Stopping Lakers' stars key to Nuggets' transition

Associated Press Modified: May 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm •  Published: May 2, 2012
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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets figure the way to quit getting beaten inside and out by the Los Angeles Lakers is to get them running up and down the court.

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum combined for 65 points in Los Angeles' 104-100 victory Tuesday night that gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that shifts to the Pepsi Center on Friday night.

After falling behind early, the younger, quicker Nuggets picked up the pace and made a game of it. Now, they'll try to duplicate their up-tempo style to make this a competitive series.

Denver's transition game is fueled by Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer, but the Nuggets have to tighten things up on defense, force Bryant to take tougher shots and clear out Bynum underneath.

"Pace is huge, but we have to get stops," Lawson said. "You can't run after their make a dunk or a 3. It's easier to run when you get a rebound. The main thing is we have to get stops."

Both players took solace in their second-half surge in Game 2 that cooled off Bryant and Bynum if just for a bit.

"We have to do that from the beginning of the game," Brewer said. "We have to run it."

Too often so far, Bynum has cleaned up the glass on for put-back dunks off misses by Bryant or Paul Gasol, and that's thwarted the Nuggets' superior speed.

"We've been doubling him the whole time. But offensive put-backs is the main way he scores," Lawson said.

Bryant was scoring from all over. He made 15 baskets in 29 attempts and finished with 38 points in Game 2.

"When he's making shots like that when you are in his face, it's tough for us to guard that," Lawson said. "You have to put a hand in his face and hope he misses."

And then pray that Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee or Kosta Koufos outmuscles Bynum for the board.

"He's playing with tremendous energy," Nuggets coach George Karl said about Bynum. "He's the biggest body in the NBA, the most difficult body to keep away from the rim and everybody has problems with him. We double-teamed him pretty well in the first game. The last game they did a better job of keeping our double team man occupied a little bit."

The Lakers enjoy a huge edge in experience in this series, and it's shown.

"They are a vet team. We have three guys from last year's team," Lawson noted. "We are still a fairly new team."