Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 3 Preview

L.A. Lakers at Denver Nuggets 8:30 PM Saturday May 23, 2009 on ABC
By Jason Green at

Tonight the L.A. Lakers are in the Mile High City to play the Denver Nuggets and the winner of this game will take the lead in the Western Conference Finals. After blowing game 1 the Nuggets came back and were solid in game 2 to win the game and tie the series. In game 1 Kobe got the best of Melo, but the tables were turned in game 2, as Melo won the match up. Even though Melo did have 32 points he was 0-6 from beyond the 3-pt arc. In game 2 the Lakers shot a better FG%, a better 3-pt FG%, a better FT%, and had more rebounds and still lost the game. Billups filled it up in game 2 going for 27 points, including going 13/16 from the charity stripe and hitting some key late free throws. After a solid game 1 Derek Fisher struggled big time in game 2 only going for 3 points on 1/9 shooting. He will have to play better tonight, as his shooting spreads the floor for the Lakers. Lamar Odom and D-Fish have to help out in the scoring department, as in game 2 the two only combined for 13 points. The Nuggets finally won in La La Land and they head home with a ton of confidence for tonight’s game.

The Lakers are posted at +110 as away dogs in this game and the Nuggets are posted at -130 as home favorites.

The Nuggets won game 2 on Thursday night 106-103 to take a 1-0 lead in this series. The high scorer for the Nuggets in that game was Carmelo Anthony going for 34 points on 12/29 shooting. For the game the Nuggets shot 35/79 from the floor for a FG% of 44.3%. The high scorer for the Lakers in game 1 was Kobe Bryant going for 32 points on 10/20 shooting. For the game the Lakers shot 35/77 for a FG% of 45.5%.

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.

After playing poorly in game 1 the Lakers frontcourt played well in the first half of game 2, but not in the second half. Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum have to have a complete game tonight for the Lakers to win this game.

The Lakers gave up some huge offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter and they have to keep the Nuggets off the boards and not give them 2nd chance opportunities tonight.

The Lakers have to hold onto the rock better, as in game 2 they had 16 turnovers.

Pau Gasol had a good game going for 17 points and grabbed 17 boards in game 2, but he has to step when it is crunch time and hit some late buckets.

The Lakers did not play bad in game 2, but they did not execute in the 4th quarter and the Nuggets did, which was the difference maker in the game.

Nuggets reserve SF Linas Kleiza stepped up on game 2 going for 16 points on 5/8 shooting including being on fire from downtown (4/7 from 3-pt land) and if he can contribute like that again tonight the Nuggets will be tough to beat.

The Lakers have to play good perimeter defense on Chauncey Billups and not let him penetrate and get to the line 16 times like he did in game 2. When he penetrates and breaks down the defense it opens up the court for the Nuggets and allows the long-range gunners to have open looks from deep.

All the pressure is on the Lakers now, as the Nuggets now have home court advantage.