The (44-15) Los Angeles Lakers are at the Staples Center to host the (39-19) Denver Nuggets.
Today’s run will be the third of the four games between the best teams in the Western Conference, and unfortunately, the Lakers have lost the two previous games by double digits.
The last time the Nuggets came to town the Staples Center faithful had to witness the Chauncey Billups show as he led Denver to a road win by putting on a shooting clinic from behind the arc.
This is a must-win game for the Lakers, but it begs the question can the Lakers bring the proper focus to beat the Nuggets? We’ve seen the Lakers either show a lack of focus or desire and lose games that they should win this season.
It appears that on more than one occasion they’ve been going through the motions and haven’t gotten up for their opponents. If that happens today, this contest will be over early. The Lakers need to play every game with energy and passion. It’s time for this team to play with passion on every possession.
This game will be decided by the Lakers frontline. The duo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 43 points in the paint and 24 boards against the Sixers; they will need a repeat performance.
The Nuggets frontline will be physical with the Lakers, how Gasol, Bynum, and Ron Artest respond will be the difference. Lakers need to establish both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the painted area and look to hurt the Nuggets in this area.
The Lakers frontline needs to play aggressive on both ends of the floor and focus on attacking the basket. They can’t afford to miss lay ups, shots close to the basket or settle for jump shots. It all starts with the ‘bigs’ getting a lot of touches. They have to approach today’s match up as a playoff game, but why stop there why not make it a statement. The Nuggets are playing good basketball, they’ve played their best against the best and are 7-1 against other division leaders.
The Purple and Gold have to lock into what the Nuggets are doing to slow them down. The Nuggets are averaging 115 points and shooting over 55% against the Lakers. The Lakers have to get back to the basics and control the tempo, stop the dribble penetration make it a point of emphasis to get a body on a body and out rebound this team.
The Nuggets have more than enough talent in the backcourt to provide the Lakers several problems, but Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar are all champions that have to play well and accept the challenge.
The Lakers have to extend their defense out to the three point line, that is where this team has lived against the Purple and Gold this season. It will be a tough task to slow down all of the Nuggets however; L.A. can’t allow all of the Nuggets to have a good game. It will take a total team effort to achieve a win.
This writer believes that the Lakers will show a great deal of focus, control, maturity and discipline in dispatching the Nuggets like a weekly chore.
Tip-off: 12:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ABC
- Denver: ABC
- Los Angeles: 710 AM ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Denver: KKFN AM 950 (Jerry Schemel & Mark Bertagnolli)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion fracture of right index finger, elbow & back)
- Andrew Bynum (Bruised Hip)
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back) Out
- Sasha Vujacic (Sprained Shoulder) Out
- PF Kenyon Martin (Bruised Knee)
- PG Ty Lawson (Sprained left Thumb)