Los Angeles Lakers (13-9) at Denver Nuggets (14-7)
7:30 PM PST, February 3, 2012
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
TV: ESPN, KCAL
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Nuggets Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Aaron Afflalo
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Nene Hilario
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: PF Al Harrington, PG Andre Miller, SG Rudy Fernandez
Tonight the Lakers start a six game road trip in Denver, where they will face off against the Nuggets. The Lakers have been woefully bad on the road this season, sporting a 2-7 record. They will be on the road for the next 10 days, so a win tonight would start the Lakers out on the right foot. They’ll need to bring their A-game in order to trump a very balanced Nuggets team led by Danilo Gallinari.
Frontcourt: The Nuggets have two big men who can matchup physically with the Lakers’ twin towers. But the Lakers big men are arguably more skilled. Mozgov stands at 7’1’’ and is a decent shot blocker, but his offense is lacking. Nene is good for 14 points per game and also fills up the stat sheet with steals and blocks. Off the bench, the biggest ex-factor for the Nuggets this year has been Al Harrington. He has poured in 15 points per game on 50 percent shooting. In addition, he spreads the floor with his three point shooting (1.6 treys per game).
Backcourt: The point guard tandem of Lawson and Miller has been very successful this season; their combined averages are 26 points and 13 assists. Lawson is a speedy guard who can get past defenders with ease. Miller is a savvy veteran who has a knack for finding the open man. Aaron Afflalo is a lock down defender who can also knock down the trey. Leading the backcourt is Gallinari who has had the best season of his short career. His 17.4 points lead the team and he’s also getting it done on the defensive end with 1.4 steals per game. He’s starting to live up to his sixth overall pick potential.
Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
Stalwart Defense – The Nuggets lead the league in scoring with 105.4 points per game while connecting on 48.1 percent of their attempts. The Lakers will need to limit the Nuggets from scoring and hopefully their defense will lead to offense. On one hand, the Lakers defense has been great this year, but their offense has been stagnant.
The Power of the PAK – Pau, Andrew and Kobe (PAK) are the only three Lakers who average double digits in points. The offense ebbs and flows with the PAK’s overall performance. They will all need to perform at their peak in order for the Lakers to have a chance of out scoring the scorching hot Nuggets. In addition, the rest of the team needs to provide some supplemental scoring. Let’s hope World Peace gets it going; he’s only scored 11 points in the past four games combined.
Lakers Injury watch: Steve Blake (fractured rib cartilege, out until mid-February), Derrick Caracter (torn meniscus in left knee, out through January)