Los Angeles Lakers (14-14, 102.5 ppg, 99.7 ppg allowed)
- Dwight Howard (17.7 ppg, 57.2% fg, 2 apg, 11.9 rpg)
- Pau Gasol (12.3 ppg, 41.0% fg, 3.9 apg, 8.9 rpg)
- Kobe Bryant (29.9 ppg, 47.5% fg, 4.9 apg, 5.4 rpg)
- Darius Morris (5.1 ppg, 37.3% fg, 2.2 apg, 1.5 rpg)
- Steve Nash (9.3 ppg, 50% fg, 7 apg, 3.8 rpg)
Denver Nuggets (15-14, 101.9 ppg,100.7 ppg allowed)
- Kosta Koufos (7.5 ppg, 59.1% fg, .5 apg, 6.4 rpg)
- Kenneth Faried (11.9 ppg, 51.9% fg, .8 apg, 9.9 rpg)
- Andre Iguodala (13.6 ppg, 44.36% fg, 4.2 apg, 5.4 rpg)
- Danilo Gallinari (15.3 ppg, 38.5% fg, 2.5 apg, 5.6 rpg)
- Ty Lawson (14 ppg, 41.6% fg, 6.9 apg, 2.6 rpg)
6:00 pm PST
Big victories over the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors, the return of Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, Christmas day cheer, a five game winning streak, and most important: momentum. The Los Angeles Lakers are starting to play like the Los Angeles Lakers and it's time for them to walk the walk after all the talked talk leading up to this point in their season.
Things are finally going right.
With for sheer force of positive energy propelling them forward, now the Lakers must keep their momentum rolling. The offense must continue to mature with Steve Nash at the helm. The defense must continue to lock in and stifle opponents even if only for critical stretches. With the Denver Nuggets also playing back-to-back, the odds are leveled. In fact, the Lakers were already touched down in Denver before the Nuggets even tipped off in Los Angeles last night. Grab a hold of this electricity, Lakers, and take us on the ride with you.
The Nuggets are currently hanging onto the 8th seed in the Western Conference at 15-14 as the Lakers look to make their move into the playoffs. The purple and gold have leveled a jagged season and again sit at .500 (14-14). The last time these two clubs met the Lakers unloaded on Denver picking up an avalanche of a win in the 122-103 victory. Antawn Jamison, the latest DNP-CD victim for the Lakers bench, scored 33 points off the bench. He and Jodie Meeks went 12-18 combined from deep while Kobe Bryant only scored 14 points.
Denver continues to be the best team in the league on the glass. They currently lead the league in offensive rebounding, are fourth in defensive rebounding, and are first overall at grabbing errant field goals. Their scoring is still dispersed between six players who all average double digits. Their lead scorer, Danilo Gallinari, is only averaging 15.3 points per game with a 38.5% shooting percentage, while taking a team high 12.9 field goals per game (tied with Ty Lawson).
Speaking of Lawson, Steve Nash will have his work cut out for him on the defensive end. Lawson is one of the quickest guards in the league and will challenge Nash on his first back-to-back of the season since returning. Still, Lawson isn't shooting much better than Gallinari with a 41.6% percentage from the field. With their two primary offensive options shooting at such a poor clip it's providing their bigs plenty of opportunities to snag offensive boards.
Enter Kenneth Faried.
The last time these two teams played Faried only managed to grab TWO rebounds. Faried, currently tied for 10th in the league in total rebounds per game, is a monster on the offensive glass. He's 4th in the league in offensive rebounds and is incredibly active. The Lakers will need to once again contain the Manimal as the 2 rebounds he grabbed last game were a season LOW for him. His second worst rebounding night was against the San Antonio Spurs with 5 total.
Kobe Bryant is on a roll offensively and has now dropped 30 or more points for NINE straight games and continues to attack the rim with vigor. Steve Nash is controlling the offense and had a season high 11 assists. What won't show on the box score are the great screens he has been setting in the half court. Pau Gasol continues to play well with the offense beginning to develop and has had 6 assists in each of the last two games. His value shows as he is the linchpin in many of the half court sets the Lakers are running. Dwight Howard is still finding his way offensively, but similar to Nash, all of the positive things he's accomplishing on the court simply don't show in the box score.
All of that potential energy Mitch Kupchak and the front office bottled up is suddenly becoming kinetic for the Lakers. Schedule-wise this is a tough game. Back-to-backs with the latter game being in Denver are one of the toughest trips to make. Still, with their Christmas day game ending early enough for them to make their way into Denver earlier than usual, there's no reason the Lakers should feel any more handicapped than Denver will tonight. Keep pushing, keep winning, and keep pushing the velocity. Till the game thread...
On This Soundtrack
Metallica - Fuel
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