Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers is called for a flagrant foul on Kenneth Faried #35 of the Denver Nuggets and was ejected from the game in the third quarter at Pepsi Center on December 26, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 126-114.
On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers welcome the Denver Nuggets to Staples Center for the second time this season. The last time Denver came to town, the Lakers blew out them out of the building 122-103. However, these teams also met in Denver in a shootout the day after Christmas.
In that post-Christmas showdown, the Lakers were beaten with pace and energy in a 126-114 loss. That game snapped the Lakers’ season-long five-game winning streak. The loss in Denver also marked the first time the Lakers lost after Steve Nash returned from a broken leg.
The game in Denver was a defensive horror show for the Lakers. Dwight Howard grew frustrated by Kenneth Faried’s activity on the offensive glass and around the rim. In the third quarter, the Lakers’ center committed a category two flagrant foul and was ejected from the game.
Faried, a second-year forward out of Morehead State, went on to finish the game with 21 points and 15 rebounds—nine of which were offensive rebounds. On the season, Faried averages a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He shook off a stomach bug to score 15 points and pull down 10 rebounds in Denver's 110-91 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
The win over the Jazz put the Nuggets at 11-2 at home this season. However, Sunday’s game is at Staples Center. Away from the thin air of the mile-high city, the Nuggets are a beatable 8-14. Also, Denver has lost three of its last four away games and comes into Sunday’s game on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Lakers started this season amid constant instability and are at 15-17 entering Sunday’s game. The Lakers have lost three of their last four games, making them 3-3 since Nash returned.
The three-ball has been a major point of concern during the recent slump. The Lakers are shooting 28 percent for the last six games on an average of 25 attempts per game. Sharp shooter Jodie Meeks is shooting 26 percent during the recent shooting slump, and he’s not alone.
Nash is one of the few exceptions to the three point curse. The Canadian point guard is shooting 50 percent from behind the arc since returning from injury. If Nash is excluded from the Lakers’ three point statistics, the Lakers are averaging 25 percent from behind the arc on over 22 three point field goal attempts per game over the last six games.
The Lakers have turned into a team that relies on the three point ball and shoot the third most 3-pointers in the league at nearly 25 per game. Unfortunately, the Lakers have not been living by the three; they have been dying by the three.