LOS ANGELES (AP)—The layups and dunks just kept on coming for the Los Angeles Lakers in their playoff opener against Denver. Pau Gasol, the main offender, figures the Nuggets will do whatever they can to change that in Game 2.
Gasol had seven dunks and five layups, and his teammates added 16 more baskets from point-blank range in the Lakers’ 128-114 victory over the Nuggets on Sunday. Half of the remaining 18 Los Angeles field goals were 3-pointers.
Just to show how well the Lakers attacked Denver’s defense, they were credited with 33 assists on their 46 field goals.
“I guess they will try to allow us to shoot more from the outside, pack the lane a little more,” Gasol said after practice Tuesday. “I’m going to make reads, just like I always try to do, and take advantage of what they give us. They load up on Kobe (Bryant) a lot. That allowed us to find open guys on the weak side.”
Lakers guard Derek Fisher agreed, saying: “I think we’ll see more zone, which forces us at times to shoot more perimeter shots.”
Game 2 will be played Wednesday night before the best-of-seven series shifts to Denver for the third and fourth games. The Lakers have won eight straight at Staples Center and have a 16-2 record against the Nuggets there since the facility opened before the 1999-2000 season.
“Hopefully everyone comes out tomorrow night after a long day of work, a lot of traffic, and takes out their frustrations on the Nuggets,” Fisher said with a smile. “The energy the last couple of weeks has been great. It makes a difference.
“A lot of series in the past have swung on Game 2, won or lost. By taking it one game at a time, all our focus should be on tomorrow night.”
“It’s more of a matchup thing,” Nuggets coach George Karl said before his team left Denver for Los Angeles. “They are a very big starting lineup. I thought their postups and the way they played early gave them confidence. I think our matchup will change that and also we’ll put one of our better running teams on the court.”
Kleiza scored a career playoff-high 23 points in the opener, shooting 9-for-13, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
“He brings us another offensive weapon,” Nuggets center Marcus Camby said. “He can get out into the open court.”
Kleiza said he needs to contribute on defense against Gasol as well.
“I have to take his layups away,” Kleiza said. “It’s not going to be easy. But he never really did beat anybody 1-on-1. They did a great job of finding him under the basket. We tried to fix that yesterday and today. That’s what we are trying to do. It wasn’t like he was unstoppable. He just had a bunch of good looks.”
Asked about the Nuggets’ lineup change, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said: “We’d probably go back to the fullcourt pressure we like to use when there aren’t so many ball handlers on the floor.”
Karl also said he’s hoping 6-11 Nene, who missed the opener with a strained right groin, will return to action, adding more depth, size and defensive ability inside.
“They picked us apart,” Karl said. “We were a little bit I would say slow in our rotations, but they also made some great plays. There is no excuse for giving up over 120 points in a playoff game. We’ve had that tendency at times on the road to be a loose defensive team. It seems like it happened way too often.
“Sometimes it takes work to take confidence away on a home court. It takes serious work and preparation.”
Bryant said the Lakers will adjust to whatever the Nuggets do defensively.
“We try to prepare ourselves for every scenario,” Bryant said. “We feel very comfortable in our system.”
Even with the Lakers’ solid victory in Game 1, Fisher said he believes the Nuggets will have a positive attitude entering Game 2.
“Their confidence never wavers, I don’t think,” Fisher said. “If they make a few more free throws, the game’s a little bit closer.”
The Nuggets went 23-of-37 from the foul line while the Lakers were 20-of-27.
Jackson said the pressure is on his team.
“We have the pressure to win on our home court,” he said. “It’s very hard for a team to come back with the same intensity in Game 2. We talked about that yesterday and today.”