Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview and Pick

Denver Nuggets (24-15) +4, 223 at Los Angeles Lakers (26-12), 10:30 pm Eastern Monday, TNT
by Zman of

First place in the Northwest Division meets second place in the Pacific when the Denver Nuggets visit the Los Angeles Lakers in an interesting Western Conference match-up Monday night at Staples Center.

NBA Sportsbooks list Los Angeles as a four-point home favorite for Monday’s game, with a total of 223. Also, the Lakers are listed at around -200 on various moneylines, with the Nuggets getting +170 as road underdogs.

Denver has won two straight games after topping Minnesota 111-108 Saturday. But the Nuggets struggled to beat the worst team in the league; they allowed the Timberwolves, one of the lesser offensive teams in the league, to shoot 53% from the field, and trailed at home with just over a minute remaining in the game. But Allen Iverson scored the last seven points of the game to rescue Denver from embarrassment.

Meanwhile, the Lakers looked lethargic and committed 22 turnovers in a 106-98 home loss to Phoenix last Thursday, which broke LA’s seven-game winning streak.

So going into Monday’s play, Denver leads the Northwest Division by a half-game over the second-place Portland Trailblazers, while the Lakers, winners of 17 of their last 21 games, sit in second place in the Pacific, just a game back of the first-place Phoenix Suns.

The Nuggets are 19-20 against the spread this season, but just 7-10 both straight up and vs. the numbers on the road.

LA is 22-16 ATS this season, 15-6 SU and 12-8 vs. the numbers at home.

These two teams have played six times since Denver acquired Iverson in December of 2006. The Lakers have beaten the Nuggets twice already this season, by scores of 127-99 and 111-107. So over those last six games in this series, each team has won three times, and LA has covered the spread four of the six games. Also, the o/u is 3-3 in those last six meetings, which have averaged 219 total points.

Statistically speaking, the Lakers rank 3rd in the league in point differential at +6.1 per game, while Denver ranks 9th at +3.0.

The Nuggets are shooting 46% from the field as a team this season, 33% from 3-point range and 75% from the free-throw line. On the other end of the court, LA is shooting 47% from the floor, 37% from long range and 76% from the line.

The Lakers are holding opponents to 44% FG shooting this season, Denver 45%. And while LA ranks 10th in the league in rebounding at +1.6 per game, the Nuggets rank 18th at +.3.

On the injury front, Denver F Kenyon Martin has missed the Nuggets’ last three games with a staph infection, and he’s listed as questionable for Monday’s game. Meanwhile, Los Angeles continues to play without C Andrew Bynum, who’s out until at least March after popping a knee-cap last Sunday.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranks the Lakers 4th at 95.4, Denver 13th at 91.9. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 2.8.

The o/u is 20-19 in Nuggets games this season, which are averaging 212 total points, while the totals are 19-18 in LA games, which are averaging 209 points.

Zman’s Pick: Nuggets +4.