(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers vs. Nuggets: 3 Things to Know (3/13/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers get their rematch with the Denver Nuggets.
1) Julius went into monster mode
There are few players capable of physically imposing their will quite like Julius Randle, as the Cleveland Cavaliers discovered on Sunday.
In the Lakers’ last game, Randle overwhelmed the defending Eastern Conference champions with his power, velocity and endurance, racking up a career-high 36 points while somehow finding time for 14 rebounds and seven assists.
The 23-year-old could not be kept from the basket. He missed just four of his 18 shots (and only one in the second half). He went to the foul line 10 times (making eight). He scored out of pick-and-rolls, post-ups and cuts.
And Randle still had the energy to impact the game in other areas.
He was arguably the Lakers’ most effective defender on the night, saved six possessions via offensive rebounds and continued to flash his development as a passer out of the post.
Five weeks ago, the Lakers decided to run more of their offense through Randle. He made sure that was a good decision.
2) Vets are making moves
The Lakers are 7-2 since the All-Star Break, and much of that has to do with the way that their three veteran additions have found their games.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been one of the league’s hottest shooters post-All-Star, averaging 17.6 points, while knocking down 3.6 3-pointers per game on a 53.3 percent clip. He has also attacked the glass, raising his season average to 5.4 — which ties Jimmy Butler for best among all shooting guards.
Midseason acquisition Isaiah Thomas has been the pilot that the Lakers’ second unit has been looking for, putting up 17.7 points and 6.1 assists off the bench. Thomas’ shot hasn’t been as efficient as he’d like, but he has a nice chemistry with his new teammates, particularly Randle.
Finally, Brook Lopez has looked like the Brooklyn version of himself who left the franchise as its all-time scoring leader. The 10-year vet has been a behemoth in the post over his last three games, averaging 26.0 points on 63.0 percent shooting.
3) There’s some heat between these teams
The Lakers and Nuggets last matched up four days ago, and that game ended with some bad blood.
For the second straight meeting between these squads, members of the Lakers took exception to the antics of Denver’s Jamal Murray.
Coach Luke Walton described Murray’s trash talking as “disrespectful,” while Lonzo Ball described an earlier taunting incident as a “punk move.”
As for the whole team, the Nuggets’ offense has been one of the best in the NBA lately. Nikola Jokic is coming off a triple-double, while Gary Harris’ shooting has been scorching lately.
And both squads will certainly be locked in for the final clash of a four-round battle for the season series.
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: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California