On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers (7-8) host the Denver Nuggets (8-8). Denver is playing the second game in two nights after losing in a close game to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. Denver lost by one point, as Andre Iguodala missed a free throw with about three seconds remaining.
However, the Nuggets got a few more bites of the apple. After a failed inbound attempt, Nuggets coach George Karl drew up a play for Iguodala to catch and shoot a 3-pointer with 0.5 remaining on the clock. The shot was good but replays showed the ball was still in Iguodala’s hands when the buzzer sounded.
Denver lost by a couple tenths of a second.
The Lakers have not played since putting in one of their worst shooting performances in recent memory. After Tuesday night's loss to the Indiana Pacers, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni could not offer much of an explanation as to why his team missed 20 free throws or shot around 30 percent from the field after the game.
With Kobe Bryant returning to practice on Thursday, the Lakers should have a decided advantage over the visiting Nuggets. Denver is on the final leg of a three-game road trip and playing its fourth game in six days. Meanwhile, the Lakers have had plenty of time to study and correct the multiple mistakes made in the mind-melting loss to the Pacers.
The Nuggets, however, possess a balanced squad with seven players averaging double figures in points this season. Iguodala leads the team with 15.7 points per game, but four of the five starters are averaging over 13 points per game.
Denver’s bench also contains a dangerous mix of talent and experience. Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee are both averaging over 10 points per game off the bench. Veteran point guard Andre Miller leads the non-starters in minutes and averages over five assists per game. To put this in perspective, no Laker is averaging over 5 assists this season.
On Friday night, the Lakers are desperate for a win against a Denver Nuggets team that is playing its second away game in as many nights. With the Lakers rested, Kobe no longer sick, and the Nuggets tired, the Lakers should be able to pull out a win.