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Nuggets at Lakers Game Preview: What to Watch For

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

LOS ANGELES – The Nuggets are in Los Angeles on Sunday, looking to turn their road fortunes with a win against the Lakers. To do that, the Nuggets must corral a young and always-running Lakers team.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said one of the things he stressed to the team in a pre-shootaround film session “was getting back in transition – they are third in the NBA in fast break points per game – and they look to run all night long. It’s going to be off makes, off misses, off turnovers.”

The Lakers pace of 106.19 is about as fast as it gets in the NBA. Only Brooklyn and Phoenix play at slightly faster paces. The Nuggets transition defense will be tested, which is fine because Malone says he’s been pleased with the team’s effort in that area all season long.

“Overall, our transition defense has been really good,” Malone said. “If you look at the categories they define as miscellaneous – second chance points, points off turnovers, points in the paint as well as transition – I think we’ve done a really good job in most of those areas. But as we all know, on the road, our turnover problem can feed into their break. So that’s going to be really important.”

What else do the Nuggets need to do to give themselves a chance to win? Start with these things..

Get out to a good start: The Lakers are 6-10 overall, but there is one eye-opening stat about their play. They are 6-1 this season when leading or tied after the first quarter. They are 0-9 when they are trailing after the first quarter. The Nuggets started fast in their last game, a win over New Orleans on Friday. Do that again and it bodes well for their fortunes against the Lakers.

Keep Wilson Chandler rolling: Wilson Chandler is finding a groove in the starting lineup. He’s scored in double figures in each of the last three games, including 15 points and 11 rebounds in the last game against New Orleans. Chandler is averaging 14.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists during this span, while shooting 55.6 percent from the field.

INJURY REPORT: The Nuggets have no significant injuries to report.

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