The McTen: Denver tip-in leaves L.A. ticked off

April, 3, 2011
4/03/11
11:09
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 95-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday ...

1

On Friday against Utah, Lamar Odom played sick.

On Sunday, a crucial play that didn't go his way late in the game made him sick.

Denver center Nene missed the second of two free throws with 11.3 seconds left with a chance to turn a three-point Nuggets lead into a two-possession game. Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin was lined up around the key with Odom between him and the basket and Ron Artest behind him.

Martin pushed Odom under the basket, tipped in the miss and put the game out of reach.

The normally easy-going Odom let his frustration show after the game, first chucking the basketball from one end of the court more than 60 feet towards the opposite basket and hitting a camera mounted on the top of the shot clock and later telling a reporter as he made his way across the locker room, "Second time ... Two times this year ... [Expletive]!"

The first time he was referencing came in the Lakers' Feb. 3 loss to San Antonio when Antonio McDyess lifted the Spurs to victory at the buzzer with a put-back over Odom.

"Me and Ron have been playing basketball together all our life and we didn’t communicate on that last free throw," Odom said. "You’re supposed to squeeze him, man.

"I was so mad at myself..."

Lakers head coach Phil Jackson was mad at the referees, who he felt missed a call against Martin.

"That’s a foul," said Jackson. "He just steamrolled Lamar underneath. But, it wasn’t called and that’s the way the game was being played today."

Not surprisingly, Denver head coach George Karl had his own take on Martin's basket.

"[Martin] beat me with the same tip-in in a playoff game when I was with Milwaukee," Karl said, remembering a first-round series between the Nets and Bucks in 2003. "He just did the exact same thing, pinned Anthony Mason underneath the basket in a free throw situation just like that. It’s a great play."

2

Lakers fans have had things pretty easy since the All-Star break. When your team wins 17 out of 18 games that tends to happen. But the purple and gold faithful across Southern California not only dealt with a loss Sunday, but two tenuous moments that made them wonder if they were seeing a three-peat threatening injury unfold.

First, Pau Gasol was fouled by Nene as he rose in the air for a dunk early in the third quarter. Gasol fell to the court hard with his right leg briefly getting stuck underneath him, causing stress on his right knee.

During the ensuing timeout, Gasol got up from the floor with his own two feet and stretched out the knee. He came back in the game to miss a free throw and register a turnover before checking out and heading straight to the locker room with trainer Gary Vitti. He returned to the game several minutes later after having the ligaments in his knee examined.

"It was just a little sore because I jammed my knee pretty good," Gasol said.

He will undergo a MRI on Monday.

"They allowed me to keep playing, so hopefully it will be nothing," Gasol added. "There’s still some swelling in there."

The other panic moment for Lakers fans came in the fourth quarter when Odom fell into Andrew Bynum, causing a flash of pain in his right knee.

"I’m alright," assured Bynum after the game, claiming the injury was nothing new. Bynum was taken out of the game with 7:15 remaining in the fourth quarter and did not return. He said he sat as a precautionary reason.

3

While Martin's tip-in sealed the loss for L.A., what really did the Lakers in were 20 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Nuggets.

"I told the team that we beat ourselves, but that’s not quite the story," said Jackson. "Denver I think was very aggressive creating the 20 turnovers that really hurt us in the course of the ball game."

Gasol thought the Nuggets got away with reaching in on a few occasions, but shouldered some of the blame after being responsible for more turnovers (four) than any of his teammates.

"Our detriment was we weren’t careful enough with the ball and they were active enough to get those steals," Gasol said.

4

The loss dropped L.A.'s record to just 10-7 (.588) on the season in Sunday games which is well below their overall .724 winning percentage for the season. Worse still, the Lakers are just 4-4 in Sunday games with an early start. Tip-off for the Nuggets game was 12:30 p.m. PT.

"I was concerned about this game," said Jackson. "Any game that is before 3 o’clock in the afternoon is difficult for us. We just have guys that don’t seem to respond well in the morning and the early afternoon."

5

Former Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter will be announced as a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Monday in Houston prior to the NCAA Championship Game. Click here to read the reaction to the news from Jackson and Kobe Bryant. Here's another story about Winter from Bryant that didn't make the article:

"He’s not going to sugarcoat anything. After when we won our second championship [in 2001], we came in right before we had the parade and we’re all sitting around and he’s talking about us not making fundamentally correct chest passes. And he was serious. We all just started laughing and he couldn’t understand why we were laughing. That’s just Tex."

6

With the loss, the Lakers are now 2 1/2 games behind San Antonio for the No. 1 seed with six games to play. If they somehow still grab the top spot and Denver is able to get out of the first round as a five seed, they would play Los Angeles in the conference semifinals. I explored that possibility for the Daily Dime (item No. 1).

7

Matt Barnes wasn't much of a factor in his first game back from suspension for "escalating" things in the fracas against Dallas. He finished with a respectable line of five points on 2-for-3 shooting, two rebounds, two assists and a block in 18 minutes of playing time. More impressive than his game was learning that he personally designed the two Lakers-related T-shirts recently released by his Elusion clothing line. One features the right half of his face beside the left half of Ron Artest's face, reminiscent of the NBA's old "There Can Only Be One" advertising campaign. The message on the T-Shirt? "Matt Barnes will kill you if Ron Artest doesn't first."

8

What's left of the regular season schedule for L.A.? Ten more days, six more games. Home against Utah on Tuesday, then the second night of a back-to-back in Golden State on Wednesday, followed by at Portland on Friday then home to Oklahoma City on Sunday and finally a home-road back-to-back with San Antonio and Sacramento to finish up.

9

Quote of the night: "I should have stuck to the plan and gotten my hair cut. That’s what I wanted to do yesterday but I was too lazy to go to the barbershop. I said, ‘I’ll wait until [Sunday].’ Then it’s a 12:30 game ... That’s what it was." -- Artest's reasoning behind L.A.'s loss.

10

Stats of the night: The Lakers were denied a double-digit winning streak this year as their season-best nine-game streak was snapped ... After holding Denver to 40 points on 29.5 percent shooting in the first half, the Nuggets went off for 55 points on 60.5 percent shooting in the second half.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0