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Five ways the Lakers' Game 5 loss could have severe implications

May 09, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Lakers forward Pau Gasol, right, and Denver's Al Harrington battle for a rebound during the first half of Tuesday's playoff game.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol, right, and Denver's Al Harrington battle… (Lakers forward Pau Gasol,…)

Here are five reasons why the Lakers' Game 5 loss Tuesday to the Denver Nuggets should cause plenty of concern around Laker land.

1. The Nuggets suddenly have confidence. On paper, Denver appeared incredibly overmatched. The Nuggets don't have enough size. They don't have enough superstars. They don't have a definitive player that closes out games. Meanwhile, the Lakers have two 7-footers, a fellow named Kobe Bryant and four members of their starting lineup are  linked to the 2010 NBA championship team.

But as the series has progressed, the Nuggets have shown they can beat the Lakers if they outwork them. If JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried repeatedly throw double teams at  Andrew Bynum, he could lose his patience  in the post and his interest on defense. If the Nuggets' Ty Lawson and Andre Miller push the floor, there's a good chance Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions can't keep up. If the Nuggets scrap for hustle plays, it's more likely they'll play at a high tempo. Meanwhile, the Lakers won Game 1 because they instantly proved a mismatch. They won Game 2 because Bryant had a hot shooting night. And they won Game 4 because Blake and Sessions hit crucial shots late in the game.   The Nuggets could've won two of the games they lost.

2. The Lakers have less time to rest against Oklahoma City.   The Lakers' whiteboard after the Game 5 loss read, "Flight, 3:00 pm. Pack for 3 games." That's because the Lakers'  schedule is unclear. If the Lakers win Game 6 on Thursday at Denver, Game 1 at Oklahoma City in the next round would take place Saturday. If the Lakers lose again to the Nuggets, the deciding Game 7 will take place Saturday at Staples Center. Neither scenario sounds as good as the schedule the Lakers would've faced had they  closed the Denver series out in Game 5. The Lakers would've stayed in Los Angeles until Friday and might have earned a  day off on Wednesday.

"I don't care if you give us a year to rest," Bryant said. "If we're fortunate enough to move on and play Oklahoma, that year's rest isn't going to make us any faster."

True, but the compacted schedule could do other things. It could make the Lakers more fatigued and less able to keep up with the speedy Thunder. It could make the Lakers less healthy considering Matt Barnes has  played despite a sprained right ankle. It could make the Lakers feel more stressed out because of the tight turnaround.

3. They have less time to prepare for the Thunder. During the regular season, Lakers players infamously dubbed Coach Mike Brown "All Day, Every Day" because he tried to cram film sessions and practice time  within a compacted schedule. At the beginning of the Lakers-Nuggets series, players largely praised Brown for the way that  detailed scouting reports and walk-throughs helped them feel prepared.

The Nuggets have since adjusted, while the Lakers haven't shown as consistent a focus. But there's no question that Brown's detailed practices helped lay a strong foundation. That would've at least helped set a tone for a series against the Thunder.

4. Kendrick Perkins may have more time to heal. The Oklahoman newspaper's Darnell Mayberry reported that Perkins sat out Tuesday's practice and is  listed as day to day after suffering a right hip strain. OKC is obviously hoping the rest and treatment will be enough, but that window could expand should the Lakers have to go a full seven games.

Perkins' availability would play a huge part in how well the Lakers match up inside. He defended and frustrated Bynum so well on April 22 that he posted only 10 points on five-of-15 shooting and made a questionable effort on defense, prompting Brown to yank him in favor of Jordan Hill. This would add an interesting story line considering Boston fans still contend that the Lakers would've lost the 2010 NBA Finals except for Perkins' absence.

During that series, Perkins tore the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee, causing him to miss the final three quarters of Game 6 and all of  Game 7.

5. Metta World Peace wouldn't miss the series. As soon as the Lakers lost Game 3, plenty of fans tweeted to me that they intentionally lost that game so World Peace wouldn't have to finish out his suspension against the Thunder. The theory is beyond ridiculous because of the factors cited above. But it nonetheless is an unintended consequence. Who knows if World Peace will replicate the 14 points per game he averaged in April as well as his tough defense, or if he'll lack focus as he did earlier in the season? But Brown said before Game 5 that he's liked how hard World Peace has worked in practices and morning shoot-arounds.


Andrew Bynum makes it tough for Lakers in close-out game

Kobe Bryant had his hands full in Lakers' loss to Denver

Lakers miss a prime opportunity to close out series

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