The Lakers are coming off an ugly game which ended in a last second loss to the Pacers. That game was marred by 19 turnovers and terrible shooting; the Lakers shot just 31.6 percent from the field and 53.5 percent from the charity stripe. Kobe shouldered the blame but ironically he played with the most intensity from start to finish, despite flu-like symptoms. Hopefully the Lakers can put that dismal performance behind them and play well tonight.
Tonight the Lakers face the Denver Nuggets who are playing for the second night in a row. Thus, they will likely be slightly fatigued and the Lakers should have the early advantage. Nevertheless, the Lakers cannot expect to saunter onto the court and beat the Nuggets. Despite their record, the Nuggets are a solid team that loves to play up-tempo basketball.
Let’s dive into the analysis.
Frontcourt: Kenneth Faried is the Nugget’s leading rebounder and hustler. He’s unanimously known as the team’s energy guy and has a penchant for getting offensive boards and putbacks. Gasol and Howard will need to put a body on Faried or else he could cause havoc in the paint. While Koufos starts at center, he actually only averages 22 minutes. The Nuggets often elect to go with a smaller and quicker lineup as the game progresses. Koufos splits time with McGee who is known for his freakish athleticism and shot blocking. He’s averaging a very efficient 10.4 points, 5.7 boards and 1.8 blocks. For those of you who are stat junkies, his PER is 23.22 compared to Dwight Howard’s PER of 20.84. Surely the Nuggets have a formidable frontcourt who can cause problems for LA’s bigs.
Backcourt: The Nuggets have three very good backcourt defenders. Lawson, Iguodala and Brewer are collectively averaging 3.2 steals and 1.1 blocks. On offense, Lawson loves to penetrate and either slash to the hoop or set-up his teammates. Iguodala is one of the best finishers in the league at the rim. This year he has vastly improved his three point shot and is knocking down 39.3 percent of his attempts. Technically Gallinari should be listed as a frontcourt player, however he plays like a guard. Gallinari is struggling to find his shot this year and is only converting 37.1 percent of his shots while scoring 15.1 points per game. Still, he is a 6’10’’ player who can stretch the floor and cause matchup problems. MWP will have his hands full guarding him tonight if Gallinari gets into any sort of rhythm offensively. Off the bench, veteran Andre Miller has played a key role in running the second unit and is a very good passer.
Key to Lakers’ Victory:
Limit Turnovers: Turnovers are the Achilles heel of this Lakers squad. They retain the top spot in the league for this negative statistic and are averaging 16.8 turnovers. The Nuggets are averaging 15.8 turnovers, which still gives them a one possession advantage. One extra possession could decide the outcome of any given game. Need we revisit the Pacers/Lakers debacle? Clearly, D’Antoni needs to clean up the sloppiness on offense in order for the Lakers to gain the shot attempt advantage which he so often seeks.
Rebounding: The Nuggets are one of the best rebounding teams in the league; they are number one in offensive rebounding and number two overall. If the Lakers don’t box out tonight, Faried will pounce of those offensive rebounds and convert them into easy putbacks. Faried is averaging an astonishingly high five offensive boards per game. McGee and Koufos also like to prey on lazy defensive rebounders. Howard, Gasol and Hill need to limit second chance points and win the rebounding war in the paint.
Denver Nuggets (8-8) at Los Angeles Lakers (7-8)
7:30 PM PST, November 30, 2012
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC Sports Network
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Nuggets Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Andre Iguodala
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Kenneth Faried
C: Kosta Koufos
Key Reserves: C: Javale McGee PG: Andre Miller GF: Corey Brewer