The Denver Nuggets (21-19, 17-23 ATS) host the Los Angeles Lakers (21-21, 17-25) on Saturday at Ball Arena in their first meeting of the season. The Nuggets are 3-1 in their last four games while the Lakers are 4-2 in their last six outings.
Opening Odds Analysis
The Nuggets opened as 3.5-point favorites at open with the total set at 221.5 points. The OVER is 5-1 in Los Angeles’ last six games and 6-2 in Denver’s last eight home contests, while the Lakers own an 8-2 record in the last 10 meetings between the two clubs.
Los Angeles News & Notes
The Lakers dropped their second straight game on Wednesday, falling 125-116 to the Sacramento Kings. De’Aaron Fox scored 29 points to lead Sacramento while LeBron James dropped 34 for Los Angeles to lead all scorers.
While Anthony Davis has been out with a knee injury for the past month, James has taken his game to another level. The 37-year-old is averaging 31.6 points per game in January and his mark of 29.1 on the season is good for second in the NBA. Davis could return as soon as next week as he will be evaluated then according to coach Frank Vogel, but it’ll be up to James to keep shouldering to load until then.
Dwight Howard (knee) and Carmelo Anthony (back) are questionable for Saturday.
Denver News & Notes
The Nuggets blew out the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday in a 140-108 win. Will Barton led Denver with 21 points while six players scored at least 16 in the victory. Nikola Jokic scored 20 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists, missing out on a double-double for the first time in 10 games.
Jokic has been a force at both ends of the court, averaging 25.5 points (11th), 14 rebounds (2nd), and seven assists (11th) per game this season. His efforts, however, have not translated into success for the Nuggets as the team has struggled to get much scoring from elsewhere, ranking 23rd (106.4 points per game) offensively.
Their last game was an outlier as the Nuggets got big performances off the bench from players like Facundo Campazzo (18 points) and Zeke Nnaji (16 points). They’ll need more of that if they’re going to pick up more wins down the stretch.
Barton (neck) is probable while Jeff Green (personal) is questionable for Saturday’s matchup.
How Los Angeles Will Cover
It’s almost a guarantee that James will produce another 30-plus point performance, but even that hasn’t been enough to get the Lakers a win some nights. If they’re going to keep this game close, they’ll need a lot more from Russell Westbrook, who is averaging just 7.7 points per game over his last three outings.
How Denver Will Cover
On Thursday, the Nuggets demonstrated what they can do when they’re getting scoring from starters other than Jokic plus even more help off the bench. If the offense isn’t clicking, Denver can always fall back on its ninth-ranked defense. James will probably get his points, but the Nuggets should be able to lock down the rest of the Lakers offense.
Computer Pick: Nuggets -4.5
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