Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Doug Pensinger, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

January 5, 2014 — 6:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (14-19) face the Denver Nuggets (15-17) tonight to cap off a 4-game home series before the Lakers head off on a 3-game road trip. Both teams won their last game after suffering long losing streaks. The Lakers look to build off their win after snapping a 6-game losing streak

Lakers PG Kendall Marshall had a career night last game, scoring 20 pts. and dishing out 15 assists, both a career high in a much needed 110-99 victory over Utah Jazz. Marshall seemed completely comfortable for the first time wearing a Laker uniform since he realized he is now the only ball-handler on the team. For one game, he perfectly fit the prototypical Mike D’Antoni style point guard, always keeping his head up when pushing the ball and helping his teammates get wide-open shots. Marshall also made 2 big plays as he got Jodie Meeks a wide open three by making a cross-court pass and hitting his own three pointer to close out the game vs. Jazz.

Center Pau Gasol, who has once again found himself in the middle of trade rumors, had his best game this season, scoring 23 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, and dishing 8 assists. Outside of driving aggressively to the basket, many of Gasol’s jump shots were in the right mid-range area after running the pick and pop action with Marshall, where he is currently shooting 51.4% this season.

The Denver Nuggets, who snapped their 8-game losing streak during their last game, look to build off their win also as they come into Staples Center. Former Lakers guard and assistant coach Brian Shaw now coaches the Nuggets after replacing former head coach George Karl. as with previous teams, this version of the Nuggets depend on a balanced attack, led by PG Ty Lawson. Lawson, who averages 17.4 PPG, 8.1 APG, and 1.4 SPG, has caused the Lakers major problems throughout his career, quickly pushing the ball down the floor for easy fast break points and driving aggressively off on-ball screens. The Nuggets have suffered from major off-season losses, losing F Andre Iguodala, G Corey Brewer to free agency and F Danilo Gallinari to a torn ACL last season.

Projected Starters

PG - Ty Lawson / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Nuggets]

SG - Randy Foye Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Nuggets]

SF - Wilson Chandler Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Lakers]

PF - Kenneth Faried Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

C - JJ Hickson Robert Sacre [Advantage: Nuggets]

Notable Bench Players

Nuggets: G Nate Robinson, F Jordan Hamilton, F Darrell Arthur, C Timofey Mozgov

Lakers:  F Nick Young, F Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, F Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Nuggets

Injury List

Nuggets: Out-F Danilo Gallinari, Out-C Javale McGee, Out-G Andre Miller

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar

Keys for Lakers Victory

1. Stop Fast-Break Baskets: Although the Nuggets are 15th this season in fast break points after ranking 1st in that category for the last 2 seasons, they are still capable of pushing the ball down the floor. The Lakers have to start the game very aggressively and not be lethargic and lazy sprinting back on defense. Since the Lakers shoot a lot of jump-shots, they should always have at least 2 players back on defense as soon as the Lakers shot goes up to prevent any easy fast-break points.

2. Play Relaxed and Shoot Well: The Lakers seemed to be playing much more relaxed last game, and it showed in their shooting percentage. The Lakers shooters, notably G Jodie Meeks, F Shawne Williams, did not hesitate to shoot the ball last night, resulting in shooting 41.7 % from behind the 3 point line. Marshall and Gasol, who combined for 23 assists vs. Jazz, should once again handle the ball the majority of the time and give teammates more open shots tonight.

Bottom Line

With all the trade rumors clouding the future of the Lakers, they look to ignore that and stay focused for another crucial game tonight. Hopefully the Lakers can start the game very strong and stay focused without letting the Nuggets go on a lot of runs. After a very encouraging win on Friday, expect the Lakers to come away with a close victory tonight vs. Nuggets.

Prediction

Lakers: 105-103

  • Jimmy Bobbins

    It’s no secret the Lakers are struggling, how should they proceed and what’s the key to turning around the #season http://goo.gl/nnckZ5