Denver came out of the gates in a dead sprint behind the enthusiastic play of point guard Ty Lawson. The Nuggets took the first quarter 30-14.
That’s right, the Lakers were down 24 points after one quarter of play.
Some say this was due to Denver’s up tempo attack, but the reality is that the Lakers just looked bored.
This is a Lakers team that dominated the Nuggets in games one and two. The downside of all that domination was lethargy in game three. While Kobe has the mental strength to maintain focus, players like Andrew Bynum certainly do not.
After the game, George Karl wanted to focus on everything his team had done right, instead of everything Los Angeles had done wrong.
"The game for us is all about our energy and our enthusiasm," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "It's not complicated for us. When we play poorly we don't play with enough energy, we don't push the pace and we take too many jump shots.
The Nuggets were lead by Ty Lawson who went for 25 points and 7 assists on 9-19 shooting. JaVale McGee went for a dominant double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds and Kenneth Farled also racked up a monster double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
The real shocker in this game was Denver’s ability to dominate in the paint. Wasn’t this a Lakers team everyone was saying was strong in the middle with Bynum and Gasol? Weren’t the ESPN pundits just yapping about how Bynum could be better than Dwight Howard two nights ago? Fast forward two days and Bynum looks like he’s not even one of the best two big men on the court, let alone the league. I attribute this Denver loss as much to the Nuggets solid play as the Lakers lack of effort.
Yes, Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds, but when it comes time to score in the crunch, he vanishes. Is Bynum simply good for putting up good numbers and not wins? Yes, Kobe went for 22 points and 6 assists, but where was the energy?
This Laker team is going to have to come together if they hope at making a legit run at the Western Conference. One of their obvious weaknesses is bench play.
The Lakers bench only produced nine points in their game 3 loss. That will have to change in game 4 or the Lakers might get the surprise of the year with a dog fight against Denver that goes six or even seven games.
The silver lining on an extended series for L.A. is that Metta World Peace comes back after six playoff games. He has been the leader off their bench, scoring all year long, and they certainly miss his points now.
Yet, if the Lakers beat Denver in 6 games, Metta is back for game one against the Thunder; and the Lakers attack would likely back.
Photo Credit: AP
Michael Brouillet is the lead basketball writer for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him @Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.