Denver Nuggets’ Confidence Is Usurped By The LA Lakers’ Defense

It's one thing to be confident as a team in your abilities, but if Sunday night showed the Denver Nuggets anything, it's that confidence needs to result in baskets, not empty smiles or gestures.

Denver failed to make it three in a row over the Los Angeles Lakers in a physical, hard fought contest the Lakers won due to their dedicated effort on the defensive end, especially in the fourth quarter.

The first two meetings between the teams were defined by the Lakers' inability to slow the Nuggets down, but this game resembled more of what could be expected should the teams meet in the postseason.

In the playoffs, possessions become critical so the game slows down. So in order for each team to maximize possessions, a premium is placed on quality defense and strong post play.

Los Angeles was dominant in both categories when the game mattered the most as Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom combined for 35 points and 26 rebounds in a game where they controlled the paint.

Ron Artest forced Carmelo Anthony into a bad shooting night, and his tight defense caused Anthony to foul out late in the game when the outcome was yet to be determined.

On a night Kobe Bryant shot 3-17, the Lakers were able to turn to his talented supporting cast, and eke out a win which was needed for a team which had shown little resistance to the Nuggets in previous meetings.

Bryant did have 13 assists, with many of them coming in the fourth quarter, which may be a sign that Bryant understands the importance of placing faith in the abilities of his teammates.

Denver may have been done in by their over-confidence, or the fact their previous two wins over the Lakers had come with such ease, they saw little reason to be concerned.

The various smiles of the Nuggets under-scored the playoff like atmosphere of the game, and it would serve Denver well to remember the regular season is a poor indication of how a tea...

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