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Scott Howard-Cooper

Ty Lawson was limited to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting in a Game 1 loss to the Lakers.
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Lawson itching to get up to speed against Lakers in Game 2

Posted May 1 2012 9:42AM

Two days later, he still isn't running.

Two days later, Ty Lawson is a stationary target. He is the point guard who did not get the Nuggets into the autobahn offense they desperately need to counter the size and power of the Lakers. He is the veteran of three seasons and two previous trips to the playoffs who did not block out the aggravating distractions. He is the first to admit it.

Two days later, he is standing there and taking it. Sunday's 103-88 loss in the opener of the first-round series has become the promise of a return to the speedball Nuggets in Game 2 tonight at Staples Center. Denver's season is essentially on the line, not to mention Lawson's good word now that redemption has been assured.

His play the other day, Lawson described, was "Probably tentative" and "Not really attacking like I normally do."

"I don't know," he told in a moment of contemplation before practice Monday. "But it's going to be different in Game 2."

There is no way to know that for sure. He shot much worse in the four regular-season meetings against the Lakers than against the league as a whole (40 percent to 48.8) and scored far fewer points (12.3 to 16.4), only posting an improvement in assists (7.5 to 6.6), and then he had seven points on three-of-11 shooting with two assists and two turnovers on Sunday.

"It's up to me to attack," Lawson countered. "So if I say I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it."

This is the Lawson the Nuggets need to see, channeling action even off the court, strapping on the jet pack, taking responsibility the way a leader should. It's not all on him, of course. But he is the point guard for a team that wants a rush offense, and coach George Karl did just happen to mention on the same downshift of a Sunday that Lawson needed to "honor" his prominent role. So, yeah, this is about attitude and approach.

"I think it's a privilege to play the Lakers in a seven-game series after a great season," Karl said Monday when asked to expand on the statement. "It's kind of a respect or humility toward the game of basketball that when you do things the right way, you get rewarded. Ty has done a great job this year for us. It's a privilege for us to give him the ball. It's a respect that we think he can do the job and we also think we need him to do the job.

"We had way too many what I would basically call regular-season basketball plays rather than playoff-basketball plays. That's what I thought the Lakers did extremely well. Their focus didn't break down very often in that whole game. I thought the last 30 minutes of the game, it was pretty fair, even. But the first 10, 15 minutes of the game, they were at a better level than we were."

Before tip and into the first half, Lawson was becoming increasingly frustrated with the stream of advice being thrown at him. Dealing with the Lakers would have been challenge enough on its own. But he got taken out of his game by the Nuggets.

"It has to be more not trying to please everybody," Lawson said. "I probably had 10 different people coming to me saying, 'Do this, do that' instead of just trusting my skills and playing myself."

People? "Certain people," he said, not wanting to get specific, but clearly he was annoyed. It was such a difference from the regular season.

"It was way different," Lawson said.

Those people weren't in your ear like that the previous four months?

"Not during the game," he said. "Not right before the game. People coming up and showing you video and things like that. I'm going to just try to block everybody out and play myself."

The approach is a good start. Now Lawson and the Nuggets need better focus and execution.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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