NBA Basketball

96
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
LA Lakers 29 31 19 17 96
Denver 34 39 29 31 133
133
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CT0:00 , January 15, 2022
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 19,520

Lakers, Nuggets try to improve on mediocre starts

According to STATS
According to STATS

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets

  1. The teams will be meeting for the first time this season with the most recent contest being a 93-89 win for the Lakers last May. The Nuggets had scored at least 90 points in each of its previous 32 games against the Lakers prior to that loss.
  2. The Lakers have lost their last two games, allowing 125+ points to both the Grizzlies and Kings. The team is looking to avoid losing three straight games while allowing 125 or more points in each game for the second time in team history, having only done so in March of 2014.
  3. LeBron James, who turned 37 last month, is currently averaging 29.1 points per game this season, second to only Kevin Durant (29.7). The oldest NBA player to ever average 29.0+ points per game for a full season is Michael Jordan, who did so in 1996-97, when he turned 34 in February of that season.
  4. Denver scored a season-high 140 points in its 32-point victory over Portland on Thursday. It was the most points in a game for the Nuggets since a 149-141 loss to the Heat in the 2017-18 season.
  5. Six different Nuggets scored more than 15 points in the win over the Blazers with Will Barton leading the way with 21. The last time Denver had that many players score more than 15 points in a game was in the 2007-08 season against the SuperSonics.
  6. Facundo Campazzo had 18 points, 12 assists and four steals on Thursday, his second game hitting those marks this month. Prior to that, no Argentinean-born NBA player had ever had all those stats in a single game.

Two teams that began the season with eyes on competing for a championship find themselves hovering around .500 midway through the season.

The Los Angeles Lakers made bold moves in the offseason, trading for Russell Westbrook and signing Carmelo Anthony, among other transactions. But so far things haven't gone as well as they'd hoped. Los Angeles is 21-21 after losing its last two games, the second of which came at the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

The Lakers hope to end the short skid when the visit the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Los Angeles has been through a tough stretch, with center Anthony Davis out with a knee injury and a COVID-19 outbreak on the team. It has forced some adjustments to the lineup, including LeBron James playing some center.

It is reminiscent of Magic Johnson stepping in for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 NBA Finals. James only sees it as something that needs to be done.

"I only play the game for one reason, it's to win," James said. "And no matter what I've been doing as far as this season so far, it hasn't really resulted in as many wins as I would like. So I continue to see ways that I can be better as well. See ways of what I can do both offensively and defensively or for me from a leadership standpoint to help this team get over the hump a little bit more."

James, who turned 37 on Dec. 30, continues to play at a high level, scoring 30 or more points in 11 of the last 12 games.

If anyone can understand putting his team on his shoulders, it's Denver's Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets have dealt with COVID-19 issues and some devastating injures -- two players are out after tearing an ACL -- but the steadying force has been Jokic.

The reigning MVP is putting up even better numbers this year but his supporting cast has been inconsistent. Denver was 4 for 33 from beyond the arc in a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, a game they led by 25 points midway through the third quarter before they finished with a season-low 85 points.

Thursday night, the Nuggets made 21 of 42 from deep and scored a season-high 140 points in a win over Portland. They didn't lose a big second-half lead, a disturbing trend of late, and Jokic was able to sit out the fourth quarter before home games on back-to-back nights, starting with Los Angeles.

"I think everybody who's a Nuggets fan was probably wondering when we got up big when the collapse was going to happen, and give our guys credit," Denver coach Michael Malone said.

The Nuggets got a scare when Will Barton fell head-first into the knee of Jusuf Nurkic in the third quarter and went to the locker room after being down on the court for several minutes. He suffered a strained neck and returned to the bench but didn't play again. He said afterward he could have returned if needed and the Nuggets listed him as probable for Friday's game.

Anthony may not play against the team that drafted him third overall in 2003 and where he played for more than seven seasons. He missed Wednesday's game with a back injury and is listed as questionable.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 14, 2022

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