(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers at Nuggets: 3 Things to Know (12/2/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers’ road tilt with the Denver Nuggets.
1) It’s all coming up Kuz right now
Five months after being drafted 27th overall, Kyle Kuzma has already ascended toward the top of his class, having been named Western Conference Rookie of the Month on Friday.
Kuzma is just the sixth non-lottery pick to ever win the award in the first month of the year.
Now, after he missed Wednesday’s game due to back spasms, the Lakers are hoping to have Kuzma back in the rotation against Denver.
The 22-year-old already leads the Lakers in scoring (16.7 ppg) with a surprisingly polished skill set. Kuzma has been at his best driving to the rack, but his team-best 37.9 field goal percentage has been crucial to L.A.’s spacing.
Having Kuzma back at full strength would be key against an injured Denver frontcourt.
2) The Lakers’ wings are having a big week
Brandon Ingram showed all kinds of potential in Wednesday’s loss to Golden State, piling up a career-high 32 points.
Ingram had one of his best nights shooting jumpers, but (per usualI) his biggest strength was attacking the rim.
He took advantage of the Warriors’ switching defense and dusted slow bigs on his way to the rim. And he also stepped up against world-class defenders, scoring on the likes of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and ability to finish from an array of angles.
Meanwhile, starting two-guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been a steady source of heat, scoring 20-plus points in four straight games for the first time in his career.
Always good for a fast-break bucket or two, KCP has been especially good from 3-point range lately.
During this four-game stretch he has shot 46.9 percent from deep and is averaging 3.8 triples per game.
Ingram tops his career-high in points again tonight with 32 against the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/SQlonKQqKA— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 30, 2017
3) Denver is depleted but dangerous
The Nuggets will be without their two best players: big men Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.
While those injuries certainly diminish their chances of winning, Denver still has the firepower necessary to give the Lakers problems.
Sixth man Will Barton is coming off a career-high 37-point performance in which he hit the game-winning layup. Kenneth Faried is averaging a double-double in his last three games along with 4.3 offensive rebounds.
Then there is the altitude.
With an elevation of 5,280 feet, Denver’s Pepsi Center is the NBA’s highest arena and one of only two located more than 1,200 feet above sea level.
This makes for the league’s biggest home-court advantage, and particularly costs opponents in transition.
On the road, Denver averages just the 13th-most fast-break points (10.7). But at home — with opposing players struggling to adjust to the thin air — that number swells up to the second-most points on the break (18.2).
Lakers: Kyle Kuzma (back spasms) is questionable.
Nuggets: Nikola Jokic (left ankle sprain) and Paul Millsap (left wrist ligament injury) are out. Wilson Chandler (low back pain) is questionable.
Tip-Off: 6 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California