Trans. Nov 24 9:10 ET (Nov 24 9:10 ET ) Danilo Gallinari might not have been the most explosive leaper the NBA's ever seen, but during his first few years in the league, he could get up a little bit. “I used to go to the paint and have a couple of dunks,” the Denver Nuggets forward recently told Harvey Araton of the New York Times . “I’m not doing that right now.” [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] A lack of vertical expression's to be expected when you miss more than a year after an ACL tear and the risky decision to wait to repair it. It can leave you at a disadvantage not only on the offensive end, where Gallo has struggled to both get to the basket and rediscover the rhythm on his formerly feathery jumper, but also on defense, where the Italian forward isn't all that imposing a deterrent at the basket despite his 6-foot-10 frame. Or, at least, Los Angeles Lakers swingman Wesley Johnson didn't seem all that deterred on Sunday night: Gallinari was in an unenviable position from the jump, of course — four Nuggets were below the foul line when Ty Lawson turned the ball over in the paint, giving the Lakers a golden opportunity for an odd-man rush if they hustled. Point guard Jeremy Lin pushed the ball, and with Johnson on the left wing and Nick Young on the right, Gallinari quickly found himself in no man's land near his own basket, and he was cooked basically as soon as Lin made the pass. On one hand, it's to Gallinari's credit that he tried to protect the rim; on the other, though, that's a bad foul to take in a tie game with just over three minutes remaining and, as ProBasketballTalk's Brett Pollakoff notes , a potentially dangerous one, too. Johnson's fast-break posterization wasn't his only impressive athletic showing in Sunday's game. Earlier in the contest, he put his springs and wingspan on display in pinning an Arron Afflalo drive to the glass: But, as has been the case with Johnson since the Minnesota Timberwolves plucked him out of Syracuse with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the flashes of enticing promise and quality contributions (he pulled down 12 rebounds, blocked three shots, snagged two steals and dished two assists in 41 1/2 minutes) always seem to come paired with an element of disappointment (he needed 10 shots to score seven points, continuing a season-long struggle that's seen him shoot just 39 percent from the field and 24.3 percent from 3-point land through 14 games). And, as has been the case all season long for these Lakers, every silver lining seems to bring with it a dark cloud. The Lakers showed demonstrable defensive improvement over Friday's blowout loss to the marauding Dallas Mavericks, holding a Nuggets team that entered Sunday's action ranked 14th among 30 NBA teams in points scored per possession to 37.8 percent shooting and a 10-for-37 mark from beyond the arc. (Brian Shaw's club also acted as its own worst enemy, missing 15 free throws on Sunday.) But L.A. couldn't make the most of its own opportunities late, missing 11 of its final 13 attempts after Johnson's dunk. A tightly contested potential game-winning 19-footer by Kobe Bryant came up short in the final second of the fourth quarter, sending the contest into overtime. So did a deep contested Kobe 3 that would have cut Denver's lead to one with 12 seconds left in the extra frame, allowing the Nuggets to hop, skip and jump their way home with a 101-94 win to improve to 6-7 on the season. Lawson (18 points, 16 assists) and center Timofey Mozgov (13 points, 13 rebounds) each posted double-doubles in the win, while Afflalo (15 points, six rebounds) and Wilson Chandler (a team-high 19 points, eight rebounds) each chipped in on the wing. And while he found himself on the business end of the evening's loudest highlight, Gallinari came up big when Shaw needed him most, drilling a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining in overtime that gave Denver a four-point lead from which it would never look back. He finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench in the Nuggets' fourth straight win. The Lakers, meanwhile, fell to 3-11, and just 1-6 inside the apparently not-so-friendly confines of Staples Center. Bryant, who maintains that he'd rather not shoot this much , finished with a game-high 27 points, but did so on 10-for-24 shooting, including a 5-for-15 mark after halftime. He took eight of the Lakers' 13 shots after Johnson's dunk, and missed seven of them. "I feel I kind of took myself out of my rhythm a little bit," Bryant said after the game . "In the third quarter, I might have been a little too passive, kind of let the game get away from me a little bit. I tried to gain it back a little bit. It's a tough