Lakers vs. Nuggets preview: Nuggets seek elusive win streak against banged-up Lakers

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

The Denver Nuggets try to win consecutive games for the first time in over a month as the Los Angeles Lakers roll into Denver on the second night of a back-to-back.

Game 61: 2013-14 NBA Season
Los Angeles Lakers (2002 - Pres) @
21-41 (11-21 away)
Series 2-0 Nugs
26-34 (15-16 home)
March 7th 2014
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
7:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Kendall Marshall
PG Ty Lawson
Kent Bazemore
SG Randy Foye
Jodie Meeks
SF Wilson Chandler
Wesley Johnson
PF Kenneth Faried
Pau Gasol
C Timofey Mozgov
Notes
Silver Screen and Roll Blogs Denver Stiffs
Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Nash (leg), Nick Young (knee), and Jordan Hill (knee) are out.
Injuries Danilo Gallinari (knee), JaVale McGee (leg fracture), Nate Robinson (ACL sprain) are out.
Bryant and Nash have played in a combined 16 games this season.
Stat

In their previous game against the Dallas Mavericks, the Nuggets had a 41-point first quarter and an 11-point third quarter.

Well, that felt good didn't it? Despite a little bit of shakiness towards the end of the game, the Denver Nuggets basically handled the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night to get their first victory over someone other than the 12-win Milwaukee Bucks (!) since February 3rd.

Yes folks, February was that bad. It wasn't so much that the Nuggets were losing games; most of the time they weren't even competitive. It's difficult to remain invested in a game when the outcome is basically decided by the end of the first quarter.

However, the Nuggets have shown signs of life in March. They played tough in Portland and kept it close throughout, and roared back into the game against Minnesota with a 45-point fourth quarter. The renewed effort finally culminated in the win over Dallas.

While the defense still has work to do (and head coach Brian Shaw has intimated to both Chris Dempsey and our own Nate Timmons that changes are coming), it's been encouraging to see the offense getting into taco territory again. Of course, Ty Lawson's return obviously has helped in this regard the last two games. The good times should continue to roll against the Los Angeles Lakers and their porous defense. The Lakers are giving up 107 points per game, second-worst in the NBA to Philadelphia, who gives up an astonishing 111 per contest.

They're also coming into Denver on the second night of a back-to-back, having been trounced by the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night. And I mean trounced in the truest sense of the word, as they were absolutely destroyed by 48 points. It was the worst loss in franchise history. They are a bad team currently sporting the worst record in the Western Conference. Typically, a below-average team coming into altitude after a late game the night before should spell an easy victory for the Nuggets, but we have seen this season that their once-feared home-court advantage is not what it used to be. If the Lakers get hot from three-point range, they can keep it interesting.

This game represents the best chance the Nuggets have had in a while to start a mini-win streak. It also is a rare opportunity to complete a sweep of a Western Conference opponent. I expect them to come out aggressively like they did against Dallas and hopefully keep their foot on the pedal from there. Even though neither team has played particularly well this year and both squads are missing key players, it's always fun to beat the Lakers.

Game Predictions -

- Timofey Mozgov's ascension to the starting lineup hasn't gone quite as smoothly as expected. Against Dallas, the big man was 0-5 shooting, though he did manage to snag 10 boards. He'll have the breakout game we've been waiting for against the Lakers' depleted front-court.

- Lawson injured his heel in the second half of the last game. I think he plays through it and actually leads the team in scoring tonight. He's averaging 25.5 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds since returning from his rib injury.

- Wilson Chandler seems to play better when he doesn't have to shoulder the burden of carrying the team offensively. With Lawson back in the fold, it makes things easier for everyone, including Ill Will. He will go for 15+ points tonight on at least 50% shooting.

- Pau Gasol has been the best player for the Lakers this season, and he should have a strong game with a double-double. It may be the last time we see The Llama as a member of the Lakers in Denver. He will be an unrestricted free agent this season, and i can't imagine he stays in L.A. Gasol seems to butt heads with head coach Mike D'Antoni and his frustration with how the season has played out is evident.

- There was a time when this match-up had a lot of appeal to it, but with both teams scuffling at the moment, it's lost a bit of its luster. Still, due to the obnoxious amount of Lakers fans in Colorado, this will be one of the best-attended games of the season.

- I think the Nuggets put the tank plans on ice again for the night and cruise to victory in this one, 114-103.

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