LA Lakers: Will Road Test in Denver Reveal Their True Character?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer INovember 11, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the game with the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on November 9, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 99-94.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Unless you glanced at the scoreboard it would be easy to assume the Los Angeles Lakers had just lost their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves judging by the body language.

The mood in the Lakers' locker room was somber and introspective as the Lakers tried to explain all that went wrong during the game.

Lamar Odom said he was ashamed of the team's performance, while Ron Artest rebuked himself for his part in Kevin Love's offensive explosion.

Point guard Derek Fisher went further to say the Lakers' performance was disrespectful to fans, and it didn't matter whether or not the Lakers won or lost, because their was nothing positive to be found in the win.

I'm not sure if I completely agree with Fisher's comments, but you have to appreciate the sincerity of his words, and the difference in approach that the Lakers' statements illustrate.

Last season an early loss would be treated insignificantly by the formerly non-chalant Lakers, but this season Los Angeles is playing with an intensity and sense of urgency that is usually reserved for the spring.

Fisher, Odom, and Artest's comments signal a shift in attitude and focus for the Lakers, and they will get to prove it tonight in Denver where, the Nuggets should provide the Lakers with their toughest challenge to date.

Last season the Lakers entered Colorado in the second game of a back to back, and the Nuggets promptly handed them a 20-plus point defeat that was not even as close as the final score indicated.

That loss brought the Lakers back down to earth, but there are several big differences between that pivotal game and this one.

Forward Pau Gasol was not fully healthy when the Lakers lost to Denver early last season, and Ron Artest was still adjusting to his role on the team.

Lamar Odom was battling another case of inconsistency and the Lakers didn't have newcomers Steve Blake and Matt Barnes on the roster.

They also had none of the confidence and assurance they have been playing with lately.

For the most part Los Angeles has approached each game expecting to win, but unlike seasons past, the Lakers have actually made their performances on the court consistently match their expectations.

Minus the Minnesota game there has been little of the complacency that has become associated with the Lakers early in the season.

The combined response of various Lakers after that game show they are not willing to accept subpar performances, and they expect each player on the team to perform to the potential of their abilities in every game.

Tonight we should get to see if the Lakers will be able to back up their words with their performances.

Denver represents a perfect "trap game" for the Lakers, especially after the Nuggets were embarrassed in a 30 point loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

The Nuggets allowed the Pacers to shoot 20-21 in a 54-point third quarter, but something tells me their defense will be a little better Thursday night.

Denver will certainly be energized by the arrival of the two-time defending champs, and the mood in the Pepsi center should be electric.

But, can the Lakers rise up in the face of their first real road challenge, and prove they really are as good and focused as their 8-0 record suggests? Tonight we find out.