All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Posts Tagged ‘chris andersen’

Off to a Better Start

Posted by hiphopmama on May 20, 2009

Play of the game

 

Play of the game

 

Denver 103, LA Lakers 105
     Lakers lead series 1-0

Sorry for the delay. This write-up was preempted by my attendance of the No Doubt concert, which was great, better even than this gripping game. I was lucky enough to get updates throughout (thanks, Diana), so my friends and I were biting our nails as it went down to the wire, and we let out a big “Lakers!” cheer when the final score came through. Poor Paramore probably thought it was for them. Oh well.

The best word I can think of to describe this game is EVEN. These are two quite evenly-matched teams, at least when the Lakers are somewhat off their game as they have been, and it was reflected in the tight scoreline in the final three quarters. It reminded me of a heavyweight boxing match, with each team punching, then counter-punching, then responding with a slightly reworked strategy. The Lakers came out flat, allowing the Nuggets to build as much as a 13-point lead in the first quarter, but after their second quarter spurt it was close the rest of the way. Around the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Denver had a seven point lead, but other than that it was always around a one to four point margin. 

And then we closed on them. Our front line had been battered and bruised by the shorter and, frankly, lesser pairing of Nene and Kenyon Martin, but Pau kept on battling and eventually got something going by crashing the glass, specifically on the offensive end. More importantly, though, Kobe took over. He scored 18 points in the fourth, with nine straight free throws, including four to ice the game. He got a big assist from Ariza, who made two key plays in our come-from-behind effort. The first was a three-pointer when we were down 94-89 with 4:16 remaining, at a key moment when you felt we could either make or break our comeback. A Kobe jumper and a Fisher three put us in front 97-96 with 2:30 on the clock. Ariza’s other game-saving play was his steal of Denver’s inbounds pass after two Kobe free throws put us up 101-99 with 30 seconds remaining. Kobe was guarding Melo, but Ariza came out of nowhere and closed on the ball like a cornerback reading a quarterback’s eyes, just in time to snatch the ball off Anthony’s back shoulder and race down court. Anthony Carter’s pass, presumably obstructed by Lamar Odom’s lank, had just enough loft on it to give Ariza that extra split second, and that was all he needed. Two more Kobe free throws later, and it was a done deal. 

Actually, Chauncey Billups did his best in the midst of all that to steal the game back, hitting two ridiculous, highly contested three-pointers, but it wasn’t quite enough for the Nuggets, who had to settle for second-best on a night when they were the better team for most of the game. 

I can’t yet decide on an interpretation of this one. There are two non-mutually exclusive ways to go. The first is this: Championship clubs close games. It doesn’t matter how you play the first 47 minutes, only who is ahead when 48 are completed. In the end, the “better” team doesn’t always win, just the team that performs better when it matters most. The Lakers have the game’s best closer and arguably its best coach, along with last year’s playoff experience, so they have the natural advantage when it comes to late-game situations. This win is just a sign that we have the right ingredients to get the job done even when we’re not playing our best. The other interpretation is slightly less favorable: The Lakers are scraping by and will soon meet up with a team or a situation that with catch them out. Sure, they escaped by the skin of their teeth in this one, but one of these days they won’t be so lucky. They continue to underperform, even in this most crucial of games, and if they can’t get their act together they will soon be shown the exit so they can retreat to their Hollywood homes and watch the Finals from comfier confines.

I sit somewhere in between these two extremes. Yes, they were at a notch below their best, but, aside from the opening six minutes or so, they were not exhibiting the lack of effort that characterized those two catastrophic losses in Houston. They weren’t phoning it in, they were just being matched, move for move, by a very good team that has found its groove. They slugged it out, with some brave performances thrown in there (Kobe’s defending, Ariza’s hanging in there). Carmelo had an exceptional game, one which I doubt he can repeat too many times in this series, and our bigs were outworked by a pluckier twosome, all of which helped account for the close nature of the game. The Lakers have the ability to play much better than this, while the Nuggets have much more limited room for improvement. J.R. Smith was far from his best, and Chris Andersen will play a much bigger role in front of the home fans, but I doubt they can defend much better than they did in game one and of the starters, only Billups has the potential to show much more than he did last time out. And when all the chips were on the table, the Lakers were the ones who found a way to win, which is what it all comes down to. That doesn’t mean that they won’t make it interesting, but if they can continue to perform with the kind of heart we saw over the last three quarters of this one, they should still make it through. So we can start this whole process over again with Cleveland. Or Orlando, apparently.

Game recap:

Highlights:

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A Heartening Loss?

Posted by hiphopmama on February 27, 2009

If I never hear another "Bird Man" reference again it will be too soon.

If I never hear another "Bird Man" reference again it will be too soon.

LA Lakers 79, Denver 90

(48-11)

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.

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