The Denver Nuggets host the Los Angeles Lakers in a needed game for both teams. The Nuggets righted the ship on a back-to-back this week but must solidify that streak with a home win, while the Lakers let a game against the Orlando Magic slip away and need a good rebound game. Both teams should be competing for the playoffs, and Denver could use a lockdown win against a playoff-caliber team, especially with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Toronto Raptors also on the docket right after this game. The Lakers out-did the Nuggets down the stretch in their first regular season matchup - Denver has a chance now to return the favor and turn their three-game winning streak into four.
Who: Denver Nuggets (13-7) vs Los Angeles Lakers (11-8)
When: 7:00 PM MT
Where: The Can, Pepsi CO
How to watch: Altitude TV, NBA League Pass
Rival Blog: Silver Screen and Roll
Gary Harris - questionable (ankle), Will Barton - out (core/hip), Isaiah Thomas - out (hip), Michael Porter Jr. - out (back), Jarred Vanderbilt - out (foot), Josh Harris - questionable (ankle), Rajon Rondo - out (hand)
Three Things to Watch
Familiarity breeds contempt. Including the preseason this will be Denver’s fourth meeting with the Lakers in two months. The teams should know each other, even with the guard injuries both teams are working through. LeBron James has been a do-everything player for the Lakers box score - as he has been for all his teams. Nikola Jokic has been struggling with his late-game offense but is still the engine that drives everything for Denver’s offense. There shouldn’t be a lot of surprises in this one - it will all come down to execution.
Can Denver’s bench keep punching above its weight? Mason Plumlee and Trey Lyles together are scoring 12 points per 100 possessions more than their opponents when on the floor together. Monte Morris boasts one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the league. Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley can shoot the lights out on any given night. Denver’s bench could net them a big advantage in this game, if they can keep the pressure on Los Angeles. If not, Denver’s starters might be in for a struggle to create separation before the final stretch.
Denver’s defense needs to keep its streak up. The Lakers will be missing some offensive creators with Rondo and potentially Hart out. The Nuggets are on a three game average of holding opponents well under 100 points. If the Nuggets can force LeBron into being the only available creator for Los Angeles and hound the supporting cast into poor shooting nights, The Nuggets can return the favor that the Lakers gave them in L.A. - a loss.
Prediction: Denver should know how to play their game against Los Angeles by now, especially at altitude and without the L.A. nightlife to contend with. They get it done. 114-104.