Two Western Conference playoff teams collide on the pro basketball hardwood Sunday when the Denver Nuggets
visit Los Angeles
to play the Lakers
during the second game of an ABC-TV doubleheader. Tip-off from Staples Center is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
The Nuggets appear to have a lock on the fifth seed, which would translate into a first-round series with Oklahoma City.
The Lakers have been the hottest team in the NBA since the All-Star Break, and they are quickly moving to overtake San
Antonio atop the Western Conference standings. The two-time defending champion Lakers are now just 1 ½ games behind the
Spurs with seven games remaining.
These two teams are hoping to avoid any key injuries heading into the postseason. Denver has posted a 14-4 SU ledger since
the Carmelo Anthony trade, while Los Angeles is 17-1 SU since hosting the All-Star Game.
Denver is riding a five-game SU winning streak (3-1-1 ATS) after Friday’s 99-90 victory over Sacramento as a five-point road
favorite. The combined 199 points never seriously threatened the 217 ½-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve to
7-1 in Denver’s previous eight outings.
The Nuggets took control of the contest by outscoring the Kings in the third quarter, 31-16. Denver finished the game with
advantages in rebounding, 45-41, assists, 23-19, and points in the paint, 58-48. The Nuggets shot a solid 49 percent
(39-of-80) from the field, and 29 percent (4-of-14) from behind the arc.
Point guard Raymond Felton scored 14 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, while power forward Kenyon Martin added 14.
Center Nene contributed 12 and 12 rebounds in the victory, while shooting guard Arron Afflalo had 11 and five. Denver has
now gone 19-7-1 ATS its last 27 games overall.
Los Angeles continued its winning ways by beating Utah Friday as an eight-point road ‘chalk,’ 96-85. The Lakers have now
covered their last three games, while the combined 181 points went ‘under’ the 193 ½-point closing total.
Los Angeles found itself trailing the Jazz by 17 points in the first half, but stormed back for the road victory. The Lakers
won despite trailing Utah in rebounding, 44-39, and points in the paint, 50-38. Los Angeles shot 48 percent (34-of-71) from
the field, and 39 percent (7-of-18) from 3-point land.
Power forward Lamar Odom scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench, while shooting guard Kobe Bryant paced
the offense with 21. Power forward Pau Gasol provided 16 and nine in the victory, while point guard Derek Fisher netted 15.
The Lakers are 7-2 ATS their previous nine games versus Northwest Division opponents.
Los Angeles and Denver have split two earlier games this season, with each club covering the spread once. The Nuggets
prevailed Nov. 11 as a three-point home underdog, 118-112, while the Lakers won Jan. 21 as a one-point road ‘chalk,’ 107-97.
The ‘under’ is 14-5 the past 19 meetings in this series.
The Don Best Sports injury report lists Denver center Melvin Ely (personal), forward Al Harrington (Achilles) and guard Arron
Afflalo (hamstring) as “questionable,” while forward Chris Andersen (ankle) is “doubtful.” Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom
(flu) and forward Matt Barnes (suspension served) are “probable” against the Nuggets.
The Nuggets return home after this game to play Oklahoma City before traveling to face Dallas and the Thunder. The Lakers
host Utah following this contest before embarking on a two-game road trip against Golden State and Portland.