Two of the top Western Conference contenders battle on Wednesday when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers won four of their past five contests while Denver has won four straight games and eight of its last 10.
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The Nuggets battled back from a 23-point deficit with under 19 minutes remaining to rally to a 127-120 triumph over the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Monday. "After that first quarter where our defense was nonexistent, I thought we did a pretty good job on that end of the floor," Denver coach Michael Malone said afterward. "... That was another remarkable comeback by our resilient group." Los Angeles tuned up by shellacking the visiting Phoenix Suns 125-100 for the seventh win by 25 or more points this season. "It's time to destroy teams and not give any teams any hope," backup center Dwight Howard said after Monday's win. "We have to dominate from the first quarter to the fourth quarter."
TIME: 10 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet, Sportsnet One
ABOUT THE LAKERS (40-12): Point guard Rajon Rondo scored a season-best 23 points against the Suns on 9-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. "When he gets in the game, we want to keep that pace high," power forward Anthony Davis said of Rondo in a postgame television interview. "He has been hesitant on his shots lately and (Monday) he let it fly. When he lets it fly and he's shooting the ball extremely well, then we're a tough team to beat." Rondo is 7-of-10 from behind the arc in the last two games after being 6-of-34 over his previous 15 appearances.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (38-16): Denver racked up 74 second-half points during the impressive comeback and point guard Jamal Murray was key in the fourth quarter when he scored 14 of his 26 points. Power forward Paul Millsap turned 35 on Monday and he made 4-of-5 3-point attempts and scored 22 points to help spur the rally. "We were giving him some smack this morning about being a senior citizen," Malone said. "He's playing like he played to start the year. To start the season I thought Paul and Will (Barton) were our best players. Now Paul, having time off, recuperating, getting healthy, and coming back fresh. That's great."
1. The teams split the first two meetings with both winning on the road, including the Nuggets rolling to a 128-104 win on Dec. 22.
2. Los Angeles G Avery Bradley is 18-of-29 from 3-point range in five games this month while averaging 15 points.
3. Reserve SG Jordan McRae, acquired last week from the Washington Wizards, had eight points and five rebounds in 16 minutes on Monday in his Denver debut.