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Preview: Lakers at Denver Nuggets

Pro BasketballSportsBasketballLos Angeles LakersDenver NuggetsKobe BryantKendall Marshall

The good news for the Lakers (21-41) is they won't have much time to sit and dwell on their franchise-worst 48-point drubbing by the Clippers (43-20) on Thursday night.

The bad news is they'll play their fourth game in five nights in the altitude of Denver when they visit the Nuggets (26-34) on Friday.

Denver has struggled this season under rookie Head Coach Brian Shaw, although injuries have played a major part with JaVale McGee (leg), Danilo Gallinari (knee) and Nate Robinson (knee) all out for the season.

GRAPHIC: Lakers play Nuggets a mile high

Point guard Ty Lawson recently returned from a rib injury, but the Nuggets have seriously been slumping.

Of course, so have the Lakers, who have more injuries than any team in the league this season.

Jordan Hill sat out Thursday with a sore knee. His status for Friday isn't clear. The Lakers are still without Nick Young (knee), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Kobe Bryant (knee).

Key matchup

Lawson is the driving force of Denver's offense, averaging a team high 18.3 points and 8.8 assists a game.

The North Carolina point guard has averaged 25.5 points and 9.0 assists in two games since he returned from the Feb. 8 rib injury.

Can the Lakers slow him down with Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar?

Coach Mike D'Antoni has often turned to Jodie Meeks to help defend point guards. Kent Bazemore is another option against Lawson.

Meanwhile, Marshall has had four scoreless games over his last five, although he continues to rack up assists at a high level (9.4 a game on the season).

Farmar has been the Lakers' spark plug off the bench of late, although the Lakers couldn't get anything going against the Clippers on Thursday.

Farmar scored 20 in 26 minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday but just four in 21 minutes in the loss to the Clippers.

X-factor

While Timofey Mozgov has averaged just 8.4 points a game this season, he's been a problem for the Lakers.

Through two games, Mozgov has averaged 21.5 points with eight rebounds and three blocks a night.

The Lakers, on paper, should have the advantage against the Nuggets with the size and skill of Pau Gasol, but Mozgov has all but neutralized that.

Gasol has played well the past couple of months for the Lakers. Even a big night against the Nuggets won't mean much if the Lakers can't get stops in Denver.

Outlook

Defensively the Lakers have been a mess. Getting a win in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back just doesn't seem likely.

ALSO:

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NBA gives dress code warning, Nick Young complies in bright blue suit

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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