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Lakers

Preview: Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

Emmanuel Mudiay, Adam Silver

Emmanuel Mudiay meets NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted by the Denver Nuggets at the NBA draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 25.

(Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)

The Lakers (0-3) draw the Denver Nuggets (1-2) on Tuesday night at Staples Center, looking for their first win of the season.

The Nuggets will play without Wilson Chandler (hip) and Jusuf Nurkic (knee), but they may also need to sit Nikola Jokic and Joffrey Lauvergne, who are both questionable with back issues.

Though it’s unclear if the Lakers will have Brandon Bass (eye) and Larry Nance Jr. (nose), their relative depth should give them an advantage.

Forward Danilo Gallinari is leading Denver at 16 points a game, but as a team, the Nuggets are scoring just 92. The Lakers have managed 106 points nightly through their three losses.

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Key matchup

If the Lakers were set on taking a guard with the second overall pick in the June draft, they chose D’Angelo Russell over Emmanuel Mudiay, who went seventh to the Denver Nuggets.

Russell has struggled so far, averaging 9 points and 1.7 assists a game on 36.7% shooting.  Mudiay, who appears to have more freedom to play his style with the Nuggets, is at 12.7 and 5.3, respectively, while shooting just 33.3%.

Mudiay is also turning the ball over 6.3 times a game. while Russell has tallied 1.7 miscues on average.

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The Lakers also passed on big men Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia 76ers) and Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks) to take Russell, but the team was aware that Russell wasn’t as physically mature as the other options.

The Lakers’ hope is that Russell will grow into the better player, even if that’s not the case through three games or even his entire rookie season.

X-factor

Julius Randle was impressive on Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks, going up against all-star Dirk Nowitzki. Though Nowitzki is still a tremendous shooter, he’s not much of a defender.

Randle may have a more difficult matchup against the more physical Kenneth Faried, who is averaging 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds a game for the Nuggets.

Randle, who missed almost all of his rookie season with a broken leg on opening night, is at 13.3 and 9.3, respectively.

The Lakers need a big night from their second-year forward, especially with the Nuggets shorthanded.

Outlook

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The Lakers are desperate for a win, and the Nuggets, while talented, may not be healthy enough to compete. Put the Lakers down for their first victory of the season.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.comfollow him on Twitter @EricPincus


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