balance." And yet another tough result for Byron Scott's club, which now boasts the second-worst mark in the Western Conference, ahead of only the Kevin Durant- and Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder, in a Lakers season that has been remarkable for just about all the wrong reasons . It seems noteworthy that during the third quarter in which Kobe feels he got a bit too passive and let the game get away from him, the Lakers scored 36 points on 12-for-18 shooting, with Lin taking over to the tune of 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting and a pair of assists. The point guard saw considerably less of the ball during the fourth quarter and overtime, which Laker great and Time Warner Cable SportsNet commentator James Worthy identified as one of the biggest reasons why the Lakers let the game slip away. Lin — who finished with 17 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals in 35 1/2 minutes — admitted frustration at L.A.'s inability to close out games. "It just sucks," Jeremy Lin said after the game . "It's frustrating that we can't pull out the wins and stuff. But, first game of a four-game homestand, you know, so we've just got to turn the page and get ready for the next one." More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
The Scoop:He is getting closer to a return and has gone through some shooting drill. Durant is still a couple weeks off his original prognosis, but it's great to see he hasn't fallen behind. If you drafted him in the first round, this is all you can ask for from the best player in fantasy hoops for each of the last five seasons.
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : The Pattern of Basketball . Jonathan Tjarks on how the Utah Jazz have played the long game in rebuilding, and now have a roster full of long-limbed, athletic, intriguing and young two-way prospects to show for it. PF : Isiah Was a Prophet . Chris Gaerig offers a defense of the much-maligned Josh Smith, who has changed "his shot distribution for the better," but whose continued struggles for the Detroit Pistons might have quite a bit to do with new head coach and personnel boss Stan Van Gundy "banging his head against a the same wall that Mo Cheeks and John Loyer did" with his frontcourt rotation. SF : 48 Minutes of Hell . With speculation swirling that the San Antonio Spurs might have their eyes on Marc Gasol as a potential post-Tim Duncan plan in the middle this coming offseason, Matthew Tynan takes a look at the Spurs' books and calls the feasibility of such a plan into question: "Here’s the deal: If the Spurs want to clear max space in order to entice a major free agent, theoretically, they won’t have much wiggle room if they choose to re-sign both [Danny] Green and [Kawhi] Leonard." SG : NBA.com . Late to this, but a pretty fascinating read from Steve Aschburner on longtime official/new NBA vice president of referee operations Bob Delaney, his work on post-traumatic stress disorder, and the league's emphasis on helping refs deal with the "operational stress" that comes with the staggering level of negativity directed at them on a daily basis. PG : Nylon Calculus . Krishna Narsu digs into SportVU's optical tracking statistics on shot defense, shot location, and shot timing to try to figure out if, and just how much, defense tightens up during crunch-time situations. 6th : Beyond the Arc . Kevin Lipe revisits the Memphis Grizzlies' impressive Monday blowout of the Houston Rockets, "a glimpse at what the Grizzlies would look like if they had consistent floor spacing, and room to operate on offense." That glimpse ought to terrify the rest of the Western Conference. 7th : The Triangle . Zach Lowe's piece on the way we perceive Chris Paul's postseason "struggles" gets at some of the nagging issues with sports coverage in general, and the way we write about individual athletes who haven't won championships in particular. 8th : Bleacher Report . With the Los Angeles Clippers scuffling to a 5-4 start and looking awful thin beyond their top six players, Fred Katz wonders whether Doc Rivers the Executive's inability to see how one front-office decision would impact others down the line has hamstrung Doc Rivers the Coach when it comes to juggling his rotation. 9th : VICE Sports . Steve Nash and Kevin Durant talk about what they think it takes to be great, and about how the feeling of being an underdog never really leaves you. An interesting chat. 10th : The Classical . "Coach" Corbin Smith introduces us to the Pentagon Offense, a tried and not-entirely-true offensive scheme that only unimaginative and intolerant plebes would ever describe as “too predictable.” - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.