Gameday: Lakers 103, Nuggets 88

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Denver Nuggets 14 26 24 24 88
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 27 23 27 26 103

Bynum's triple-double leads Lakers past Nuggets


Posted Apr 29 2012 3:11PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, Andrew Bynum posted the Lakers' first playoff triple-double in 21 years with an NBA postseason record-tying 10 blocked shots, and Los Angeles thoroughly controlled the tempo in a playoff-opening 103-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

Bynum, the Lakers' All-Star center coming off his best regular season, also had 10 points and 13 rebounds while incredibly blocking 11 percent of the Nuggets' 90 shots.

While Bynum had the Lakers' first playoff triple-double since Magic Johnson in the 1991 NBA finals, fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol added 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the playoff-tested Lakers, who never trailed while forcing the NBA's highest-scoring team to play Los Angeles' preferred half-court style.

Game 2 is Tuesday night.

Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points for the sixth-seeded Nuggets, but the NBA's second-youngest playoff roster struggled to run. Andre Miller had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while helping out Ty Lawson, Denver's leading scorer, who managed just seven points while failing to make a shot in the first three quarters.

Bynum blocked eight shots in the first three quarters before surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's franchise-record nine blocks in the fourth. He swatted Timofey Mozgov's shot for No. 10 in the closing minutes to equal the NBA record set by Utah's Mark Eaton on April 26, 1985, and matched by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon on April 29, 1990.

Ramon Sessions had 14 points and five assists in his first career playoff game for the third-seeded Lakers. Largely thanks to Bynum's defensive dominance, Los Angeles avoided the embarrassment of last season's playoff-opening loss to New Orleans, never getting into trouble while opening the Lakers' third playoff meeting with Denver in five years.

Devin Ebanks scored all of his 12 points in the first half while starting his first career playoff game in place of suspended Metta World Peace. The Lakers didn't miss their defensive stopper while forcing most of Denver's key contributors into poor games.

Bryant scored 23 points in the second half to open the 15th playoff campaign of his 16-year career. The third-leading scorer in NBA playoff history, trailing only Michael Jordan and Abdul-Jabbar, hadn't played in a week, sitting out the Lakers' last game alongside Gasol and Bynum to keep his high-mileage legs fresh for the playoffs.

Sessions and Ebanks both made their playoff debuts, while Mike Brown coached the Lakers in their first playoff game at Staples Center, which opened in 1999, without Phil Jackson commanding their bench from his oversized chair.

The Lakers won three of four in the clubs' regular-season series largely by limiting the Nuggets' vaunted transition game and dominating inside. They limited Denver to just seven fast-break points in the first half, and the Nuggets never found their stride.

Los Angeles jumped to an early 13-point lead with three 3-pointers from Steve Blake and a big first half from Ebanks, the second-year pro who has rarely played consistent minutes in his NBA career. Denver coach George Karl acknowledged he didn't know how to pronounce Ebanks' last name before the game, but Ebanks got his attention with 5-for-6 shooting while running the break at Denver's tempo.

NOTES: Bynum also blocked seven shots on June 6, 2010, in Game 2 of the NBA finals against Boston. ... The Lakers handed out white giveaway T-shirts reading "One at a Time," but in a Staples Center tradition, most of the crowd declined to wear them. ... Fans in attendance included Megan Fox, David Beckham, Meagan Good and Brian Austin Green.

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Lakers take on the Denver Nuggets Sunday, April 29th at Staples Center at 12:30PM. Catch all the action on ABC and 710ESPN.

