Lakers Vs. Nuggets Preview: LeBron James Out Against Western Conference’s No. 1 Seed
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers look to extend their season-high win streak to six games on Monday night when they continue their short road trip against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena.

Unfortunately, as has been the case a lot lately, the Lakers are severely shorthanded in this one. Anthony Davis remains out, of course, and the same can be said for Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves as they all continue to rehab their respective injuries.

The Lakers are also without Troy Brown Jr. who is believed to be close to returning from a quad strain. But the biggest loss of all is LeBron James, who was downgraded to questionable with ankle soreness on Monday morning and then eventually ruled out.

James has been on a roll as of late, averaging 33.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists while shooting 57.1% from the field in his last 13 games. So the Lakers have a lot of production to replace in his absence, although others such as Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schroder have been stepping up recently.

The last game James missed was against the Miami Heat due to illness, and it was Bryant and Schroder that led the team to victory that night despite his absence.

Bryant has thrived since Davis went down, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting 68.1% from the field and 55% from 3-point range over his last 13 games.

Schroder’s last 13 games have been very strong as well, putting up 16.9 points and 3.8 assists while shooting an insane 48.3% from deep on 4.6 attempts. It will be up to him and Russell Westbrook to carry the ball-handling load in James’ absence.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, the Nuggets are close to full strength health-wise and are playing at home with three days or rest. As the Western Conference’s best team at 26-13, this is a game they should win easily against the shorthanded Lakers.

Nikola Jokic is having another MVP-caliber season, averaging 25.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 9.5 assists while shooting a career-high 61.3% from the field.

Denver’s role players have also stepped up their game and that includes former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is shooting 47.9% from beyond the arc this season, one of the best marks in the league.

Los Angeles Lakers (19-21) vs. Denver Nuggets (26-13)

6 p.m. PT, January 9, 2023
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Max Christie
PF: Juan Toscano-Anderson
C: Thomas Bryant

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Wenyen Gabriel, Sterling Brown, Damian Jones

Projected Nuggets Starting Lineup:

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Michael Porter Jr.
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Jokic

Key Reserves: Bruce Brown, Bones Hyland, Zeke Nnaji, Jeff Green, Christian Braun, Vlatko Cancar

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