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NBA Game of the Day

   by ASA - 02/04/2010

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

Feeling ‘Melo

Denver has played their last six games without the NBA’s leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, who is again doubtful against the Lakers with an ankle injury. They have lost two straight and are 3-3 without him. Without him, they are a very average offense. They are averaging just 99.5 points per game without him have shot 46% or below in five of those six games (106.8 with him and averaging nearly 47% field goals). They lost their last game on Wednesday night against the Suns, managing just 97 points against one of the worst defenses in the NBA.

They’ll need more of a contribution from fellow all-star Chauncey Billups, who had just 11 points and shot 5-for-14 against the Suns, after shooting 6-for-25 in Monday's win against the Kings. "Sometimes he takes a little too much responsibility for Melo not being in the lineup — and because of that, he's probably missed a few shots that maybe we should have been a little patient with," head coach George Karl said. Without Anthony, the Nuggets struggled at creating a "hot player" on offense, as Karl likes to say. Nene led Denver with 15 points — the lowest total for the team this season.

With their recent cold streak, the Nuggets have fallen 4.5 games behind the Lakers in the Western conference playoff standings. They are 4-2 in their last 6 road games, with quality wins at Utah, Golden State, San Antonio and Houston. They could struggle tonight against the Lakers stout defense. LA is allowing just 93.6 points per game in their last five games.

Leg-less Lakers

A few nights after Kobe Bryant became the Lakers all-time leading scorer, head coach Phil Jackson became the winningest head coach in franchise history with their win over the Bobcats on Wednesday night. It was their first game home after an eight game road trip out east and they are feeling the aftereffects. Stars Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant were just 8 of 25 from the field and managed just 19 points. "We got out of sync a little bit, and the legs were extremely heavy," said Gasol.

Bryant is dealing with a sprained ankle that has hampered him for the past few games that has left the team scrambling to figure out how to win with Bryant and Gasol not at their most effective. Bench contributors Shannon Brown (10 points), Lamar Odom (19 points) helped out immensely last night. The bench will need more contribution with four tough games remaining before the All-Star break, including tonight vs. Denver, Portland, San Antonio and Utah.

Previous Meeting

These two met in Denver in mid-November in their only previous meeting this season. Denver dominated that game, leading by 29 points at one point, and ended up handing LA their largest loss of the season. (26 points). The Lakers shot a season low 35% from the field and had 18 turnovers. Denver had +12 edge in points in the paint and +10 edge in fast break points. The Lakers have defeated the Nuggets at home in four of the last five meetings, winning by 9.8 points per game.

Trends:

Denver is just 4-12-2 ATS in their last 18 vs. Western Conference and more specifically, 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 vs. NBA Pacific. They haven’t performed well on the road lately, as they are just 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 road games whereas the Lakers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 home games.

Los Angeles is 13-6 ATS in the last 19 meetings with Denver and 12-3 ATS in the last 15 meetings in Los Angeles. These two have also finished ‘under’ in 11 of the last 14 meetings.

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