been

Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.
-- Yoda

Whatever you say haters,Lakers will prevail again in june.hahahahahaha

random
S Perkins
G.Money

Of course if any of us had even remotely inferred a baseball bat bash party we would have been censored. To MM's credit he has deleted a post or 2 of "Long Locks" lol

The 27 just gets a lot more latitude than the "Free Thinkers"

It's funny how wins remind us that these are the best of times & the worst of times.


THE BEST: The external out of state trolls crawl back into hibernation.
THE WORST: The in-house trolls get revived and reinvigorated.


As I so eloquently stated last week, who do you fight when there is no one left to fight?

Jon K: I love you brother. But violence is not the way. We will always have haters. There will always be trolls. It's the price of being the most successful NBA franchise ever. My prayer is that you return to your summer 2008 stance:


STARVE THE TROLLS. IN-HOUSE ONES INCLUDED!

We can beat a team in disarray about to have their heart torn out. We can beat any team that does not match up with our size. In a week we will see a team that does not meet either of these descriptions. It will be in our house. Let's see if we do not get another Christmas Present.

Luke is a very good player and always has been. That is why PJ plays him. He has had a rough career with a lot of injuries. I know he felt bad about the last game and came out and played great. It is hard to read everyone bashing him all of the time. It is a good thing PJ gets the final say... ;-)

Shannon has been jacking up a lot of quick shots lately with mixed results. He needs to get his shots more in the flow of the offense.

Ron was awesome. When everyone was flailing in the beginning of the game, he was the rock. It reminded me of Game 7. He frustrated Melo all night. Melo padded his numbers in garbage time. Ron was all over him. Fantastic!

Kobe is so impressive lately. He has given up on worrying about p.p.g. and is focusing on the win column. Just when you think you are safe, he strikes - like a lightning fast, deadly snake... ;-)

Drew was shaky at first - worrying about his arm. He got fired up at the end and started to show me something. It is all up to him. He has all the gifts and the support of the best basketball organization in the world. Keep it up! Nene who?

That was a great win in a difficult building. The Nuggets played well in the first half, but seemed to wither in the third quarter when Kobe went off on them. The writing was on the wall - hard to get a fast break when Kobe is sinking every shot from every angle on the court! Denver takes pride in being tough, but the Lakers were tougher.

When the Lakers put together a game like that, it is easy to imagine them creaming everyone in the playoffs. We need to keep it going and get some momentum going into Boston. I live in VT and am surrounded by Celtic fans. We have to win that one! The Lakers can just go on to the next game, but I will be hearing it for a long time because...

I am a Lakerholic.

Exactly, more bans less IP addresses. Also could someone list the 27 again?

Pau, d'attraper et spin au panier plus souvent.

Jon K.,

For the love of all things Lakers, combine most of your posts to one, and drop the ridiculously lame signature, we all know you're a fan just like us, stop making the fans wade through your nonsense!

I live in VT and am surrounded by Celtic fans. We have to win that one! The Lakers can just go on to the next game, but I will be hearing it for a long time because...

I am a Lakerholic.
Posted by: Lakerholic | January 22, 2011 at 08:14 AM

Dude ...you can consult with the FAKE pastor on the blog, and PRAY until the sky's open up. Boston will play TOUGH, and they'll make a STATEMENT game upon the Lakers arrival. Believe it, they will want payback for their CHOKING game 7.

This will be one of those PRACTICE games the Lakerholic talk about, so save your money.

"Dude ...you can consult with the FAKE pastor on the blog, and PRAY until the sky's open up. Boston will play TOUGH, and they'll make a STATEMENT game upon the Lakers arrival."


THINGS THAT TROLLS SAID LAST JUNE?
DING!
YOU JUST WON THE $25,000 PYRAMID!


Dick Clark: Where's my check?

Good win. I thought everybody played well with the exception of Shannon and his shooting woes. When Artest has good offensive games that Lakers are very tough to beat. Nice board domination, limited turnovers and improved defense.


I did like the fact the refs let them play and didn't call a lot of ticky tack fouls except for a few Nuggets and 1's. I know some Laker fans are down on Leon Wood...and he was really bad the last Laker game he referreed...but I like him because he usually doesn't have a quick whistle.

MM: I didn't get handle-jacked. Changed my handle on purpose to acknowledge my myriad of not so secret admirers.

Seriously, loved Luke's game.

Posted by: hobbitmage | January 22, 2011 at 07:21 AM
=====

Other than the Mavs game (and maybe one other that I already forget), he's played very well since Barnes went down. The Lakers actually run the offense when he's on the floor. That play where he looked like he was going to shoot a corner three and then passed it to LO uner the basket with the shot clock running down was beautiful. So was Andrew Bynum's unrecorded hockey assist on that play.

I want to see THE LIST OF 27. Can't wait to see the accolades and highlights that landed me on such a prestigious list!

If all the pieces are in playoff time, the LAKERS will dominate. San Antonio looks so invincible right now but come championship time you will see how the big three big men will crushed the boards and pollute the perimeters. Those Lakers lambs will become vicious wolves when ring time comes. And Black Mamba's testosterone will be so high that he will grab every ball he sees because to him that is another ring that will elevate him to the heights of hoops immortal glory. And as he walked into the sunset of his life the guru of rings will once more will devise something that will ensure he will be triumphant three peating
ensuring that he too will be enshrine in glory forever in the heavenly hoops. So Laker Nation do not be depressed when we lose some during this season of positioning because when reality of the rings comes we are unbeatable. GO LAKERS. GOD SPEED LAKERS

@Lakerholic – Excellent game recap. I also enjoyed your analogy yesterday of defensive effort and a band/group harmony. Keep bringing it.

