Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets (-5.5, 216)
The Los Angeles Lakers can reach the .500 mark for the first time since being 8-8 on Nov. 30 when they visit the Denver Nuggets on Monday. The Lakers have won 11 of 15 games since bottoming out at eight games below .500 and are making a charge at landing a Western Conference playoff spot. Denver has the fifth-best record in the West and is a sensational 23-3 at home. The Nuggets are 2-1 against the Lakers this season.
Denver has won eight consecutive home games since falling to the Washington Wizards on Jan. 18. The Nuggets notched a 113-99 road victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday. The Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 103-99 on Sunday and their recent hot stretch has moved them within 2 1/2 games of eighth-place Houston in the playoff race. “They are playing better and we need to continue to sustain the home court,” Denver coach George Karl said. “The Lakers aren’t a playoff team now, but they are playing like one.” Los Angeles is 10-18 on the road.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Los Angeles), Altitude (Denver)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (28-29, 23-33-1 ATS): Kobe Bryant recently guaranteed that Los Angeles will make the playoffs and he has posted back-to-back terrific efforts against Portland and Dallas. Bryant scored 40 points in Friday’s victory over the Trail Blazers before coming back with 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against the Mavericks. “That’s why he’s Kobe Bryant,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after the win over Dallas. “He’s not John Smith. No disrespect to John Smith, whoever he is. That’s what he does, that’s what he loves. That’s what he trains for.” Point guard Steve Nash scored 20 points – the first time he has reached that total with the Lakers.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (35-22, 33-24-0 ATS): Point guard Ty Lawson has a career-best six consecutive 20-point outings after scoring 20 in the win over Charlotte. Lawson is averaging 26.2 points during the stretch as he has been looking to score more than he usually does. “I figure when I start being aggressive and getting to the lane, things happen for me whether it’s scoring or getting assists,” Lawson said. The fourth-year pro is averaging 16.3 points and 7.1 assists. Forward Danilo Gallinari is dealing with a thigh injury and his status will be firmed up in the hours prior to the contest. Gallinari leads the Nuggets with a 16.9 average.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Under is 13-5 in the last 18 meetings in Denver.
* Lakers are 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Denver.
1. Denver is 9-6 in its last 15 regular-season contests against Los Angeles.
2. Lakers C Dwight Howard is averaging 13.4 rebounds over his last five games to raise his season mark to 11.9.
3. The Nuggets are 22-3 when holding opponents under 100 points.