The Denver Nuggets suffered a setback in their playoff push on Friday night as they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers, 103-97. The Lakers played their fourth consecutive game without Kobe Bryant (shin) and also didn't have head coach Mike Brown (family emergency), but Andrew Bynum poured in 30 points and reserve forward Matt Barnes added 24 points on a scorching 9-11 shooting and 4-4 from beyond the arc to lead to charge.
As for the Nuggets, it was a rough game for their starting five, who combined for just 43 of the team's 97 points. Arron Afflalo led that quintet with 18 points, but Danilo Gallinari (seven points, three turnovers), Kenneth Faried (seven points, seven rebounds) and Ty Lawson (nine points, four assists) notably lagged behind.
If you need to know how hardcore Nuggets fans felt watching the fourth quarter, Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs give a wonderful window into that emotional state:
Sure, that fourth quarter lineup was able to get the Nuggets back into the game, but it also exhausted any chance the Nuggets had to win. Remember that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace leads his troops into battle against impossible odds, then they actually start to win the battle, and all they need to put them over the top are their reinforcements that are laying in wait? The reinforcements that never came? Yep, when Wallace looked back for his fresh soldiers they refused to ride in for the rescue. Well, Karl did the same thing to his "trust" player by refusing to inject some fresh legs in the form of THE CORE OF THE DAMN TEAM!
Lawson, Danilo Gallinari (2-9 shooting, 7 points), and Kenneth Faried (18 minutes, SERIOUSLY?!?) rotted away on the bench. Aren't these guys the future of the team? Didn't the Nuggets commit serious money to Gallo? Clear the way for Lawson by trading Chauncey Billups and Raymond Felton? Deal Nene to allow Faried more minutes?...Unbelievable.
With the loss the Nuggets are now just one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA's Western Conference.