The (38-12) Los Angeles Lakers are at the Staples Center to host the (33-16) Denver Nuggets.
Tonight’s run will be the second of three this season, the Lakers lost emphatically against the Nuggets on November 13th 2009 in Denver 105-79.
Normally this is a match up of two of the leagues premier scorers, but with Kobe Bryant and Carmello Anthony nursing injuries, I highly doubt either player will be at or near 100% tonight. Anthony has missed six straight games and is hoping to end that streak tonight. Joey Graham’s streak as a starter might also come to a close.
Kobe is still banged up, but being a true warrior he is aiming to play. You have applaud the training staff for having him able to play as well as Kobe’s mental toughness to remain focused, which is nothing new for the Lakers All-Time leading scorer.
Denver is currently the second best team in the West Conference, four games behind the Purple and Gold. The Nuggets feel that it is their time to take over supremacy of the Western Conference; our Lakers needs to send them the message that ‘it’s not your time’. The Lakers also owe the Nuggets a beat down after their last meeting.
Chauncey Billups was carrying the offense scoring and distributing in Anthony’s absence, but he is also dealing with an ankle injury. Ty Lawson is a formidable player that’s not afraid to run the offense. Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar will have to play solid defense and force him to change directions and go east and west, as opposed to north and south to avoid his dribble penetration. Lakers have to be aware of as well as limit the impact of J.R. Smith off the bench.
The Lakers need to focus on playing team basketball, being patient, running their offense. They 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 concentrate on attacking the basket. It all starts with the ‘bigs’ getting a lot of touches.
The Nuggets threw double teams at Andrew Bynum early and often in the last meeting. This tactic will be used again, although the Lakers can offset several defensive tactics by using excellent player movement and excellent ball movement.
It was great to see the Lakers frontline being aggressive in the game against the Bobcats and the reserves producing 40 points. If the Lakers receive a contribution from everyone, outrebound this team, and use their size advantage to pound the Nuggets on the inside, the Purple and Gold should be able to dispatch this team with ease. They will have to get it done because there is a tough back to back tomorrow in Portland at the Rose Garden.
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
Denver: Altitude Sports & Entertainment (Chris Marlowe & Scott Hastings )
- 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)
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back)
- SF Carmello Anthony (Sprained Ankle) Out
- PG Chauncey Billups (Sprained Ankle)