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Preseason Game 4: Nuggets at Lakers - 8:30pm MDT

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Get your televisions ready, this one will be on the talking box ... if you have NBA TV. My L.A. friends have already been chattering about this one and it's just a preseason game. The Lakers are re-loaded, so it's time to get re-acquainted with the enemy.

The Lakers are still the Lakers. The key players are returning and ready to go ... although Kobe Bryant's knee has been giving him trouble. The 32 year-old Bryant is known for his grueling workouts and for improving his game every offseason. How much longer can Kobe be Kobe? I think we'll be asking that question for years to come.

So while Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, and Andrew Bynum remain the main players for the Lakers, the biggest change is the overhaul of their bench.

Here is how C.A. Clark of Silver Screen and Roll breaks down the changes on the pine for Los Angeles:

Kupchak completely changed the back end of the team, allowing Jordan Farmar to leave via free agency, and politely telling Adam Morrison, Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga to seek other employment.

In their place come Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff, and two rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter. Looked at on a like for like basis, it seems like an improvement at every turn. Blake fits the Lakers need for a "point guard" much better than Farmar did, Barnes as depth at small forward (in case Luke Walton's back injuries continue to hamper his career) over Adam Morrison is a no contest, and Ratliff provides experience off the bench that neither DJ Mbenga nor Josh Powell could muster. And the rookie haul is especially impressive when you consider that the Lakers seem to have found two keepers when they had only a mid and late 2nd round pick. On top of all that, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown were re-signed for continuity, so the Lakers now have a roster that is theoretically much deeper (and more mature) than last year's version.

For the entire Lakers preview click here.

With the rumors of Denver's interest in Derrick Caracter on draft night, I'm very interested to see how the youngster looks. And I don't know why, but I always enjoyed Matt Barnes' game ... just a scrapper and when he was with Golden State ... an accurate long bomber. Too bad Barnes joined up in L.A. ... he's now sleeping with the enemy. Also, former Nugget Steve Blake will get to show off his corner three-point shooting and his trade mark bounce passes.

This may only be a preseason game, but every time I see the purple and gold ... my blood starts boiling a bit.

Hopefully Denver can improve on their 2-1 record tonight.

ntimmons73@yahoo.com
Twitter: Nate_Timmons