With news that Steve Nash and Steve Blake will be out longer than expected, and coming off a loss in the final second of Tuesday night’s game, the Los Angeles Lakers desperately need a win tonight against Denver. The game at Staples Center tips-off at 7:30PM PT and can be seen on ESPN. Denver (8-8) has been a team of streaks since opening night, losing their first three, winning four, losing three, winning four, and entering the game on a two-game losing streak. Tonight will be the Nugget’s third game in as many nights, including a loss, with a bizarre ending, to Golden State last night.
The Denver Nuggets are a young and athletic team that can shoot and crash the boards. They have six players that average double digits in points and they rank second in the NBA in rebounds per game (46.8). They are led by one of the premier defenders in the league, Andre Igoudala who is averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. Ty Lawson runs George Karl’s offense, averaging 7.6 assists a game. Denver has a highly-talented, yet inconsistent, frontcourt of Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, and Kosta Koufos. Gallinari is a great shooter that has had a slow start to the season, shooting just 25% from three point land. Faried, aka “The Manimal”, is an undersized power forward that crashes the boards like Dennis Rodman. Faried is averaging 11.1 rebounds a game, which ranks fourth in the league. They are a dangerous team, and the Lakers cannot let them run wild, or they will score 100+ points easily.
The Lakers struggles have been well-documented on LALakers101, and they will continue to struggle without the on-court leadership of Steve Nash. Bryant will continue to be the primary facilitator of the Los Angeles offense. Iguodala will be guarding Kobe Bryant, who is coming off of that highly-publicized 40-point game against Indiana. Bryant has recovered from his “flu-like symptoms” and thrives on tough one-on-one defense so watch for Kobe to put up big numbers tonight. Dwight Howard has had some trouble the last few games and Pau Gasol is still trying to figure out his role in the offense, amidst trade rumors. Based on the way Los Angeles has been shooting, defense will again be the key to overcoming the Nuggets, because they won’t outscore Denver.
#15 World Peace SF #8 Dallinari
#16 Gasol PF #35 Faried
#12 Howard C #41 Koufos
#24 Bryant SG #9 Iguodala
#1 Morris PG #3 Lawson
Key Matchup – Pau Gasol vs. Kenneth Faried
Faried is everything Lakers’ fans want Gasol to be. He eats glass and plays tough defense, despite his relatively small stature (6’8”). He averages more points, and more rebounds per game than Gasol does. Granted, Gasol is still finding his way through the offense but it doesn’t give him an excuse for failing to use his myriad of talents. Gasol must play back-to-the-basket ball and out-finesse Faried tonight. From the opposite end, Gasol has to stay in front of Faried on defense as “the Manimal” has the speed to get around the 7-footer.
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