The two best teams in the Western Conference will square off right before the All-Star Break on Wednesday night. The Los Angeles Lakers currently have a three-game lead on the Denver Nuggets for the No. 1 seed in the West, but their grip on the conference has been slipping. The Lakers are 6-5 in their last 11 games, and they haven’t defeated a team with a winning record since beating Houston back on January 18. Meanwhile, Denver has won five of its last six games with victories over Milwaukee and Portland and two wins over Utah in that stretch.
This game will take place at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on February 12, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
The Lakers and Nuggets have met twice this season with the road team winning each time. LA went into the Mile High City and secured a 105-96 victory in early December as Anthony Davis and LeBron James both dropped 25 points on the Nuggets. Davis notched a double-double with 10 rebounds, and LeBron nearly secured a double-double too with nine assists on the day.
Denver avenged that earlier loss just before Christmas, knocking the Lakers off 128-104 in Los Angeles. The Lakers were shorthanded as they didn’t have LeBron James, but Anthony Davis was 13-23 from the field to lead all scorers with 32 points. Unfortunately for the home fans, he didn’t get much help from anyone other than Kyle Kuzma, as no other Laker finished with more than eight points.
The Nuggets won’t have Mason Plumlee available until after the All-Star Break due to a foot injury. They are optimistic that youngsters Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol will be available though. Porter has been limited with an ankle issue, while Bol has been dealing with a foot problem. Will Barton has been limited with a knee injury too, keeping him out since last Tuesday, so Denver may decide to rest him before the break.
DeMarcus Cousins is the only player listed on the injury report for the Lakers. He has been sidelined since last year with a major knee injury, and the hope is that he will be available to provide another frontcourt presence in the postseason.
Player to Watch
LeBron James has continued to evolve as a player. In his 16th season, James knows that he can no longer take over games night in and night out, so he has become more of a distributor. He leads the NBA in assists with 10.8 APG, and he is also shooting 49 percent from the floor while averaging 25 PPG. LeBron has become a better three-point shooter this season too, making him all the more dangerous away from the basket.
The Nuggets are one of the most well-rounded teams in the league. They have the best defense in the Western Conference, allowing opponents to score just 106.2 PPG, and Nikola Jokic is the rare big man that can do it all. Jokic is one of the best players in the NBA, and his scoring and vision makes him difficult to defend no matter how athletic you are down low. While he might not score many points against the Lakers, he will have an impact on the game.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the Nuggets might decide to sit important players like Barton and Porter right before the break. They don’t want to rush anyone back too soon and risk aggravating an injury at this point, and that will likely help the Lakers.
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