Records: Lakers 10-8 Nuggets 11-7
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.7 (7th); Nuggets 107 (15th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (13th); Nuggets 101.1 (2nd)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Chris Mihm
Nuggets: Allan Iverson, Anthony Carter, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby
The Nuggets Coming In: After an up and down start, we all have some questions about this Nuggets team â€” and who better to ask about those issues than the Nugg Doctor, one of the better team blogs around. Here are his answers to my questions, but be sure to go to his site for the questions I answered â€” they seriously think Sasha was acting when he was choked by Melo last game.
1) The offense is a surprising weak link with the Nuggets so far. Is that the lack of structure (something you complained about) or what else is going on here?
All of the offensive problems the Nuggets have run into so far this year have been because of too much individual effort and not enough team effort. In games that the Nuggets have won, they almost always record 25+ assists. But, as we saw in the game against the Rockets, eight assists or a similarly low total almost surely means the Nuggets take the L.
2) Youâ€™ve expressed frustration with the inconsistency of the Nuggets this season (a familiar refrain for Lakers fans). Can you put your finger on why the Nuggets fall prey to this?
The main aspect of the consistency conundrum the Nuggets get faced with is leadership. AI is a great scorer and creator, but Iâ€™m not sold on his leadership abilities. Carmelo is just not vocal enough at this point in an otherwise fine career to get the job done every night either. Anthony Carter has comeback from injury and is helping us, but until Chucky Atkins comes back from his groin pull, or Coach George Karl decides he wants to work the sidelines, the Nuggets are going to experience stretches where there is no clear leadership.
3) The Nuggets have a lot of talent, but does it have the right balance and role players to reach the next level? If not, what type of changes would you want to see? I would just like to see the Nuggets get a full roster of players healthy for once!
I think that we have the role players on the roster, but guys like Nene, Chucky Atkins, and Steven Hunter are definitely three of our best in this department and they are unavailable. Right now, I look at the Nuggets as a team with their meat and potatoes, (i.e. Carmelo, AI, and Marcus Camby), on their plate, but they are missing their au jus sauce and red wine to wash it all down with.
4) Do you still see this team as a potential Western Conference Champion come the playoffs?
Yes, I do still see this team going as far as the Western Conference finals if, and when, they get everyone back and the chemistry can develop. My reasoning behind such a bold statement is Denver is arguably one of the deepest teams in the west at full strength and also one of the most talented. The Nuggets have guys on their bench that would start for a lot of teams in the NBA this year and if we can find the right rotation recipe and have everyone buy into the schematic that will result in good team play then I believe there is not a team in this league that the Nuggets canâ€™t beat!
The Lakers Last Night: Kwame Brown and Ronny Turiaf are watching at home, Andrew Bynum is watching from the dressing room feeling sick and taking fluids, Kobe hasnâ€™t eaten all day because of the flu â€” and the Lakers still cruise to a win. Yes, it was Minnesota, but a road win when you are limping along is a good thing, I donâ€™t care who its against.
Good to see Chris Mihm step up. The guy has taken some heat from Lakers fans but he is clearly not the athletic Mihm from before the injury. Yesterday was a step forward, however.
Then there was Trevor Ariza, getting his first serious burn and basically demanding more run because of his play. Good defense, getting to the rack, playing within himself. His defense against other second units could be a terror that creats some fast breaks for the Lakers.
Letâ€™s just hope everyone is healthy tonight.
Keys To The Game: Getting Kobe and Fisher the entire fourth quarter off last night is a big plus, but this is still a tough game for the Lakers. Denver will be a little more motivated than the average regular season game after the embarassment of last week.
The Lakers need to take care of the ball â€” turnovers got the Nuggets the big lead last game, then when the Lakers shut off that faucet they were able to come back. Kobe is going to have to have a big game, and Odom is going to have to play better defense on Melo than he did last game.
Where you can watch: Game time is 6 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9), nationally you get the joy that is ESPN.