Lakers-Nuggets: Why Is the Gap this Big?
Three games into the Los Angeles Lakers–Denver Nuggets first round showdown, we have seen that the Lakers have been dominating the Nuggets in almost all facets of the game. Particularly in Game 3, the Lakers utilized a balanced attack to dash any hopes of the Nuggets of making this a competitive series.
So what are the Lakers doing? I can cite a few points:
The Lakers are sharing the ball – The Lakers’ total team assists have increased in this series.
The Lakers are scoring more and more efficiently – It may because of Reason #1 that the Lakers are scoring 9 more points and shooting 49% from the field as a team. The team 3-point field goal percentage is better in this series. Pau Gasol and Luke Walton are examples of players who are getting better shots. And that brings us to…
Luke Walton – For of Kobe Bryant‘s brilliance in the series, Luke Walton has upped his game in the post season. With almost the same amount of playing time he had in the regular season, Luke Walton has doubled his scoring average, with similar results in his assists and rebounds. He’s also getting better opportunities to score, as shown in Game 1.
What about the Denver Nuggets? Everybody expected that they were going to run and gun, but get stymied by the Lakers in their own game. What could be the reasons?
Carmelo Anthony – Am I the only person who thinks Carmelo Anthony is losing his post-season credibility with every game? His scoring is down, and he was shooting almost 50% in the regular season, and it has slipped to 35% in the Lakers series. Is he distracted? He has publicly lambasted Denver Nuggets coach George Karl and there has been talk that either one of them will not be with the Nuggets next season.
No motivation in the locker room? – In Games 1-3, the Nuggets have played poorly compared to the Lakers after the half time break. As a matter of fact, it is in the third quarter where the Nuggets have scored the least in two of the three games. This maybe related to the Carmelo-Karl rift being reported.
The Nuggets’ frontline – Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin and Eduardo Najera should be bulldozing over the "softer" Pau Gasol and Ronny Turiaf, but it’s not happening. Camby is scoring far, far less with only 3 points a game and turning the ball over more. K-Mart also is scoring less and not playing efficient defense, he has incurred more fouls. Somebody should tell Najera that being rough in the game is better when you’re actually stopping the other team from scoring.
The bottom line here is that playoff basketball is all about players and teams to rising to the occasion and the Lakers and Nuggets are showing the two opposite sides of that story.
Read more of Regnard Raquedan’s writing on the Lakers at Big Lakers Fan.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguelyartistic/]