I said before the series that if Denver was able to steal the first game because LA was hung over from the series against Houston, LA might be in trouble. LA managed to win game 1 by a margin that made the Senatorial election in Minnesota look like a landslide. Then came game 2 last night.
The Nugget win in Game 2 was impressive for several reasons. The biggest factor is that the Lakers have no way to counter either Chauncey Billups or Carmelo Anthony. LA PG Derek Fisher is not strong enough to get physical with Billups and not athletic enough to match his quickness. Fisher needs help but isn’t getting any because the other guys in gold have their own problems. Kobe Bryant is getting warn out trying to carry the entire team on his back.
A second indication that the Lakers are in trouble is the difference in the physicality of the bigs. Pau Gasol is a finesse player. It is also clear that Andrew Bynum is no where near 100%. Bynum doesn’t seem to have the explosiveness he showed before his latest injury. When Denver’s Nenê decides to play hard, Gasol and Bynum are little more than speed bumps on the way to the basket.
Lamar Odom is one of the most over rated players in the league. He is struggling against the Nuggets.
The one thing that the Lakers can depend on is their depth vs. that of the Nuggets. The Nugget starters may run out of gas because of the Laker depth. In game 1, the Denver bench did little to contribute. But in game 2 Linas Kleiza had a coming out party scoring 16 points on 5-8 shooting in 21 minutes. The Lakers have to hope that was a one time explosion.
The Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin is unchallenged on both ends of the floor. It seems no one in LA wants to get in his way. Maybe a Laker should have a chat with Martin’s Mom. Look how well that worked out for Dallas.
The Lakers are in trouble. They are going to have to get a split at Denver or they will be in danger of not making the finals. They either have to start to play much more physically or hope that Nenê and a couple of other Nuggets take some games off. I don’t expect that to happen.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .