Lakers face champion Nuggets as they look to win third straight

The Lakers have lost 7 straight games to Denver, including the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers went 9-3 in February and seem to be trending upward even with issues at hand. And while they can seemingly take advantage of the home-heavy schedule for the next three weeks or so, the opposition for those games isn’t exactly a stroll at the beach.

The next game on the agenda? They’re going against the defending champions Denver Nuggets. They are 41-19 and third in a crowded top floor of the Western Conference.

This is the third time they will face said Nuggets. Both games ended up being losses for the Lakers; the game on Opening Night and the game right after the trading deadline ended. The latter was actually admirable as they didn’t have D’Angelo Russell (yes, I know), Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent (who’s been pretty much out all season), and then they lost Max Christie early in the game due to an ankle sprain. Still, they rallied back until said rally was snuffed by Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, Jr.

It goes without saying that the Lakers have to do their best to limit two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic. But Murray (who is questionable for this game) has been a massive thorn on the Lakers’ side. He’s scored 50 points in those two Nuggets wins this season and no matter who’s guarding him, he seems to make everything. Murray is going to be a tough cover should he play. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is also questionable and let’s make a note that the ex-Laker made 20 points in Opening Night against his old team.

But as mentioned, Michael Porter, Jr. was a menace with 27 points in the second game against the Lakers. Remember that the Nuggets also have Aaron Gordon, who covers so much ground on both ends of the floor. Add in the supporting cast of Peyton Watson, Christian Braun, and a rejuvenated Reggie Jackson, and the Nuggets are still a pretty deep team. Of course, everything centers on Jokic and he’ll be ready along with the rest of his horses.

The Lakers playing their third of four games could have them a bit worn out but at least, they had the day off on Friday. Still, coming back from 21 down in the fourth against the Clippers and then going overtime against the Washington Wizards took a lot of energy. They’ll have to reach a bit deep to go against really the only West team that can clearly say they’re better than the Lakers.

We do have a milestone alert. LeBron James has 39,991 career points so that means he’s just 9 away from the fabled 40,000 mark. That is a lot of scoring. LeBron will be the first to hit that point and it’ll be a while when a second player hits that mark, if at all.

But for a team milestone? The Lakers haven’t beaten the Nuggets in the last 7 games, including that postseason sweep. L.A. winning this would be a huge confidence boost and a large step in the right direction. Let’s see if the Saturday prime time lights bring the best out of them.