(Photo By: Bart Young/Getty Images)
Lakers at Nuggets: 3 Things to Know (3/9/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers pay a visit to the Denver Nuggets.
1) Lopez is coming off a bruising effort
Brook Lopez turned back the clock and delivered a win on Wednesday.
In his first season as a Laker, Lopez’s offensive value has been in his ability to stretch out the defense by shooting 3-pointers from the center position. Given that the Lakers play at the league’s fastest pace, it can be forgotten how good he is at working in the post when the game slows down.
That wasn’t the case against Orlando, when he dominated his matchup with Nikola Vucevic, scoring a game-high 27 points almost exclusively from inside the arc.
Lopez beat Vucevic with his arsenal of post moves, including when it came to drawing the game-winning free throws. He also established a nice two-man game with Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter.
Denver’s starting center, Nikola Jokic, is not known for his defensive prowess, so keep a look out for whether the Lakers go back to feeding Lopez down low.
Brook Lopez (27 pts) had a huge game last night, and a lot of that stemmed from his two-man game with Isaiah Thomas.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) March 8, 2018
IT constantly penetrated the defense, drew the attention of Lopez's man and dished to Brook for an open bucket.
: https://t.co/sAJUjbekQl pic.twitter.com/VQqUJFAtWk
2) Kuzma is looking to build off a hot game
Considering his electrifying start to the season, it’s strange that Kyle Kuzma’s 20-point, 10-rebound double-double against the Magic was just his third 20-point game of 2018.
But the rookie has trudged through some rough patches lately, making Wednesday’s potential breakout all the more significant.
With Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart both injured, Kuzma has been forced to start out of position at small forward. But he has embraced that challenge and used it to his advantage versus Orlando.
In that game, he was able to handle the ball a lot more than usual, and was constantly able to get to the rack against the Magic’s perimeter defenders.
With a toolbox of hesitation dribbles, pump-fakes and crafty finishes, Kuzma found a nice groove from inside of the arc.
3) Nuggets need every win they can get
With 17 games left in its season, Denver is locked in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the Western conference.
It’s going to be a wild finish against Utah and the LA Clippers, so any slippage could cost the Nuggets a trip to the postseason.
Enter the Lakers, who are looking to cause chaos with games against all three teams left on the schedule.
Denver is formidable at home, where it has gone 24-10 this season. Its offense is ranked sixth-best in the league, though its defense is fifth-worse.
Nikola Jokic — coming off a 36-point, 13-rebound, six-assist effort — is one of the game’s young stars and best passing big men.
Gary Harris and Jamal Murray are sharpshooters who have sniped the Lakers in the past. Denver also regained the services of four-time All-Star Paul Millsap.
Look for an up-and-down battle between two young teams with a lot of firepower.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (left groin strain), Josh Hart (left hand fourth metacarpal fracture) and Channing Frye (appendectomy) are out.
Nuggets: Tyler Lydon (left knee surgery) is out.
Tip-Off: 6 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A.
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: Pepsi Center — Denver, Colorado