Suddenly, Nuggets are thinking big


— George Karl’s outfit Saturday was only the second most unexpected sight in the Pepsi Center in a 24-hour span.

Headed to a Kentucky Derby party, the Denver Nuggets’ coach wore white pants and white shoes paired with an orange-and-white striped shirt and a Carolina blue tie. And then there was the piece de resistance, a peach jacket with orange and blue pocket squares.

“Someone bet me $1,000 I wouldn’t wear it,” Karl said, smiling.

Karl’s fashion statement still took a backseat to the look-at-me declarations Denver big men JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried had made Friday during the Nuggets’ 99-84 victory over the Lakers in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series.

The duo combined for 28 points and a whopping 30 rebounds, the latter figure easily surpassing the 19 rebounds that Lakers counterparts Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol collected.

“After the first two games, I felt our big guys were doing their jobs,” Karl said. “Now, did I expect them to outplay All-Stars? No, I don’t expect that. But it was a nice wild card to get.”

Faried is a rookie forward and McGee is a reserve center and part-time goofball perhaps best known for the moment earlier this season when he ran back across the half-court line to play defense when his Washington Wizards teammates still had the ball.

McGee was certainly headed in the right direction throughout a 16-point, 15-rebound performance against the Lakers. He made eight of 12 shots, continually maneuvering around Bynum and Gasol.

“It’s the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” Karl said of McGee, who was acquired from the Wizards in March. “When the trade was going on, we watched a couple of films. We never saw that game.”

Faried said McGee was inspired by the presence of his mother, Pamela, the former USC basketball standout, who was courtside. JaVale had combined for only seven points on two-for-12 shooting in the first two games of the series, both Nuggets losses.

“If she needs to come to every game,” Faried said of Pamela, “we just need to make it happen.”

Faried finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds, helping the Nuggets hold a 52-32 advantage over the Lakers in points in the paint and a 54-44 edge in rebounding. Generously listed at 6 feet 8, Faried has a simple formula for taking on the Lakers’ pair of 7-footers.

“Outrun them and try to outwork them,” he said.

The Nuggets will also out-mask the Lakers in Game 4 here Sunday. Forward Al Harrington is expected to play with a protective mask after taking a Bynum elbow to the face that broke his nose in the third quarter Friday.

Karl said he expected the Lakers to counteract the Nuggets’ young interior players by repeatedly pounding the ball inside to their veteran duo.

“I think they’re going to go there a lot,” Karl said. “But if they overpower and maybe we can make them miss, we can run the other way. Sometimes you overextend and we’re just going to have to react to them — what successes they have and what plays they’re running.”

Karl was in a jovial mood, even letting TNT reporter Craig Sager, the king of garish ensembles, show the coach how to fold his pocket squares and insert them into his jacket.

A reporter asked Karl if he would wear the outfit again Sunday, but the coach said he was afraid it might cause a distraction and annoy a certain Laker.

“Yeah, that’s the problem,” Karl said. “It might [tick] Kobe [Bryant] off.”