The majority of NBA teams are crossing over the 20-game mark in the 2018-19 season. After initially struggling mightily, the Los Angeles Lakers sport a record of 11-8 while the Denver Nuggets sit at 13-7 with the #2 seed in the West. The first time these two teams met it was a nail-biting display of basketball with aggressive undertones marinating from testy encounters dating back to last season. The first one was in LA. This time, we will see the Lakers travel to Denver to battle the Nugs in the high elevation showdown at the Pepsi Center.
The teams enter into this game coming off of two vastly different results. The Lakers just lost a very winnable game against the Orlando Magic(who swept them for the year) while the Nuggets just executed an impressive win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Denver is traditionally a tough place to take a win due to the aforementioned elevation, so the Lakers have their work cut out for them. The Nuggets home record supports this theory as they're 8-3 on the year there.
The disappointing loss to the Orlando Magic still stings for the Lakers. They'll be looking to get back on track with a win against the Nuggets no doubt - but the Nuggets lost last time to the Lakers. Their desire to win coupled with the backing of their raucous home crowd might be a recipe for Denver's victory.
The Lakers haven't had a hard time scoring points this year, but their effectiveness on the defensive end has been a whole other story. They've actually looked way better in recent games, particularly since the arrival of Tyson Chandler. They put up a great display against the Utah Jazz holding them to 83 points but dropped the ball against the Magic, giving up 108 after being up by more than ten early on. Denver will be a hard team to tango with, but I have faith in them starting things on the right foot defensively.
On top of that, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have made it a priority to come out aggressive attacking the rim in the beginning of games. They elevate the team when they come out looking to drive. When they shift their offensive priorities from settling for bad jumpers to attacking the rim, it changes everything in the gameplan. Even though they just incurred that unnecessary loss against the Orlando Magic, I think their chemistry as a team is evolving. Ingram and Ball can both take another step forward offensively on Tuesday night.
I think the Nuggets are going to be empowered tonight though. They're going to want to beat the Lakers in front of their fans who they believe "stole" a game against them earlier this season. Jamal Murray is going to be chippy, I expect him to go off for maybe 40 against the Lakeshow. I'm going to give the edge to Denver in this contest and guesstimate that they emerge victorious in a close game 105-100.
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