What to Watch for in the Nuggets Third Preseason Game at the L.A. Lakers

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider

The Nuggets and Lakers face each other for the second consecutive game on Wednesday night, though now they’ve moved cities to Ontario, Calif. The Nuggets won the first matchup, on Monday night, 113-107 at the Staples Center. Here’s what to watch for tonight with just three preseason games remaining.

The first unit. There have been good individual performances in each of the first two games out of the Nuggets starting five – i.e.: Paul Millsap’s 22 points, 11 rebounds at Golden State, and Gary Harris’ 25 points against the Lakers – but the starting five as a whole has been up-and-down. They shook off a slow start and were solid on Monday night, especially coming out of the halftime locker room in the third quarter when they took a five-point lead and turned it into 19 before major substitutions. This is expected to be the final game of alternating point guards as well. Nuggets coach Michael Malone has said he’d like to make a decision on a starter after this game and give that individual two games to work with the rest of the starters before the season begins.

Three-point shooting. The Nuggets have sizzled from the 3-point line in the first two games, hitting an average of 14.0 and shooting 49.1 percent. An unreal six players are shooting at least 55.6 percent from the arc, and that list includes Paul Millsap, who has made at least one in each of the first two games.

Juancho Hernangomez. The Nuggets have tried to take it easy on Juancho Hernangomez, the second-year player, who participated in a lot of basketball during the summer. Simply, he needs as much physical and mental rest as the Nuggets can provide while still getting him ready for the season. Hernangomez has played 20.1 minutes in the first two games, and is averaging 9.0 points while shooting it well from the field. He was one of the best shooters in training camp in Boulder, and he’s continued that in the preseason, shooting 46.7 percent from the field overall and 57.1 percent from the 3-point line. He’ll likely get his minutes dialed up when the regular season starts.

Third point guard. If Jameer Nelson (toe) continues to be out, expect the Nuggets to use Will Barton as the de facto third point guard. Given how they play – with multiple ballhandlers, including bigs -- there isn’t much urgency to have a specific guard in that spot while Nelson is out.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.