Preview: Lakers at Denver Nuggets

The Lakers (4-5) visit the Denver Nuggets (2-4) on Wednesday night, coming off a Tuesday-night win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center.

The Nuggets are a dominant home team when teams travel to play in the altitude of Denver on back-to-back nights.

With rookie head coach Brian Shaw, and injuries to forward JaVale McGee (broken leg) and Danilo Gallinari (knee), the Nuggets are off to a slow start.

Even so, the Lakers will have a difficult time getting a win in Denver . . .

Key matchup

Ty Lawson is Denver's primary scorer and playmaker, averaging 21.7 points and 7.3 assists per game.

Lawson is shooting 43.9% from the field, 38.5% from behind the arc and 81.0% from the free-throw line. He takes about seven free-throw attempts a game and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.1-1.

Slowing down the Nuggets starts with Lawson, but that's no easy task.

Steve Blake will draw the assignment for the Lakers.

Offensively, Blake has shot the ball well from three-point range, converting 22 of 45 attempts (48.9%). Where he's struggled is inside the arc, hitting just 7 of 31 (22.6%).

If Blake can provide his team with a steady outside threat while doing his best to contain Lawson (no easy task), the Lakers may have a chance to steal one on the road.


Athletic power forward Kenneth Faried is pushing his way back from a hamstring injury.

In his last game, his fourth start of the season, Faried scored 15 points with 13 rebounds. The Nuggets need Faried to be a presence both on the boards and in the scoring column.

The Lakers have the advantage over the 6-foot-8 Faried, starting 7-footer Pau Gasol and 6-foot-10 Jordan Hill in the front court.

Hill scored a career high 21 points on Tuesday against the Pelicans. Strong play from Hill makes the Lakers a much tougher, physical team.


If there is a moment to steal a game in Denver on the second-night of a back-to-back, it's on Wednesday.

The Lakers have yet to win two games in a row this season. The Nuggets are still searching for an identity while dealing with injuries.

With Kobe Bryant (Achilles) and Steve Nash (back) out, the Lakers aren't exactly in the best of health either.

A strong performance could bring the Lakers back to .500 but getting past the back-to-back in Denver may be too much to ask.


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Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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