Five things to take from Lakers' 93-89 win in Denver
1. An important road win against a conference playoff contender. Let's start with the biggest positive of the night: a quality win on the road against a conference opponent. So it wasn't pretty, but the Lakers still went on the road to beat the Nuggets, 93-89. When they want to know whether you won or lost, they ask how many, not how well you played. The Nuggets (15-8) have proven to be a formidable opponent since the departure of Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks as well as Kenyon Martin (now of the Clippers) and J.R. Smith to China. Just as impressive, the Lakers (14-9) overcame some controversial calls, or non-calls, to earn the victory and move up in the Western Conference standings.
2. Broken record: The Lakers need to execute better on offense. Once again, the Lakers continued to have breakdowns in running their offensive sets, often resulting in poor-quality possessions that ended with rushed shots at the end of the 24-second clock. And with Andrew Bynum running hot, how can he end the game with only 13 shots? The Lakers continually failed to get him the ball when he had great post position. A couple of scenarios in the game included the Lakers' two most veteran players -- guards Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant -- failing to get Bynum the ball when he had established himself on the block. Bryant ended up driving wildly into the lane and hoisting an off-balance shot on more than one occasion.
3. Broken record II: The Lakers need to improve their transition defense. Too many times the Nuggets were able to get down the court for easy layups. And that included big men Nene and Timofey Mozgov as well as the speedy Ty Lawson and other perimeter players. The Nuggets are primarily a young and athletic team, and they're not the only one in the West that will torch teams in transition if defenses aren't paying attention. Think Thunder, Clippers, Blazers, Jazz, Warriors, etc.
4. Broken record III: Kobe Bryant needs to know when to defer to the big men. Bynum made 10 of 13 shots for 22 points while collecting 10 rebounds and Pau Gasol was five of 10 from the field for 13 points while pulling down 17 rebounds. It became obvious as the game unfolded that the Lakers had the advantage on the front line. When your two big men are shooting better than 65% combined, they need to take more than 23 shots in the game.
5. Andrew Goudelock continues to impress. The rookie guard made six of 10 shots, including one of three from three-point range, for 13 points, his fourth double-digit effort in the last five games. When Steve Blake returns to the lineup, the Lakers' backcourt will have more weapons and depth, plus the ability to give more rest to Fisher and Bryant.
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives the baseline for a reverse layup in front of the rim against the Nuggets in the second half Friday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Credit: Jack Dempsey / Associated Press