Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers (-2.5, 202 o/u)
The fact that the Los Angeles Lakers (13-38, 7-17 home) are actually favored in a game says less about the their own squad and more about the state of the Denver Nuggets (19-33, 7-19 away), who will visit the STAPLES Center tonight for a 10:00 p.m. Eastern tip-off.
Not only have the Nuggets lost their last four road games (and 14 of the last 17 away from Denver), but the team is showing signs of imploding. The Brian Shaw-coached squad is hitting only 31.7-percent from beyond the arc and scoring only 95.1 PPG (on 41.1-percent shooting) over its previous 14 games.
However, Shaw saw some promise in the team’s 124-114 home loss to Oklahoma City on Monday.
“When I talk about the kind of losses that I can live with, this is one of them,” Shaw said. “I thought our guys showed a lot of heart. We’re not into moral victories, but it’s something we can build on, especially if we can carry it over into [Tuesday] night.”
Forward Wilson Chandler had 23 points to lead the Nuggets in the loss, while troubled point guard Ty Lawson added 22 points and nine assists.
Tonight, the Nuggets have the good fortune of playing one of the only teams in the Western Conference below them in the standings. The Lakers are second-last in the West with just 13 wins, and their recent four-game road trip was emblematic of their season: the team went 0-4 and was held under 42-percent shooting.
“I’m still continuing to get comfortable,” said rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson, who had a team-high 20 points in the Lakers’ 120-105 loss to the Cavs on Sunday. “It’s coming along well, and I’m thankful for the opportunity they’re giving me to learn.”
Even without Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles is showing signs of life on offense. The team has averaged just over 101 PPG in its last five. However, the Lakers have been absolutely dismal on defense lately, giving up almost 110 PPG over the same stretch.
Head coach Byron Scott isn’t going to let the players’ inexperience let them off the hook. “Our guys are getting baptized by fire,” said Scott. “They’ll learn. They’ll just keep working at it, but I don’t use that youth as an excuse.”
The fact of the matter is that you have two horrific defenses squaring off tonight, which is why the over (202) is reachable.
(Photo credit: Ty Lawson Nuggets” by Keith Allison. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ty_Lawson_Nuggets.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Ty_Lawson_Nuggets.jpg.)