With such a crammed schedule due to the lockout, the Denver Nuggets have an advantage over many teams due to their depth. This impact is particularly true on the defensive end, where the Nuggets can utilize their athletic and deep rotation. In the opening quarter against the Lakers, the Nuggets defense caused numerous problems, as they forced five turnovers to jump out to a 23-22 lead.
Both teams utilized their talented big guys on the offensive end in the opening 12 minutes. In his first appearance this season, Andrew Bynum looked particularly impressive, netting a game-high 10 points in just nine minutes. However, Nene proved to be an anchor in the paint for the Nuggets, scoring seven points on 3/4 shooting from the field.
The Nuggets received an early boost from their bench, with Andre Miller and Al Harrington each scoring four points in limited minutes. Danilo Gallinari also scored four points in the opening quarter. Denver did an excellent job slowing down Kobe Bryant, who finished the first quarter scoreless.