Game Preview: Nuggets Look for Second Straight Preseason Win Over Lakers
Los Angeles – For the second time in three days the Denver Nuggets will face a preseason test against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets won the first matchup in San Diego in front of a sellout crowd behind 18 points from Jamal Murray and 19 points off the bench for Juancho Hernangomez.
Tuesday’s game will be played in the Lakers’ regular home arena, the Staples Center, where their marquee offseason acquisition, LeBron James, will make his debut in front of the home fans. The Nuggets held James to a reasonable nine points, three rebounds and three assists over the course of 15 minutes in the preseason opener.
Here is what to watch for:
Playing time: With the Nuggets playing their second game in three days it will be interesting to see how many minutes Head Coach Michael Malone gives to his starting unit. Prior to Sunday’s game Malone said that he would keep Paul Millsap around 15 minutes with the expectation that the rest of the starters would play around 20 minutes. Malone played Millsap a tad more as he logged 22 minutes while Will Barton saw the most court time of any starter at just 23 minutes.
“I think our guys are a little fatigued, mentally and physically, so if we can get something out of tonight’s game, improve, not get anybody hurt and go back to our own beds I think that will be a great accomplishment,” Malone said.
The Nuggets’ bench saw similar action and the stellar play from the reserves helped the Nuggets pull away Sunday night. Mason Plumlee, Juancho Hernangomez, Trey Lyles, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris all played between 18 and 25 minutes.
Stopping the Lakers in transition and in the paint: The Nuggets gave up 22 fast break points on Sunday many of those came off turnovers.
“Even after made baskets, misses, they were running the ball down our necks,” Malone said.
The Lakers also came away with 52 points in the paint, something that Malone looks to improve upon Tuesday night.
“They scored 50 plus in our paint, and again, the start of the third quarter was a big part of that. They opened up on a 15-to-2 run and 14 of those 15 were in our paint.”
Free Throw Shooting: The Nuggets shot 31-of-35 from the charity stripe on Sunday night for a team percentage of 88.5 percent. As a team last season the Nuggets shot 77% from the line. Mason Plumlee, who shot just 45% from the line last season was a perfect 5-for-5. Following Sunday’s Malone noted that getting Plumlee the ball more as part of the offense could help his free throw shooting.
“I think if Mason has the ball in his hands, if we’re playing through Mason a little bit more where he has the ball, has a rhythm I think that’s going to allow him to be a better free throw shooter,” Malone said following Sunday’s game.
Tonight’s game will be at 8:30 MT. The game will be shown on TNT and broadcast from Altitude Sports 92.5 FM.