Pre-Game Report: Lakers Eye Fourth Straight Win In Denver

Los Angeles Lakers (3-2) at Denver Nuggets (2-2)
5:00 PM PST, January 1, 2012
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
TV: KCAL, NBA League Pass Channel 760
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)

Nuggets Projected Starting Line-Up:
Ty Lawson
Arron Afflalo
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Nené
C: Timofey Mozgov

Key Reserves: G Andre Miller, F Al Harrington, G Rudy Fernandez

The Lakers look to continue their three-game winning streak against the Denver Nuggets in the second of a home-and-home matchup; this time in Denver. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 92-89 on Saturday afternoon despite turning the ball over a season-high 19 times.

Frontcourt: The Nuggets saw better production out of center Timofey Mozgov in yesterday’s game. However, his eight point, 10 rebound effort is likely to have just been a fluke as it is far off from his career numbers of 3.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. The Nuggets will be counting on him to step up again in order to effectively counter the Lakers’ bigs. The Nuggets have former center Nene slotted at power forward thus far, but may rotate him to his former position with Al Harrington coming off the bench. Harrington was the Nuggets’ leading scorer on Saturday. Always ready to shoot the three-ball is Danilo Gallinari. Had he made just one shot from distance on Saturday the game would have been tied. Instead, he missed all four of his attempts. The backup center for Denver is Chris Andersen, who has not seen many minutes aside from an opening game blowout victory over Dallas.

Backcourt: The Lakers did a fantastic job of shutting down the production of Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo. The two are backed up by veterans Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez. The explosive backcourt is responsible for the bulk of Denver’s scoring output. Each member saw decreased production as the Lakers defense was stout and suffocated the Nuggets. On the other hand, Lawson’s eight assists were twice as much as he had in any other game this season. The Nuggets will rely on their backcourt to perform at a higher level with the support of the home crowd. Saturday’s game saw Lawson’s scoring average drop from 22.3 points per game to 19, which still is leading the team.

Fun Facts:

  • With yesterday’s victory, the Lakers are now 96-51 against the Denver Nuggets.
  • Andrew Bynum scored over 20 points just once last season; yesterday he scored 29 in his season debut.
  • Kobe Bryant needs four points to reach 28,000 career points, which would make him the youngest to reach that plateau.

Keys to a Laker Victory:

Shut down Lawson
Prior to yesterday’s game, Lawson was shooting 61.9% from the field, and 41.6% from three-point land. Evidently, the Nuggets averaged 111 points in going 2-1, and leading the league in scoring. The Lakers effectively took him out of the equation, and held him to just nine points on three-of-eight shooting, and only 1-3 from three.

Keep Playing in the Paint
It is no fluke that Andrew Bynum had his second-highest scoring output with 29 points. With Mozgov at center, and Nene occupied with Pau Gasol, the Lakers are at a major advantage. Both bigs combined to shoot 71.4% from the field.

– Pass on the Three, if Possible
The outcome might not hint that the Lakers shot 2-for-24 from distance. An eight percent success rate often spells doom for a team. The Lakers might not get so lucky again. They need to create better shots, or pass the ball until the best opportunity creates itself.

Prediction: Lakers 108, Nuggets 104

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