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Lakers need to pick up their board game against Denver

The Lakers, the NBA's No. 2 rebounding team this season, have been out-rebounded by the smaller Nuggets in back-to-back playoff games. A repeat of that Sunday could leave the first-round series tied.

May 05, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Andrew Bynum battles for a rebound with Denver's Ty Lawson, left, and Kenneth Faried during the Lakers' loss to the Nuggets on Friday. The Lakers were out-rebounded, 54-44, during that game.
Andrew Bynum battles for a rebound with Denver's Ty Lawson, left,… (Rick Giase / EPA )

DENVER — — Somehow the Lakers are getting out-rebounded by the Denver Nuggets, a ridiculous development for a team that, if nothing else, dominated the rebounding category all season.

The Lakers were beaten on the boards a second consecutive game in their first-round series, which really made no sense.

Nuggets rookie Kenneth Faried is active, energetic and all those things . . . as well as only 6 feet 8. Center Timofey Mozgov, a last-minute starter in Game 3, has a career average of 3.4 rebounds.

Seven-footer JaVale McGee is averaging 10 rebounds off the bench, almost doubling his regular-season output with the Nuggets (5.8).

Uh, effort, anybody?

The Lakers were second in the NBA in regular-season rebounding. Their big men might want to live up to it Sunday in Game 4 or else the Nuggets can tie the best-of-seven series.

"They're attacking the offensive glass," Andrew Bynum said Saturday, shrugging. "I don't know."

Ramon Sessions had more rebounds (nine) than Pau Gasol (seven) in Game 3. Bynum admitted he wasn't ready for the altitude of Denver. He also claimed to be thrown off because he was late for his pregame routine.

The Nuggets won the battle on the boards Friday, 54-44. They also won it in Game 2, 52-48.

"We have to do a better job of just turning and finding bodies and putting bodies on them," Kobe Bryant said. "Us guards have to go in there and pick up the slack too."

There's plenty of slack to pick up.

The Lakers' reserves are being thoroughly outplayed by the Nuggets' backups, outscored by an average of 28.7 points each game.

Matt Barnes has had an entirely forgettable series, making four of 20 shots and averaging 3.3 points. He is one for 12 from three-point range.

Steve Blake had trouble making simple entry passes in Game 3. He is shooting 26.7% and has three points since the second quarter of Game 1.

Jordan Hill was averaging eight points and 10 rebounds until a silent Game 3 in which he went scoreless with six rebounds.

"It's no secret Matt's not shooting the ball well," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "He's working at it. He goes in early, he stays late. He stayed after the game, too, to shoot."

The Lakers can't afford to give up another 26-2 run like they did in the first half Friday. It was so bad, Bryant couldn't remember the last time something like it happened.

"Boston must have did that to us," he said, guessing the Celtics had a "40 to none" burst in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Actually, the best Boston did was a 20-3 run in their 131-92 victory. Score one for the Nuggets.

The Lakers also need to prove they can win on the road, a season-long issue.

They were 15-18 on the road this season, the main reason they finished nine games behind San Antonio (22-11 road record) and six games behind Oklahoma City (21-12) in the standings.

If they can't win Sunday, there's only one certainty: They'll be back in Denver for a Game 6.

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