The Los Angeles Lakers finally get to return home from their five-game road trip but do not get too much of a break as they face off against another Western Conference contender in the Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers were able to win the first matchup between the two teams in Denver, but the Nuggets have looked much better in recent weeks as they are currently on a five-game winning streak.
Anthony Davis was able to return to the starting lineup in the loss against the Milwaukee Bucks and surprisingly played 43 minutes, a good sign for Los Angeles as he will likely see plenty of time on Nikola Jokic. Davis did an excellent job guarding Jokic, but the latter has started to round into shape and could be an issue for Los Angeles if he finds himself matched up with anyone other than Davis.
While Kyle Kuzma will return after missing the team’s five-game road trip, LeBron James will not play.
Still, the key to the game may come down to how well the purple and gold can take care of the basketball as they have been turnover prone in their last several games. Denver is still a middle-of-the-pack offense so limiting their transition opportunities off live-ball turnovers needs to be an emphasis for head coach Frank Vogel and company.
The Lakers bench also needs to step up as they were held to only four points in their loss to the Bucks. Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso went scoreless in the game and will need to look to score in order to lighten the offensive burden on the starters.
A win against Denver would go a long way in getting back on track as Los Angeles should mentally benefit from defeating another quality opponent and hopefully spark another winning streak.
Los Angeles Lakers (24-5) vs. Denver Nuggets (19-8)
6:30 P.M. PT, Dec. 22, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso
Projected Nuggets Starting Lineup:
PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Will Barton
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Nikola Jokic
Key Reserves: Jerami Grant, Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr., Miles Plumlee