Denver rookie Faried not affected by L.A.'s physical play
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers keep trying to bully Nuggets rookie Kenneth Faried.
They body-check him when he runs in the open floor. They grapple with him when he battles in the lane.
And in the most demonstrative statement yet, Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant clocked Faried in the head on a fast break, drawing a flagrant foul 1 in Game 6 of a hard-fought Western Conference playoff series.
The unflappable forward just gets up and keeps smiling.
“They’re beating up Kenneth Faried and it’s making us tougher,” Nuggets coach George Karl declared Friday. “We’re seeing that kid stand up to all their cheap shots. Kenneth Faried just gets right back up and stands up and is stronger and stronger.”
With Faried running fly patterns down the court as often as possible, Karl described Los Angeles’ defense as “bump-and-run” coverage aimed at slowing him down. He said the tactics have motivated Faried’s fellow big men Timofey Mozgov and JaVale McGee to get physical as well.
“You can see it make Timo and JaVale and our veteran guys want to fight for him and with him,” Karl said. “I don’t remember a rookie having that influence in a long time on the toughness and energy of the game. All Game 7s are tremendously physical and energized, and Kenneth is our leader there.”
Faried, selected 22nd overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, has become indispensible to the Nuggets after working his way into the lineup midway through the season. Averaging a double-double (11.2 points, 10 rebounds) in his first playoff series, he's not about to let a little physical play affect him now.
“I always been able to keep my cool,” he said. “Since I was young, people tried to hurt me because I was athletic. It’s just another obstacle.”
BIRTHDAY GREETINGS: With a victory in Game 7, the Nuggets could deliver their coach the perfect gift for his 61st birthday.
Karl has coached on his birthday five previous times, going 2-3 in those games.
The Seattle SuperSonics beat the Houston Rockets to complete a four-game sweep on May 12, 1996, and they also beat the Rockets in Game 2 of a seven-game series victory on May 12, 1993.
Karl twice has lost playoff games to the Lakers on his birthday – in 1998 with the Sonics and in 1987 with the Golden State Warriors. Seattle also lost to the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on May 12, 1992.
HOUSE CALL: After another tough shooting night that left him 2-for-16 from three-point range in the series, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson sent a 2 a.m. text to Ivory Manning, the shooting coach who helped him during workouts leading up to the 2009 NBA Draft.
“I was like, ‘Pack your bags, let’s go,’ ” Lawson said. “He came straight out.”
Manning, who lives in Las Vegas, was scheduled to meet with former Nuggets guard Raymond Felton, but he flew to Denver for a workouts with Lawson on Wednesday and Thursday. The results were immediate as Lawson hit his first four three-pointers and finished 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
The key, Lawson said, was keeping his right shooting elbow closer to his body, which helped him stay square to the rim. He also focused on finishing with a higher release point.