As the clock winds down to the tip-off of Game Two between the Lakers and the Nuggets, some random thoughts came to mind. So instead of keeping them to myself, here they are in no particular order.
1) Linas Kleiza Needs To Start For The Nuggets
I came to this conclusion after the 6-8 forward had played about 10 minutes in Game One. He was one of the most active players on the floor for Denver. He was crashing the boards, getting into passing lanes, and running the floor on the fast breaks. Look for George Karl to insert Kleiza into the starting lineup Wednesday night in place of Anthony Carter. The move would allow Kenyon Martin to stay on Kobe Bryant and help the Nuggets improve their rebounding. The pressure of starting shouldn't affect Kleiza. In addition to scoring 23 points off the bench in Game One, he started 13 times this season for the Nuggets.
2) Will The Trash Talking Continue?
I posted earlier about how much I actually enjoy trash talking in professional sports, especially basketball. From from my seats near the court, I can usually hear some of the conversations or at least do a little lip-reading. Having said that, however, I was actually a little surprised at how much jawing was going on during Game One. Kobe Bryant has never shied away from a verbal sparring session, but I couldn't believe how long he and Kenyon Martin were going back and forth before getting hit with double technicals. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues.
3) Will Anthony Carter Seek Revenge On Kobe?
I'm sure you saw the play where Carter tried to grab Kobe on a breakaway and then pushed him after the play. Carter was given a tech for the shove, but he said it was justified because Kobe hit him in the face. Evidently, that play was not the first time Kobe had gone upside Carter's head. The Nuggets guard complained after the game that Kobe had hit him in the face on more than one occasion this season. In fact, Carter says it's happened so often that he asked the team's video coordinator to put together a DVD to send to the league showing Kobe's flailing arms.
4) Allen Iverson Is The Toughest SOB In The League
I know this statement isn't really saying anything that hasn't been said before. But every time I see him play in person, I'm reminded of just how much punishment he takes on a nightly basis. Iverson on the court is like a poodle running with the bulls in Pamplona. You wonder why he's even out there when he's destined to get run over several times. But Iverson is more rottweiler than poodle. He's more Brutus than Fifi. He may take the pounding, but he always comes back for more. And oftentimes, he's the one leading the pack at the end. Pound for pound, no one is even close to his skill and pain threshold levels. And consider this stat note. Coming into this postseason, his 30 point playoff scoring average was second all time. Only Michael Jordan posted a better scoring average in the postseason.
5) The Nuggets Cannot Win The Series
I believed that before the series started, and now I know it for sure. My reasoning is simple. The Nuggets don't defend. The Nuggets can't defend. Hell, they might not even know how. They were one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season, and there's no way that will improve during the course of a 7-game series. I thought George Karl's move to put Kenyon Martin on Kobe Bryant was a good decision. But if Marcus Camby constantly has to leave his man to help his teammates, the Lakers will continue to get layups and victories.
6) Laker Fans Took Melo Rants Too Far
I know fans will be fans, but when some of the Laker Faithful started chanting "D-U-I, D-U-I" when Carmelo Anthony was shooting free throws, I believe they crossed the line. I'm not condoning drinking and driving, but calling out someone for such a transgression has nothing to do with what's going down on the court. The irony is, I wonder how many of the fans yelling "D-U-I" drove away from Staples Center after having one or two more drinks than the law allows. And one other thing, do you think Jerry Buss felt a bit ashamed when those chants rang out? I'm sure those three letters are something he would not like to be reminded of. And don't forget Laker fans, Kobe still has to play at least two games in Denver, where no one has forgotten about a certain rape trial. Case dropped or not, you can almost guarantee some fans will remind Kobe of some of his previous time spent there.