I want to see THE LIST OF 27. Can't wait to see the accolades and highlights that landed me on such a prestigious list!

Posted by: utzworld THE BANNER HOLDING FAKE PASTOR & Proud Member of THE LAKERS BLOG 27 | January 22, 2011 at 08:46 AM

Sorry Dude...you didn't make that list, you made the BOOT LICKERS list, CONGRATS.

Tread carefully G.Money.

BOOTLICKER? SWEET! Let me add that to my handle! Thanks, G. Money! Got anymore. I'm trying to break the record for Longest Laker Blog Handle Ever! In the words of KC & the Sunshine Band, KEEP IT COMIN, LOVE!

Dude....I mean SORRY GOD.

Here's a great post about last night's game from a Knicks fan I know who also appreciates the Lakers and who posts in another forum:

"888

Great point! It's true, teams show up for the Lakers; in a way that's uncharacteristic of their previous performances.

But I think this game was significant for the Lakers because unlike their past 20 games or so, they actually played some defense and pounded the boards.

The Nuggets average 24.3 charity stripe points per game... Lakers held them to 16 FT points. This likely means that the Lakers effectively kept them out of the paint = strong defense.

The Nuggets average 41.2 reb per game... Lakers held them to 27 reb.

Compare this to their last outing. The Lakers shot 54%. It's not their offense. The time to start thinking about playing solid team defense is in the "practice season." You can't find defense in a 7 game series. It's got to be in a team's DNA coming down the stretch.

So, IMO, this is definitely a meaningful change for the Lakers. The question is whether or not they can adopt this defensive mindset for the long haul."
===

BTW, the Lakers are averaging more points per game than last season and giving up fewer. Who knew!

LRob - Thanks! It is great to have a chance to talk Lakers!

G.Money - Your point would be made better on a Celtic blog.

Keep the faith!

Go Lakers!

Jon K.,

You're right about the bats, lakerholics and trolls.

I don't get the vitriol that you're getting on the blog, but I love how you simply ignore it and state your point.

We indeed play for rings!

Great game!

As some have noted, when the offense runs through Kobe, the team plays so much better.

Go Kobe!
Go Lakers!


Good win, not a season changing win against a team in turmoil that knows they can't beat the Lakers.

Do that against Boston, hold home court against SA and we're good to go.

Cover much grounds, got game by the pound
Getting paid as a forty
Each and every day, true player way

- No Diggity, BLACKSTREET

Ron Artest scores 19 points on 12 shots. Holds Carmelo Anthony to 23 points on 24 shots.

Who says he's not worth 6.3 Million dollars? When that man puts his head down and goes in that foxhole, he worth every penny, in the pinch.

Just for the record, if Ron Artest went on the open market, he's worth twice that much. Instead, he stays with L.A., where there's a pecking order, Ron gets in line like a soldier. the true NBA fan, knows how much this guy's sacrificed for winning, and people still disrespect him. Tru Warrior for life.

Love that picture of Big Bynum and the Spaniard contesting Nene at the rim! That's what basketball is all about!!

I thought that last night was a good blueprint for the way the Lakers should play all the time. Sharing the ball. Spreading the scoring. Pounding the ball inside. Dominating the boards. Not backing down when the Thuggets started their act. Kobe efficient and facilitating. Low turnovers. Good defense. A lot to like.

After Bynum's 0-4 start, of which two shots were point blank that he simply missed, he went 7-7 from the field. He frustrated Nene to the point that Nene tried to provoke him into a fight. Loved how Andrew stood up for himself.

A very solid win. And to those who say Denver may be distracted by the Melo-drama and didn't put forth its best effort, I say that no team in the league has any sympathy for the Lakers. I could care less about Denver's situation. If the lakers took advantage of it, so much the better.

One last thing...that 3rd quarter outburst by the Black Mamba was vintage! The play where he spun out of a double team by Billups and JR Smith and then hit a fadeaway from the left baseline was just jaw-dropping!! That had me jumping off my couch. That was a prime example of the athletic excellence that has made me a fan of the NBA for so long. Kobe's still got it!!

LRob, thanks foer bringing up LEON WOOD. i don't understand why he is such a Laker hater. he was bad in the dallas game a few days ago and was bad againt L.A. last night. i can't recall a call going for the Lakers in the last two games he has reffed! he just plain SUCKS! meanwhile, for the Lakeshow, probably our most important win of the year! i love the way we're "spreading the wealth" when it comes to scoring. that makes it doubly tough for ANY defense to lock down on us. big week a ahead of us. payback due tuesday against the JAZZ, we owe them for a defeat in utah. sacto, always dangerous, no matter where we play them. THEN OF COURSE, BOSTON ON SUNDAY. DON'T LET THE CHILDREN SEE THIS GAME, IT'S GOING TO BE A BLOODBATH OUT THERE! CAN'T WAIT! GO LAKERS, LET'S BUILD OFF OF THIS NUGGET WIN!

Fan of the Mamba,

Thanks, man.

I think we both know these trolls are awful human beings with nothing positive to contribute to humanity. They know it too, that's why they deflect attention to themselves by constantly complaining and focusing on the deficits of others.

It's an instinctual response people of low character do in the hope that others will not focus upon their own short-comings.

Anyhow, it was nice to see our Lakers playing like Lakers last night, particularly on defense. I think for Ron to play at his best, he needs to feel challenged. He plays better defense on Carmelo Anthony than he does on Sasha Pavolic.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Steve,

This one is for you...

I, choose to deny
The commands of control freaks
Use your scroll wheel, dude

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

Lakers Fan living in Dallas. Lakers look good against Denver. Good Balance. I wish Phil would work Joe Smith into the line up. I think he could be an asset. Good middle range jumper. The test will come when we play Boston and the Spurs again.

True Laker Fan


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