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Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Pick & Prediction, Sat Jan 15 09:00 PM

NBA | BASKETBALL
TV: TSN
Logo Los Angeles Lakers
VS
Logo Denver Nuggets
221.5
OPENNER
-3.5

224.5o -110
CURRENT
-4.5 -101

+159
MONEYLINE
-177

96
SCORE
133

Two teams that began the season with eyes on competing for a championship find themselves hovering around .500 midway through the season.

The Los Angeles Lakers made bold moves in the offseason, trading for Russell Westbrook and signing Carmelo Anthony, among other transactions. But so far things haven't gone as well as they'd hoped. Los Angeles is 21-21 after losing its last two games, the second of which came at the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

The Lakers hope to end the short skid when the visit the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Los Angeles has been through a tough stretch, with center Anthony Davis out with a knee injury and a COVID-19 outbreak on the team. It has forced some adjustments to the lineup, including LeBron James playing some center.

It is reminiscent of Magic Johnson stepping in for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 NBA Finals. James only sees it as something that needs to be done.

"I only play the game for one reason, it's to win," James said. "And no matter what I've been doing as far as this season so far, it hasn't really resulted in as many wins as I would like. So I continue to see ways that I can be better as well. See ways of what I can do both offensively and defensively or for me from a leadership standpoint to help this team get over the hump a little bit more."

James, who turned 37 on Dec. 30, continues to play at a high level, scoring 30 or more points in 11 of the last 12 games.

If anyone can understand putting his team on his shoulders, it's Denver's Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets have dealt with COVID-19 issues and some devastating injures -- two players are out after tearing an ACL -- but the steadying force has been Jokic.

The reigning MVP is putting up even better numbers this year but his supporting cast has been inconsistent. Denver was 4 for 33 from beyond the arc in a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, a game they led by 25 points midway through the third quarter before they finished with a season-low 85 points.

Thursday night, the Nuggets made 21 of 42 from deep and scored a season-high 140 points in a win over Portland. They didn't lose a big second-half lead, a disturbing trend of late, and Jokic was able to sit out the fourth quarter before home games on back-to-back nights, starting with Los Angeles.

"I think everybody who's a Nuggets fan was probably wondering when we got up big when the collapse was going to happen, and give our guys credit," Denver coach Michael Malone said.

The Nuggets got a scare when Will Barton fell head-first into the knee of Jusuf Nurkic in the third quarter and went to the locker room after being down on the court for several minutes. He suffered a strained neck and returned to the bench but didn't play again. He said afterward he could have returned if needed and the Nuggets listed him as probable for Friday's game.

Anthony may not play against the team that drafted him third overall in 2003 and where he played for more than seven seasons. He missed Wednesday's game with a back injury and is listed as questionable.

--Field Level Media

PREDICTION
Los Angeles Lakers
111
115
Denver Nuggets

Los Angeles vs. Denver Recap FEB 14TH 2021

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 34 points, LeBron James added 26 and the Los Angeles Lakers never lost the lead over the final three quarters Thursday night en route to a 114-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals near Orlando.

The top-seeded Lakers hold a 3-1 lead in the series and are within one win of the NBA Finals. Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday.

Jamal Murray paced the Nuggets with 32 points and eight assists, but he misfired on all three of his 3-point attempts.

Los Angeles led each of its previous two series 3-1 before closing out the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets on its first opportunity to advance.

Meanwhile, the third-seeded Nuggets find themselves in familiar territory facing a 3-1 deficit. They also trailed the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers 3-1 in their first two rounds before stunning each with three-game turnarounds to move on.

After losing for the first time in the series on Tuesday, the Lakers led by 10 points in the first quarter, 12 in the second and 11 in the third before the Nuggets rallied within 87-86 on a pair of free throws by Monte Morris with 11:14 remaining in the game.

Denver managed to hang within 105-102 and got possession after a Davis turnover. However, James pressured Murray into a short-range miss, and Rajon Rondo countered at the other end for a five-point lead with 2:48 to go.

The Los Angeles advantage was still five when James missed a jumper with 1:05 to play. However, the Lakers' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope snatched the offensive rebound and the Nuggets fouled James, whose two foul shots with 59 seconds left opened a 111-104 lead and iced the win.

Free throws by Rondo (one) and Davis (two) then secured the win and put the Lakers one victory away from their first NBA Finals appearance since winning the title in 2010.

Davis, the series' leading scorer, hit 10 of his 15 shots and went 13-for-14 at the free-throw line. The Lakers, for the second time in the four games, used a large disparity in fouls shots to outscore Denver 28-20 at the line and overcome the Nuggets' 50.6 percent to 47.5 percent advantage in field-goal shooting.

James shot 11-for-14 at the line and joined with Davis in getting Nuggets big men Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap in foul trouble.

James also found time for nine rebounds and a game-high-tying eight assists.

Four other Lakers scored in double figures, with Caldwell-Pope going for 13, Dwight Howard 12 to complement a game-high 11 rebounds, Rondo 11 and Kyle Kuzma 10.

Denver's Jerami Grant finished with 17 points, Jokic 16, Michael Porter Jr. 13 and a team-high eight rebounds and Morris 12.

--Field Level Media

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