Kobe Bryant and the aging LA Lakers are probably well aware that Denver is where anything from stretches of solid play to winning streaks come to an end. Got a back-to-back with the tail-end in Denver? Chalk up an L. Traveling over multiple time zones to get to the altitude? Give up.
The young Clippers found this out in January. They strolled through December without a loss — including a 12-point win over the Nuggets — but went to Denver on Jan 1. and took a 92-78 beatdown. They head back to Denver on March 7 after playing Milwaukee on March 6. Might as well just skip it.
But the latest victim to the Mile High misery is the crosstown Lakers. Coming into the game, LA won 11 of 15, including their last three in a row, and played well enough for Kobe to guarantee a playoff spot. Not in Denver. They fell 119-108, largely due to a disparity in fast-break points. Ty Lawson sums it up nicely, and you can practically hear him laughing, as he describes another team getting tripped up.
"First, we know that they played last night," Lawson said. "Coming into the altitude, also they're a little slow getting back. So, once they miss a shot, it seemed like a jailbreak. Everybody was trying to run downcourt and get the layup."
And that's putting it nicely, because the Nuggets punked Dwight Howard throughout the game en route to victory.
Yikes. But Laker fans shouldn't be too worried about this one. Dwight still put up 15 points and grabbed 14 boards, and it wasn't the All-Star game so you can't expect him to play his best. LA will get back home and reassess. Though Kobe won't like it, this L was always coming, and LA should be able to shake it off and take a shot at .500 another day.