The Lakers are in Denver to face the Nuggets. A win tonight and the Lakers can close out February an impressive 12-1.
The Lakers, lead by Kobe Bryant, jumped on the Suns early and did not take their foot off of the accelerator until they had administered a 26-point beat down in a 132-106 win.
The Lakers tied their season high in scoring 132 points and made a season-best 54 field goals topping the 48 made against Minnesota on 1/30.
Kobe later stated that he saw Thursday’s match up as a trap game and made sure from the start that the team wouldn’t see an injury-riddled team relax and take the night off.
The Lakers scored 70 points in the first half, shot 57 percent from the field, made 9 of 20 three point shots and had six players score in double digits. The team was able to rest the starters, there was D.J. Mbenga sighting and everyone contributed to the embarrassment of the Suns.
The Nuggets hold the third-best record in the western conference but have won only 2 of their last five games and have lost three in a row and were a missed shot at the buzzer away from losing four in a row.
The Lakers beat the Nuggets 104-97 on 11/1/08 and 104-90 on 11/21/08. The Lakers, including the sweep in the 2007-2008 playoffs, have won their last six games against the Nuggets and have beat them in their last three trips to the Pepsi Center.
Since the trade Denver has been a better team under Billups veteran leadership. The Lakers can’t sleep on the Nuggets. Defensively is where this game will be won or lost.
Billups is highly skilled at running the pick-and-roll play and he will test the Lakers defense. The team needs to be on the same page defensively, fighting through the screens and not allowing an open jumper or layup.
Kobe has provided the Lakers with veteran leadership and the league MVP has become a better leader. The Lakers are a more focused, mature team that will have to control the tempo, the glass, get back in transition and rotate out to three point shooters. The Lakers will need to slow Billups & Carmelo Anthony and limit J.R. Smith’s impact.
The Lakers are playing to their advantage establishing Pau Gasol in the low post, attacking inside and letting him set the table for everyone else and passing the ball out to open shooters. The Lakers big three Kobe, Pau & Odom will be huge and the bench will be a factor. For some reason, I feel that tonight will be a huge night for Lamar Odom.
Tipoff: 6:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL Channel 9 HD (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Denver: Altitude HD (Chris Marlowe & Scott Hastings)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Denver: KCKK AM1510 (Jerry Schemmel)
- Andrew Bynum (Knee)
- Nene (Knee)