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Points Bryant 31, 11-24
Rebounds Bynum 13, 2 OFF 11 DEF
Assists Gasol 8
Steals Barnes 4
Blocks Bynum 10


Mike Brown:

Lakers coach Mike Brown’s opening statement:
“they really played the game the right way on the defensive end of the floor. We had very few breakdowns in our game plan so the game plan discipline was there. Obviously, Denver missed some shots and we understand that they’ll come out and be better on Tuesday. But our guys stepped up and played a solid basketball game at both ends of the floor. We had a lot of guys that obviously stood out. We can go to our bench and Steve Blake hitting those three threes in the first quarter to help us break open the game a little bit was huge. We know Denver is doubling and they’re going to double from all over the place, they’re doubling quick and they’re going to double hard. We have to make sure that we space the floor very well and move the ball at the right time without turning it over, making an easy pass to an open guy and let him make the assist versus the a double because we know it’s coming on a lot of our guys from Pau [Gasol], to Andrew [Bynum], to Kobe [Bryant].”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on the bench’s performance:
“Steve Blake’s three threes early on was huge. Jordan Hill coming off the bench and coming up with another double-double with ten and ten in two blocked shots, he impacted the game in his twenty-four minutes.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on the starters:
“I thought that from our starting group we got good stuff from everybody. [Devin] Ebanks played twenty minutes and he got twelve points on five for six shooting and five rebounds. It was a great night for him. I thought that [Ramon] Sessions with the fourteen and five that he got was big. Defensively I thought he was really solid too. He was trying to move his feet and trying to play physical and aggressive without fouling. I thought that his twenty-nine were huge. Obviously, Kobe is Kobe and our two starting bigs had a heck of a game. One of them got a triple double which is amazing to me. The other one, he nearly had a triple double. Pau’s [Gasol] line of thirteen, eight, and eight was big with two blocks.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on Andrew Bynum’s game tonight:
“To me, the difference in the game is Andrew Bynum. He can control a game without shooting a single shot if he wanted to. He could literally control a game without shooting a shot. That’s how good he is. He has ten blocks here but I’d be curious to know how many he probably changed. He changed a gazillion shots in the paint and that’s what Denver is very good at, getting that ball in the paint, drive and finishing at the rim and getting a lot of layups. He was phenomenal tonight and if he continues to play like he did, picking up a triple double, being the type of monster he was tonight patrolling that paint, we’ll be playing a long time.”

Pau Gasol:

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on the team’s defensive performance tonight:
“We’re consistent defensively. The opportunities are going to be there for us and we’re going to be very effective. Offensively, we have enough to match up against any team but defense is what makes the biggest difference with our team. We just have to be mentally ready for every game to give this kind of effort.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on whether he has seen a player be more dominant defensively than Andrew Bynum was today:
“Not as controlling as this one was just by his activity and his desire to challenge shots– it made a big difference, it made a big impact. Regardless of what goes on the offensive end, how many touches you get, obviously they’re trying to get the ball out of his hands a lot because of his success during the season against them but he was active and energetic on the defensive end. That just puts us in another dimension as a team.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on how the team limited the Nuggets scoring opportunities:
“We didn’t allow Lawson to get going and attack the paint, that was important. I think we kept a lot of the guys at bad shooting percentages. We can’t bank on that every time or every game. But I was happy to see the level of activity we brought in to today and we’ll need to continue to bring it throughout the series and throughout the playoffs.”

Andrew Bynum:

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on keeping the Nuggets to 88 points tonight:
“We were up on all the screen and rolls and really slowed the ball game down by finding the inside to Kobe [Bryant] and Pau [Gasol].”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on keeping up their performance through the first round:
“Well, the way this team is guarding me it’s definitely possible because they take me but out of the game offensively with the doubles and triples so I’m just looking for another way to be effective.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on controlling the game defensively:
“Bottom line is wins. Obviously, I want to score more points but sometimes that’s not what’s available to you so you have to do the next best thing.”

