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Nuggets face L.A. Lakers to close February home schedule

Denver looks to take season series and improve upon 23-3 record at Pepsi Center


Whenever the Lakers visit Pepsi Center, L.A. fans inevitably try to make themselves heard.

As the Nuggets and Lakers renew their rivalry Monday night, coach George Karl is hoping Denver fans rise to the occasion.

"We’ll have a good crowd," Karl said. "We’ll have the intensity of a lot of Lakers fans. Hopefully the Nugget fans can blow them away."

After splitting back-to-back road games against Washington and Charlotte, the Nuggets (35-22) will be seeking to extend their home winning streak to a season-best nine games.

Denver is 23-3 at home, including a 126-114 victory over the Lakers on Dec. 26. Los Angeles (28-29) has played much better since then and improved to 11-4 over its past 15 games after beating Dallas on the road Sunday.

"Any Lakers game has meaning for any team," Karl said. "I think it’s a good test. They are playing better and we need to continue to sustain the home court. The Lakers aren’t a playoff team now, but they are playing like one.

While the Lakers are making a push for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, the Nuggets are battling with Memphis for the No. 4 spot.

Denver aided its cause by ending a four-game road losing streak Saturday in Charlotte. The Nuggets clamped down defensively, scoring 23 points on 18 Bobcats turnovers.

"We can be one of the better teams in the league," Denver point guard Andre Miller said. "It’s just a mentality thing, how you approach the start of the games. We have our ups and downs and our inconsistencies right now, but down the stretch we’re going to have to rely on our defense and forcing turnovers to make a run in the playoffs."

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson extended his career-best streak of 20-point games to six with 20 against Charlotte. In his past two games against the Lakers, Lawson has totaled 38 points and 24 assists without committing a turnover.

"When I start being aggressive and getting into the lane, things happen for me, from scoring to getting assists," Lawson said. "It just makes my team go, so that’s what I’m going to try to do for the rest of the year."


LAKERS AT NUGGETS


WHEN:
7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV; RADIO: Altitude; 104.3 FM, AM-950

PROBABLE STARTERS
DENVER

F Danilo Gallinari
F Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
G Andre Iguodala
G Ty Lawson

LAKERS
F Metta World Peace
F Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard
G Kobe Bryant
G Steve Nash

INJURY REPORT
DENVER:
Danilo Gallinari (left thigh bruise) is day-to-day.
LOS ANGELES: Pau Gasol (foot) and Jordan Hill (hip) are out.

SERIES NOTES
The Nuggets are 2-1 against the Lakers this season and have won nine of the last 15 regular season meetings … Denver has won nine of the last 13 regular season home games against Los Angeles at Pepsi Center, dating back to the 2005-06 season … Denver has only won five of their past 31 road games against the L.A. Lakers dating back to the 1996-97 season … The Nuggets won the season series with the Lakers in 2009-10 (3-1) and 2010-11 (2-1), marking only their second and third season series wins over Los Angeles since 1994-95 (won 3-1 in 2006-07) … On 2/27/09, the Lakers shot just .298 (28-94) FG, their second-worst FG percentage since moving to Los Angeles in 1960. On 11/13/09, the Lakers managed just 23 second half points (a record for fewest points in a half) and just eight points in the third quarter (a Nuggets record for fewest points allowed in a quarter)