Injuries: Lakers: Sasha Vujacic-Sprained Right Shoulder (Out for 2 weeks), Luke Walton, Pinched Nerve in the Lower Back (Out indefinitely). Denver: Kenyon Martin - Left Knee Contusion (Day to day)
Regular Season Series: Denver 2-0
Streaks: Lakers won 1, Nuggets won 3
Time: 3:30PM EST - TV: ABC
Denver has our number this season. November 13th, Melo scores 25 pts, two more than the Lakers scored in the entire second half. Denver wins 105-79. February 5th, Denver without their star player, decide to go with Chauncey Three-ups as their arsenal. He ends up with a season high 39 pts going 9-13 behind the 3 point line. J.R. Smith also had a big night scoring 27 pts.
Now is the time and only chance to tie the season series by winning today's game and possibly on April 8th. Lakers need to stop Carmelo put up season average numbers and play better defense around the perimeter forcing Billups to his midrange game. Both Chauncey and Carmelo continue to dominate and are having career high seasons. The Nuggets have the depth to close the season strong and carry that momentum into a successful postseason.
Kobe's numbers have dropped a little but his assists are elevating. He will need to shoot above his season average today and play his signature defense against Denver's shooting front line. Gasol is playing great and his height is a must for not only his scoring but more importantly rebounding. Bynum is getting back to rhythm and is showing confidence again. Lakers are a rebounding nightmare with their twin towers. Their recent production will be required to help balance the load. Artest will have his hands full with Melo. Lakers should try to match Denver's 3 point shots. This might be the opportunity for D Fish to show his high arc masterpiece. J.R. and Chauncey will have their shots, lets just hope the Lakers will have theirs too. Lamar is also playing well and his lengthth defense will be needed against Kenyon (if he plays).
Finals thoughts. The Lakers bench can not afford to be outplayed by Denver's second unit. J.R. Smith is a known shooter and will flat out score so L.A. has to match his efforts in order to maintain the lead or hang in striking distance.