Lakers Vs. Nuggets Preview: Injuries Mounting, LeBron James Set To Make History As Playoff Hopes Dwindle
LeBron James
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

A short-handed Los Angeles Lakers team, with LeBron James just 13 points away from history, will take on the talented Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers’ season is basically over after a disappointing loss to the L.A. Clippers on Monday night. The defeat put them 5.5 games back of the final playoff spot, with just 18 games remaining; a nearly impossible gap to overcome.

On the injury front, Lonzo Ball remains out and will be re-evaluated on either Thursday or Friday of this week. So too is Kyle Kuzma after suffering a sprained ankle in the loss to the Clippers, and Tyson Chandler is missing another game because of neck stiffness.

Brandon Ingram, who missed the previous contest because of shoulder soreness, is considered questionable. Lance Stephenson also falls under that designation because of a sprained toe.

Perhaps the only positive heading into the matchup is that James is just 13 points away from passing Michael Jordan for fourth all-time on the NBA’s scoring list. It would be nice for James to get this piece of history in a win, but the moment should be huge for James’ legacy either way.

The Nuggets, with only Trey Lyles out, appear to be the healthiest they’ve been all season. As they sit two games back of the Golden State Warriors for first place in the Western Conference, they’ll try to grab as many wins as possible before the season ends, which means they will not be easing off the gas pedal in this one.

Denver has lost three games in a row but nevertheless are a dangerous team. Led by the young and insanely talented group of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Will Barton, the Nuggets are one of four teams that are top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating.

James and head coach Luke Walton is keenly aware of the challenge Jokic poses, particularly considering the Lakers’ lack of depth and versatility to switch on defense.

“We can’t let them move the ball freely, we’ve got to push them off their spots, we’ve got to get rotations from our weak side,” Walton said. “Nothing new and special, but we’ve got to do a much better job with those defensive coverages.”

Isaiah Thomas is making his return to the Staples Center to play the Lakers for the first time since departing via free agency. Thomas played 17 games with the Lakers prior to undergoing season-ending hip surgery.

Los Angeles Lakers (30-34) vs. Denver Nuggets (42-21)

7:30 P.M. PT, Mar. 6, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Reggie Bullock
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: LeBron James
C: JaVale McGee

Key Reserves: Josh Hart, Moe Wagner, Mike Muscala, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Projected Nuggets Starting Lineup:

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Will Barton
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Nikola Jokic

Key Reserves: Malik Beasley, Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris, Isaiah Thomas, Torrey Craig

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