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Preview: Nuggets head into Los Angeles looking to break a losing streak against the Lakers

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Both teams have had bad weeks, but only one of them can recover tonight

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets look to break a three-game losing skid when the travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Wednesday night. It’s a national broadcast of two teams that have had better weeks. The Nuggets lost a tough game to the Utah Jazz where they won three quarters but lost the war, followed it up with a terrible performance against the New Orleans Pelicans in which Jokic missed half the game due to foul trouble, and then were out-executed by the San Antonio Spurs despite a furious comeback that fell just one point short. They are tired, and angry, and looking to put a stop to this nonsense.

Enter: the Los Angeles Lakers. They have lost 9 of their last 12 and sit a handful of games outside the playoffs, with LeBron James rightfully the focus of LA’s consternation. LeBron has a good argument for being the greatest of all time, but right now he’s the scapegoat after the disastrous trade discussions with New Orleans alienated many of the young players LeBron now needs to get to the playoffs. With a realistic chance at the postseason slipping through his grasp the Lakers will be desperate tonight - and the Nuggets will need to match that desperation with energy and execution of their own.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (42-21) at Los Angeles Lakers (30-34)

When: 8:30 PM MST

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles CA

How to watch/listen: ESPN

Rival blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Injury Report

Trey Lyles - out (hamstring), Lonzo Ball - out (ankle), Kyle Kuzma - out (ankle), Brandon Ingram - questionable (shoulder). Lance Stephenson - questionable (toe), Tyson Chandler - questionable (neck)

Three Things to Watch

  • History. LeBron James is 13 points shy of passing Michael Jordan for fourth on the All-Time scoring list. Barring some unforeseen complications, he’ll get it. I don’t care where you fall on the GOAT conversation, it’s an impressive milestone. I just hope he gets it in a loss for Los Angeles.
  • The Nuggets need to get their rhythm back. The nominal starters have been good together recently - very good, except for one stretch against the Spurs. Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic is a unit that can do real damage to any team in this league. Denver’s bench - the unit that has carried them through so many injuries this season - is having a real struggle right now, however. Isaiah Thomas as the lead ball-handler off the bench is not going well. He’s getting up shots but not running an offense or creating for others, and Monte Morris especially looks out of sorts.

Malik Beasley had another good shooting night in San Antonio, but with Mason Plumlee losing his usual pick-and-roll mate in Morris and both Trey Lyles and Juancho Hernangomez on the Missing Persons list, Denver’s bench production has slipped and it’s causing opponent runs at exactly the wrong times in games. Jamal Murray’s turnovers with the starters were back-breaking against the Spurs as well. Timing is everything in basketball, and right now Denver’s timing is just off. Guys are not in the right spots and not doing the right things. Denver has to sort that out tonight against the Lakers.

  • It’s a Watch Party. Not the Night Watch, but it might be a funeral watch for the Lakers’ playoff hopes. Denver has to take care of business for that to happen. But come on by Stoney’s in Uptown at 7:30 for the party, which starts an hour before tipoff. If you’re lucky, you’ll have both a good time and a Nuggets victory to celebrate.