NBA Playoffs: Nuggets are biggest flop in playoffs
By Bill Plaschke
Los Angeles Times
DENVER ó You want some nuggets? I’ll give you three nuggets.
I know, I know, this is supposed to be a column about the greatness of the Los Angeles Lakers after a 102-84 victory over Denver’s pro basketball team Saturday gave them a three-games-to-none lead in their opening playoff series.
But you can’t praise the ability of a lawn mower without denoting the length of the grass.
And the Denver Nuggets are playing like dirt.
They ignore each other. They disrespect their coach. They scoff at fundamentals.
They are a vastly talented team that has chosen not to offer the Lakers even a fair fight, which is overwhelming in its unfairness.
How can the Lakers judge their playoff acumen if they are beating a Nuggets team whose most energetic moment Saturday occurred in the fourth quarter when their coach, George Karl, was being heckled?
“Just don’t sit there!”
The heckler’s name? Carmelo Anthony.
How can the Lakers judge their playoff toughness on the road if the most emotional moment in the Pepsi Center stands Saturday occurred late in the game during a wild-swinging fight between two fans?
Two Nuggets fans.
By that time, the game was so awful, most of the Lakers turned to watch the brawl.
The second-most emotional fan moment occurred in the final moments when some of the Denver folk began chanting, “MVP, MVP.”
Not for Allen Iverson, but for Kobe Bryant.
Yeah, it was a real mess, which makes the Lakers a hard team to figure out right now.
We know San Antonio is good enough to win three straight against the tough Phoenix Suns.
It turns out, all we know about the Lakers is that they can win three straight against the junior varsity.
“I don’t know about the Lakers being a great team,” said Iverson, honestly. “I know they’re a good team.”
To win Saturday, they simply had to be a breathing team.
In the Nuggets’ previous two losses to the Lakers back in Los Angeles, they just stunk.
On Saturday, in what they had pronounced their most important game of their season, they just quit.
That’s not my opinion, that’s their opinion.
“We gave up as a whole, and that’s uncalled for,” Anthony said afterward. “We quit. Everybody.”
The Nuggets’ marquee forward was horrendous during the game, making only five of 22 shots, losing the ball on dumb dribbles and silly jumpers, a real oinker of a ball hog.
The only time he seemed to be in control was afterward, sitting in front of his locker, when he summoned the media to gather around him.
And after missing all night, he finally starting hitting, swishing long rips from every direction.
Asked to expound upon his “quit” quote, he said that, actually, others were quitting more than him.
“There is no way I can lay down on my team the way we laid down tonight,” he said.
He said the white flag was unfurled in the third quarter when the Nuggets, who started the game lazily missing 12 of their first 14 shots, finally pulled back to within 10 points.
The crowd was roaring. The Nuggets’ interest seemed growing.
Then the Lakers, with splendid passing and suffocating defense, calmly outscored them 14-5 for the rest of the quarter to clinch it.
“You could sense it, you could just see it,” Anthony said. “We gave up.”