The Los Angeles Lakers take their five-game winning streak on the road to the thin air of Denver Wednesday. The Lakers are still relishing in an exciting Christmas Day win over the New York Knicks, but that excitement must be put aside as the Lakers focus on a Denver Nuggets team that is 8-1 at home this season.
Both the Lakers and Nuggets played at Staples Center on Christmas, so both teams come into Wednesday’s game a bit worn out. However, the Nuggets were comprehensively beaten by the Los Angeles Clippers in the Christmas nightcap, so the Lakers have momentum and a few extra hours of rest on their side.
The Lakers have won their last three road games, but they are still 5-8 away from home on the season. These two teams met on Nov. 30 at Staples Center in a game the Lakers dominated from the onset. The Lakers won every quarter in that game and scored 122 points en route to a 19 point victory.
The Nuggets, however, are a completely different team in Denver than they are on the road. This season, Denver has beaten San Antonio and Memphis in the mile-high city, and its lone loss came against Lebron James and the Miami Heat.
The Lakers, however, have seemingly turned a corner by beating a good Golden State Warriors team in Oakland and an elite New York Knicks team with the country watching.
Point guard Steve Nash’s return is credited with making the difference, but the entire team has been sharing the ball on offense and working harder on defense during the winning streak. The communication has improved on both ends of the floor, and the results are beginning to add up in the wins column.
The Lakers’ problem is not adding wins but the inability to erase losses. Playing in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back with an older team poses plenty of problems and presents plenty of excuses. However, if the Lakers want to send a serious message about their playoff intentions, they need to go on the road and beat good home teams like Denver.
With a win, the Lakers can creep into the eighth seed by the end of Wednesday. The Clippers are currently in first, so that would make for an interesting playoff series, wouldn’t it?
The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Denver Nuggets at 6 p.m. PT.