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News » Lakers' big man held in check

Lakers' big man held in check

Lakers' big man held in check There is no question that much of the Nuggets' success this season hinges on their ability to handle the NBA's best big men.

Friday, they faced an enormous challenge in Andrew Bynum, the Los Angeles Lakers' 7-foot center. And though Bynum, who finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, was hard to handle, the Nuggets held their own against him. He was never a difference-maker.

The strategy defensively against Bynum was to throw as many big bodies around him as possible. The Nuggets started out with Nene guarding him and moved to Chris Andersen, who made an appearance with four minutes left in the first quarter.

"The kid can play," Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin said of Bynum. "He proved that to us in the preseason. We played against him last year. ? You can't let him play one-on-one at all. You've got to put bodies around him."

Bynum got off to a good start - eight points and six rebounds in the first quarter - but the Nuggets were able to slow him down from there.

Offensively, the Nuggets drove the ball right at Bynum. Nene, quicker on his feet, took advantage and scored in a variety of ways and had 11 points by halftime. He finished with 13 points and six rebounds.

The Nuggets doubled Bynum with Martin in the second half, and the strategy paid off quickly. In consecutive series early in the third period, the double teams rattled Bynum, who turned it over twice, leading to Nuggets fast-break baskets.

"I thought when Kenyon went on to Bynum and started fronting him, it gave us a rhythm to our defense that we didn't have early in the game," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

And the Nuggets scrapped. They had to. Their only 7-footer, Johan Petro, isn't in the regular rotation, so the team has to get creative and outwork its taller - and sometimes bigger - opposition.

That happened more often than not. Denver sent multiple players to the glass to combat the Lakers' size and finished with a slight rebounding edge, 48-47.

The Nuggets finished with 42 points in the paint and 11 second-chance points. The Lakers had 28 points in the paint and 13 second-chance points.

In all, it was a nice effort by the Nuggets , who will be challenged in the area all season and have already had a few issues guarding bigger players. Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut lit up the Nuggets for 23 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday. Memphis' Marc Gasol had 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists on Nov. 1.

The Nuggets were able to concentrate their resources on Bynum, but the next time they meet the Lakers they may not be so fortunate. Pau Gasol - arguably the Lakers' second-best player - did not play because of a hamstring injury.

It wasn't about who wasn't on the court. It was about the Nuggets finding a way to overcome one of their shortcomings.

Chris Dempsey: 303-954-1279 or

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 16, 2009


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