The Los Angeles Lakers make their preseason Staples Center debut tonight, hosting the Denver Nuggets in the second game of the Staples Center shootout. The Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz do battle in the first game of the shootout. On Sunday, today's two winners play each other and the two losers play each other, with the Lakers game at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night regardless of today's outcome.
The Lakers have split their last 10 preseason meetings with the Nuggets, dating back to 1982. Last season, Denver won three of the four regular season meetings between the two clubs, including winning a rare game in Los Angeles. Since Staples Center opened in 1999, the Lakers are 18-3 against the Nuggets at home. All-time, the Lakers are 94-49 against Denver.
The Nuggets are having a Los Angeles vacation of sorts, having also played at Staples Center Thursday night against the Clippers. Denver beat the Clippers that night, thanks to a near triple-double from Carmelo Anthony, who scored 30 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished out nine assists. Through Sunday, the Nuggets will have played at Staples Center three times in four days.
Since 2003, the Nuggets are 41-17 during the preseason.
Through three preseason games, Pau Gasol leads the Lakers in scoring, averaging 16.7 points per game, although he has shot just 40% (16-for-40) from the field. Lamar Odom leads the club in minutes (31.7 per game) and rebounds (11.0 per game) in the preseason. Kobe Bryant, while recovering from knee surgery, has made only four of 28 shots -- a 14.3% clip -- this preseason, including missing all 10 three-point attempts.
Tonight and tomorrow mark the first set of back-to-back games this preseason for the Lakers. Per David Lassen of the Press-Enterprise, Lakers' coach Phil Jackson plans to play his starters more:
"Pau (Gasol) played 30 minutes (Wednesday) night, the most anybody's played in the preseason," Jackson said. "I'm going to stretch some of the starters to get up into that territory over the weekend. "So the second night it will be somewhat of a feel for them of back-to-back. They'll be able to judge what they need to do."
"Pau (Gasol) played 30 minutes (Wednesday) night, the most anybody's played in the preseason," Jackson said. "I'm going to stretch some of the starters to get up into that territory over the weekend.
"So the second night it will be somewhat of a feel for them of back-to-back. They'll be able to judge what they need to do."
Tonight's game is at 7:30 p.m. PDT, and will be televised on Fox Sports West.
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