L.A. Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Preview and Pick – Point Spread

L.A. Lakers (7-1 3-5 ATS) vs. Denver Nuggets (6-3 4-5 ATS) Pepsi Center Denver CO, 10:30 PM EST Friday November 13, 2009 on ESPN
by Jason Green at Predictem.com

Point Spread: Lakers +3 / Nuggets -3
Over/Under: 212

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Tonight in the Mile High City the Denver Nuggets host the L.A. Lakers. Something’s gotta give in this game, as this season the Lakers are 2-0 on the road while the Nuggets are 2-0 at home. With their convincing win over the Suns last night the Lakers took over 1st place in the Pacific Division while the Nuggets are tied with Portland for 1st place in the Northwest Division. The Lakers have won 6 in a row while the Nuggets are coming off a loss. This game features 2 of the best scorers in the league in Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging a career best 30.2 ppg and their match up is always a sweet one to watch. The Lakers are on fire so far this season and just think how much better they will be when Pau Gasol gets back. Lakers’ head coach Phil Jackson recently said he was kidding when he said Gasol would be out until Christmas. The other teams in the league wish he wasn’t.

This is the first meeting since these 2 teams met in the Western Conference finals last season.

The Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 121-102 last night and could not have looked better doing it. Kobe was the high scorer in the game going for 29 points on 13/21 shooting. For the game the Lakers were en fuego shooting 53/92 for a scorching FG% of 57.6%. On D the Lakers were dominant holding the Suns to 38/104 from the floor for a FG% of only 36.5%.

In their last game the Nuggets lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 108-102 on Wednesday night. Melo was the high scorer going for 32 points on 9/25 shooting. For the game the Nuggets only shot 35/88 for a FG% of 39.8%. On D the Nuggets allowed the Bucks to shoot 40/82 from the floor for a FG% of 48.8%.

This season both teams are pretty even in scoring, as the Nuggets rank 5th (106.3 ppg) and the Lakers rank 6th (105 ppg). On defense the Lakers are better ranking 12th in points allowed (97.4 ppg) while the Nuggets rank 22nd (103 ppg). The Lakers have a rebounding differential of -0.8 rpg while the Nuggets are at -2.8 rpg.

Denver began the season 5-0, but they have lost 3 of their last 4 games.

Ron Artest was signed in the off-season just for these types of games, as he has the task of trying to contain Melo. If he is successful the Lakers should win this game.

Chauncey Billups (19.3 ppg) and Melo have to shoot the ball well tonight, not just for scoring, but to open up the lane for Nene (13.7 ppg) and Kenyon Martin (10 ppg).

If the Lakers play like they did last night it may not matter how the Nuggets play, as they will win. They could not miss shooting and on D they out-rebounded the Suns by 19 boards and the only Suns’ starter that scored in double figures was Steve Nash (13 points) and every Phoenix starter is averaging in double figures. How good was the Lakers’ D? Well the Suns’ starters shot a combined 16/49 from the floor.

Andrew Bynum came back from missing 2 games and was a monster going for 26 points on 13/18 shooting and he grabbed 15 boards. The Nuggets do not have a lot of size and they have to keep Bynum from having another big game.

Denver has a couple of legit bench players in super-6th man J.R. Smith and rookie PG Ty Lawson and each is averaging over 10 ppg and each needs to give the Nuggets some offense tonight.

Last season the Nuggets had defensive specialist Dahntay Jones, but he signed with Indiana in the off-season and someone has to step up and try to guard Kobe. That will be far from easy, as Kobe leads the NBA in scoring this season (33 ppg).

In their last game against the Bucks the Nuggets were killed on the boards and tonight facing Bynum they may have trouble on the glass again.

On the injury front PF Pau Gasol and C Andrew Bynum are day to day for the Lakers and PF Kenyon Martin is day to day for the Nuggets.

Jason’s Pick: The Lakers are on fire and are coming off a huge win last night, but they cannot let up. Denver can score with the best of them so the Lakers will have to play another solid defensive game and I think they will do it. The Lakers will win the battle of the boards and they will win this game handing the Nuggets their first home loss of the season. Take the Lakers and the points and with the Lakers offense clicking the Over is also a solid pick.