Feb 25, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Andre Iguodala (9) drives to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers Earl Clark (6) during the first half at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
DENVER- What the Nuggets do best is what the Lakers do the worst. They run.
Denver outscored Los Angeles 33-3 in fast break points Monday night. A missed shot, turned defensive rebound into a smooth outlet pass and then in a blur they were on their way, right on past the flat-footed Lakers defense.
"They just took off," said Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni after the Nuggets 119-108 win.
Their advantage, the tempo, put Los Angeles literally on their heels all night. Pushing the pace is a George Karl and Denver specialty especially when their biggest player on the floor is small forward Kenneth Faried. They earned easy shots, including 78 points in the paint and 16 coming by way of the free throw line.
"That team is like a track team," said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant who scored 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting.
"Anytime we play the Lakers, it's going to be a speed versus size game," said Nuggets head coach George Karl. "They were trying to play fast but I don't think they play as fast as we want to play. I thought the guys had that extra engine."
Denver was aided by the fact that the Lakers were in action the night prior.
The bipartisan crowd, nearly split in allegiances but uniform in hues of blue and yellow, quickly turned in favor of the Nuggets. A special Jack Nicholson, South Park edition, video tribute riled up the fans before tipoff. Cartman, in his signature Nuggets jersey, threw his cartoon basketball and knocked the Lakers fan out off the jumbotron.
"We had the energy on our side," Karl said.
Denver led by six points after the opening quarter and then extended the margin to thirteen by halftime. The crowd, festering with the anticipation of the "huge" victory, as guard Ty Lawson called it, exploded late in the third quarter. After Andre Iguodala's monstrous dunk to put the Nuggets up by 18 the entirety of the crowd knew the game was all but over.
The Nuggets bolted from the beginning, a tip ball in the place of a starters gun, to the easy win over the Lakers.
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