Kobe Bryant:

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on holding the Nuggets to 88 points
“Today we were very good defensively, very active and contested everything.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on Andrew Bynum’s performance today:
“His timing was impeccable today. He just really understood the rhythm of the offensive players. He was just there at the exact moment to either change the shot or block it.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on empowering the team:
“You have to sometimes force the game upon them. It’s very easy sometimes when a player has a lot of talent to want to do everything, but that’s not going to get it done. You have to have everybody on the floor that can make decisions, feel comfortable making decisions and in turn it makes us a better team.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on whether today’s win is comparable to setting a personal record:
“More so, even more so. Andrew [Bynum] obviously takes the majority of the headlines with his triple-double, but Pau [Gasol] was right behind him, 2 rebounds and 2 assists away. Ebanks played extremely well. Blake played extremely well. Sessions in his first playoff game stepped up and played well. Not to mention Jordan Hill, he had a monster game coming off the bench.”

Danilo Gallinari:

Nuggets’ Danilo Gallinari on the play of the Lakers bigs:
“They shot 13 less shots in the paint than us but they scored 20 more points than us. We were getting in the paint but they were blocking shots and playing very good defense. In the next game we need to score the ball better in the paint.”

Nuggets’ Danilo Gallinari on the team’s lack of rhythm:
“We were thinking too much. One of the best things we do is being aggressive at all times and not thinking too much. We were thinking a lot tonight. Everybody when they got the ball, instead of going to the basket and being aggressive, they were being hesitant.”

Ty Lawson:

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on straying from the game plan:
“We didn’t execute the game plan too much. Our game plan is to get out and run and we didn’t do that today. We missed open shots. We’re going to clean it up and be ready for the next game on Tuesday.”

Nuggets’ Ty Lawson on getting ready for game two:
“They just played a good game. No one is going to have their heads down or anything like that. We’re going to come back. We’re all fighters on this team so we’re going to have a good game when we come back Tuesday.”

Al Harrington:

Nuggets’ Al Harrington on straying from the game plan:
“They stopped us from doing what we wanted to do. We’ve got to do a better job of executing and running a little faster and running a little harder. I expect us to play better game two.”

Nuggets’ Al Harrington on the need to get out and run more:
“That’s what our team is all about. We’re about the fast break and playing fast. Whenever we don’t do that we struggle. We’ve got to put our track shoes on next game and try to out run their bigs.”

Kenneth Faried:

Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried on getting out to a better start:
“We’ve got to hit them early. We can’t come out flat and go down by 10 or 15 points. We’ve got to try to get the lead early. If they get the lead and get going early it’s going to be a long night.”

Nuggets - Lakers Preview


Instead of worrying about the Black Mamba at Saturday's practice, the Denver Nuggets couldn't stop talking about the Rattlesnake.

That's their new nickname for Arron Afflalo, coined by point guard Andre Miller for the former UCLA guard's quick-strike moves.

''I know I don't want to get bit by either one,'' Denver coach George Karl said.

Everybody got a good laugh before the Nuggets got down to business on orchestrating a major playoff upset.

The Nuggets are facing the aforementioned Mamba and his Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason for the third time in five years, starting with Game 1 at Staples Center on Sunday, so Karl already knows plenty about what doesn't work against Kobe Bryant and his 7-foot teammates.

The Nuggets see a chance to get it right this time, but only if they run the Lakers off the court. The NBA's highest-scoring team will attempt to run relentlessly, using its excellent transition offense to force its preferred tempo on an opponent missing Metta World Peace, arguably Los Angeles' best defensive player.

''When they miss shots, we've got to run out and get the game at our pace,'' said guard Ty Lawson, the Nuggets' leading scorer. ''We know they're going to try to slow it down, but we can't change our game plan. We're going to do what we do.'' The third-seeded Lakers open their quest for their 17th NBA title against another perennial playoff team with sharply contrasting personnel and style. While Los Angeles is built around Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol on both ends of a half-court game, the Nuggets excel with speed and transition because they're the best team in the NBA at making layups, according to Lakers coach Mike Brown.

Karl has plenty of schemes to cause trouble for the Lakers, and he employed a few in the Nuggets' last visit to Staples Center two weeks ago. Denver can employ a small lineup that forces Brown to use Bynum less, but the Lakers overcame it for a six-point win over the Nuggets even while Bryant sat out to rest a bruised shin.

