A Heartening Loss?
Posted by hiphopmama on February 27, 2009
LA Lakers 79, Denver 90
I can’t remember the last time a loss left me feeling so hopeful. Normally I like to give plenty of credit to the other team for holding up well enough to beat us, but tonight the best I can do is tip my hat to two players: Chauncey Billups and Chris Andersen. Those two guys were almost solely responsible for the Nuggets getting a result here, and without them, even as dismally as the Lakers played, we probably would have won. I realize that I usually completely ignore the other teams’ players in my write-ups, but Chris Andersen was a beast tonight, and I for one would love to see him or anyone like him coming off the bench for us. Talk about a success story for the NBDL.
The reason I feel so good about our team after the L is because we played, quite frankly, horrendous basketball. No, scratch that – just horrendous offense. It was probably the first time all year that our offense let us down, and it was fatigue. We’ve had some tough stretches in the past, and in the middle of bigger injury crises, but this is also the first time I’ve seen us truly tired and struggling because of it. The home-away back-to-back really kicked our ass this time. I mean, fuck, when’s the last time you saw us shoot under 30% from the field? I’m too lazy to look it up, but I’d bet dollars to pesos this was a first. And we STILL could have won, if we could have hit even half the shots we normally hit. We absolutely massacred them on the offensive glass and took 22 more shots as a result. If we had made just a few of those, it’s a different outcome, point blank.
But I don’t even really care, because I am more convinced than ever that nobody in the Western Conference can hang with us. Obviously Denver is a rung or two below San Antonio and even New Orleans, but we were in this one the whole way playing at about 60%. When playoff time comes and there are no back-to-backs and Kobe is in full swing and Bynum is back….well, you get the picture. At least pre-Marbury, I was pretty confident we had the edge against the Eastern Conference behemoths as well, but I’ll have to withhold judgment until I see the new and improved Green Menace in action. Two new signings could have a huge effect for them, because Boston is like a catalyzing agent: additions that would otherwise be rather small tend to come in and have a disproportionate impact because of how quality a side they are. It just might put them over the top and give them enough firepower to beat Cleveland, but I’m still hoping for Kobe-Lebron in the Finals.
I went back and checked my previous Denver posts to make sure I hadn’t done this yet, so here goes. The Nuggets’ announcers suck a fat hairy one. I had gotten disgusted with the Celtics’ guys earlier and turned it off, but these Denver fools are painful. Every home crew is going to be partial; it’s just a given. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard the Lakers’ announcers call out a refereeing crew for any kind of favoritism. I understand that the Lakers are believed to get the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not like we never travel to Boston, Cleveland, etc., to take on other big names on big teams. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any announcer from ANY town bitch about the refs as much as these pricks did. Every fucking call was either “a Laker call” if it went our way or “good work by the ref” if it was for the Nuggets. I think once all game I heard them break this pattern. Then they had the nerve to bitch about OUR guys disputing calls. I was warming up to this cold-ass state after they came to their senses and voted the right way, but if they can put up with fools like these, I have my doubts.
In the end, this was kinda like that Utah game – just badly situated in the midst of a draining run of games. And to be fair, we deserve to have a few more of these with the easy schedule we had in the first half of the season. I think it’s fair to say that we had the breeziest first third of the season of any of the top teams, and we took advantage of it by racking up the wins. Now we have to roll with it as we make up for the initial cakewalk with a series of road trips and tough back-to-backs. If I know Phil, though, he’ll have his guys ready and playing for it when it counts. I was hoping for more after the starters got so much rest last night, but the whole team still looked beat and in no condition to be playing even D-League ball. They’ll bounce back, if for no other reason than because Phoenix is up next and Kobe never capitulates to a Shaq attack.
I couldn’t find highlights but I did come across this postgame piece from KCAL about how they weren’t really up for this one with the late game and travel last night. That about sums it up.