Still flying high off Friday’s win, the Los Angeles Lakers welcome the Denver Nuggets to Staples Center on Sunday evening.
After Kendall Marshall broke out in his first start with the Lakers, Ty Lawson and the struggling Nuggets come to see if Marshall can do it again. The 22-year-old out of North Carolina opened some eyes with a calm and collected 20 points, 15 assists and six rebounds against the Utah Jazz. Arguably, the most impressive aspect of Marshall’s performance was that he only turned the ball over one time in 41 minutes on the floor.
On Sunday, the Nuggets waltz into downtown Los Angeles coming off a rare win. Prior to Friday’s win over Memphis, the Nuggets had lost eight games in a row and nine out of ten. For the Lakers, they need a win on Sunday because the schedule takes a treacherous turn after Sunday. After Denver, the Lakers hit the road for 10 of the next 11 games.
Sunday’s marquee matchup is Marshall against Lawson. Both players are point guards and both played college ball at the University of North Carolina, but the similarities end there. Lawson is a speedier guard who is bordering on all-star status, while Marshall is methodical and bordering on being out of the NBA.
Apart from the point guard matchup, the Lakers will hope to lean on Pau Gasol. Arguably, Gasol’s performance against the Jazz was more impressive than Marshall’s. Gasol finished the game with 23 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. Unfortunately, the rumors surrounding the Spaniard are beginning to escalate to an uncontrollable rate.
Late Saturday night, the official radio home of the Los Angeles Lakers announced that Gasol was being traded. Shortly thereafter, they retracted their tweet and apologized for not following proper reporting protocol.
Although the reporting practices of a close partner of the Lakers deserve criticism, the more important take away from that late night mix-up is that Gasol’s name is currently accompanied more with the word “trade” than it is with “basketball.” That has to weigh on a player.
Gasol did take part in Lakers shootaround, so he is a part of Mike D’Antoni’s game plan. Should Gasol suddenly be traded, Chris Kaman would expect to make the jump to starter alongside Robert Sacre, Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks and Marshall.
With Johnson back into the starting five, the Lakers will feature their 19th new starting lineup this season.