''I just feel like we're playing well,'' said Bryant, who has missed the playoffs just once in his 16-season Lakers career. ''We've got good size, and we're playing in a good rhythm. ... (With) their speed, their versatility, they can really go to a small lineup, and it can be pretty problematic for us.''

The Lakers are confident they're ready for their first playoff run under Brown, who replaced 11-time champion Phil Jackson. Jackson's final Lakers team lost its playoff opener last spring to New Orleans - a team with much less playoff experience and togetherness than these Nuggets - before getting swept by Dallas in the second round.

''For the guys that were here last year, it's great to get out there to redeem yourselves for what took place last year,'' Bryant said.

Bryant and Bynum are both remarkably healthy heading into the postseason, in sharp contrast to several previous Lakers playoff campaigns. Bryant sat out eight of the Lakers' final 10 games to rest from the compacted schedule, and his oft-injured knees are in good shape.

Denver had to win eight of its final 10 games to earn the sixth seed, while the Lakers clinched the Pacific Division title and the third seed earlier in the week. That allowed Brown to rest Bryant, Gasol, Bynum and injured reserve Matt Barnes in their final regular-season game, giving Los Angeles' stars a full week off before hosting the Nuggets.

While the Lakers' core has ample playoff experience, Ramon Sessions is eager to start at point guard in the first playoff game of his five-season, four-team NBA career. Sessions' speed and quickness provided a huge late-season boost to the sometimes-plodding Lakers after they traded five-time champion Derek Fisher, and they could interfere with Denver's plans.

''Everybody knows this is what they do around here,'' Sessions said. ''That's the reason they've got 16 banners hanging up. It's an honor to be with a team that's going to the playoffs and playing to win the whole thing.''

Los Angeles must play its next six games without the suspended World Peace, who can practice and travel with the Lakers. Low-scoring Devin Ebanks will start in World Peace's spot, and Barnes is ''100 percent'' certain he'll play off the bench on his still-painful sprained ankle.

Karl isn't terribly encouraged by World Peace's absence, realizing the mercurial defensive specialist isn't the Nuggets' biggest problem.

If Karl doesn't play small-ball, the Nuggets have an array of big men who can take a shot at guarding Bynum and Gasol, including newcomer JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Timofey Mozgov, Al Harrington and even Chris Andersen. Karl joked the Nuggets should take a page out of the NHL playbook and send out their centers in shifts every few possessions, if only NBA substitution rules allowed it.

''They have more talent than we probably have, and I think we rely on teamwork more than they do,'' Karl said. ''I think we've been dealt some good things with Artest being out, and Barnes, I hope he's got a sore ankle.''

L SAC 113, LAL 96
W LAL 114, OKC 106
L SAS 121, LAL 97
W LAL 99, GSW 87
L SAS 112, LAL 91
Probable Starters
#3 Ebanks SF #8 Gallinari
#16 Gasol PF #35 Faried
#17 Bynum C #41 Koufos
#24 Bryant SG #6 Afflalo
#7 Sessions PG #3 Lawson

Lakers Matt Barnes
(sprained right ankle) is day-to-day.
Devin Ebanks
(middle & ring finger contusions, left hand) is probable.
Ramon Sessions
(sprained left shoulder - ac joint) is probable.

Al Harrington
(right knee strain) is probable.
Wilson Chandler
(left hip, labral tear) is out.
Rudy Fernandez
(lower back strain) is out.

Game 1: 4/29 - DEN @ LAL
Game 2: 5/01 - DEN @ LAL
Game 3: 5/31 - LAL @ DEN
Game 4: 5/06 - LAL @ DEN
* Game 5: 5/08 - DEN @ LAL
* Game 6: 5/10 - LAL @ DEN
* Game 7: 5/12 - DEN @ LAL
Game 1: 12/31 - DEN @ LAL W 92-89
Game 2: 01/01 - LAL @ DEN L 99-90
Game 3: 02/03 - LAL @ DEN W 93-89
Game 4: 04/13 - DEN @ LAL W 103-97

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