The Lakers have had a tumultuous week. They recorded their first “win streak” of the year with two consecutive wins against the Hawks and Rockets. But then they got blown off the court in Dallas and managed to give up 140 points and lose by 34. The Lakers return home tonight after a three game road trip to face the Nuggets. The Nuggets are on a three game tear with wins over the Cavs, Thunder and Pelicans. Hopefully the Lakers can shore up their defense and put up a good fight against the Nuggets.
Frontcourt: Timofey Mozgov is the starting center for the Nuggets. He’s a legit seven footer who can rebound and defend. He leads the team with 1.4 blocks per game, but his offense is limited so the Lakers won’t have to worry about him scoring down low. Known as an energy player, Kenneth Faried has historically done well against the Lakers often lackadaisical defense and rebounding. Faried thrives on the offensive glass and has a penchant for putbacks. Hopefully Ed Davis can put a body on him and keep him off the glass.
Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari basically split time at the small forward position. Chandler has started the last few games and played very well. He’s dangerous from beyond the arc and leads the team with 1.8 threes per game. Chandler is a very athletic forward who can also rebound and defend well. Gallinari has struggled since returning to the NBA this season. He missed most of last year with an injury. Known for his shooting, Gallinari hasn’t found his stroke this year; his shooting percentage is an abysmal 30.9%.
Backcourt: Ty Lawson is a speedy point guard who loves to penetrate and dish. He’s having a career year this year with 16.2 points and 9.1 assists per game. Lawson is not a particularly great shooter, so if the Lakers can force him to shoot it would really diminish his effectiveness. Lin will need to keep Lawson in front of him and prevent him from getting into the paint.
Arron Afflalo will rejoined the Nuggets this year after a two year stint in Orlando. The former UCLA Bruin will enjoy a homecoming of sorts since he also grew up in Los Angeles. Afflalo is known for being a tough nosed defender, but he’s also developed his offense throughout his career. Afflalo has started to heat up from downtown in the past month, so Kobe will need to stick close to him.
Keys to Victory:
Defensive Effort: The Lakers pretty much laid down and let the Mavericks have their way with them on Friday night. They allowed the Mavs to score 140 points on 62.2% shooting. It was an absolutely flat defensive performance. It’s important to note that this isn’t the first time the Lakers have yielded an unseemly number of points to an opponent. Last Sunday they gave up 136 points to the Warriors. Clearly the Lakers have developed the habit of not showing up on defense some games. They need to show more consistent effort especially on defense if they hope to beat the Nuggets tonight.
Offensive Balance: The Lakers offense is still a work in progress. Nick Young has helped balance out the offense and take the scoring load off of Kobe. However, Kobe is still chucking the ball way too often through double and triple teams. It’s really ugly to watch when Kobe dribbles into a double team then launches it with four hands in his face. To his credit, Kobe has recorded 14 assists in the last two games, so he is looking to get his teammates involved. Jordan Hill has been a huge beneficiary of Kobe’s ability to draw double teams. Hopefully Kobe continues this trend of getting his teammates easy looks.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are two-point underdogs against the Nuggets according to Sportsbook.ag.
Denver Nuggets (5-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (3-10)
6:30 PM PST, November 23, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Nuggets Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Wilson Chandler
PF: Kenneth Faried
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: F: Danilo Gallinari PG: Randy Foye PG: Nate Robinson
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ed Davis
C: Jordan Hill
Lakers Jeremy Lin, ‘There’s So Many Things Wrong Right Now’