Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 2 Preview and Pick

Denver Nuggets +5.5 at L.A. Lakers -5.5 O/U 210.5 9 PM ET Tuesday May 19, 2009 on ESPN

By Jason Green at

Lakers lead this best of 7 series 1-0.

Tonight the Denver Nuggets are in L.A. to play the Lakers in game 2 of the Western Conference finals. The Lakers squeaked out a 2 point win in game 1 after trailing most of the game. Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony had a great duel in the game, as Kobe went for 40 and Melo went for 39. Kobe won the battle, as he scored 16 points in the 4th quarter, including draining 6 free throws in the last 30 second, and the Lakers got the win to take a 1-0 lead in this series.

Both teams were shooting the long ball well in game 1, as the Nuggets shot 42.1% from 3-point land and the Lakers shot 44%. The Nuggets only lost by 2 points and they would have won if they had shot better from the charity stripe. In game 1 the Nuggets shot 23/35 for a FT% of only 65.7% while the Lakers were solid going 20/24 from the line for a FT% of 83.3%. Can the Nuggets get over the fact that they should have won game 1? We shall find out tonight.

Hoops bookies have the Lakers as 5.5-point favorites with a total around 210.5. The Lakers are posted at -220 as home favorites in this game and the Nuggets are posted at +180 as road dogs.

The Lakers beat the Nuggets 105-103 on Monday night in game 1. The high scorer for the game for the Lakers was Kobe Bryant going for 40 points on 13/28 shooting. For the game the Lakers shot 37/90 for a FG% of 41.1%. The high scorer for the Nuggets in game 1 was Carmelo Anthony going for 39 points on 14/20 shooting. For the game the Nuggets shot 36/74 for a FG% of 48.6%.

This season the ranked 3rd in scoring (106.7 ppg) and the Nuggets ranked 6th (104.3 ppg). On D the Nuggets allowed 100.9 ppg and the Lakers gave up an average of 99.1 ppg. This season the Nuggets had a rebounding differential of +1.4 and the Lakers were at +2.6.

This season the Lakers were 42-39-1 ATS and the Nuggets were 45-35-2. In terms of Over/Under games the Lakers were 41-39-1 this season and the Nuggets were 42-39-1.

On the injury front neither team is reporting any significant injuries. Even though he is not on the injury list J.R. Smith sprained his knee in game 1 he will play tonight.

The Lakers were lucky to win game 1 and they need to play better tonight and not let the Nuggets get out to a big lead.

The Lakers need better inside offense, as Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum outscored 29-19 by the duo of Martin and Nene. In game 1 Bynum was limited by foul trouble, and Gasol had 4 fouls. Gasol only took 9 shots in game 1 and he needs to be more of a factor on offense tonight. Lamar Odom also has to provide some offense, as in game 1 he only had 7 points.

Chauncey Billups has to play better tonight, as in game 1 he did have 18 points, but he was only 5/13 from the field and 2/7 from beyond the 3-pt arc.

One of the reasons the Lakers won game 1 is the fact that they won the battle of the boards out-rebounding the Nuggets 46/37.

The Nuggets have to play better perimeter defense tonight and not allow the Lakers backcourt to bomb away from downtown, as in game 1 Kobe and Derek Fisher combined to go 5/9 from 3-point land.

Andrew Bynum went for 6 points and grabbed 6 boards in game 1, but he was out-muscled in game 1 and he has to step up tonight and use his body to get deep in the lane.

The Lakers stole game 1 even though, besides Kobe, they did not play very well. They can’t count on Kobe bailing them out again, as the supporting cast has to help him out. Game 1 was a rare win by the Lakers when Kobe takes tons of shots.

Jason’s Pick: I like the Lakers to win and cover.