Originally written on Purple and Gold Blog  |  Last updated 11/8/14
It hasn't been the most pleasant 2-day break for the Lakers (7-8) after falling back to sub .500 last Tuesday thanks to their most lackluster performance of the season against Indiana. There were plenty of reasons as to why and how the purple and gold lost that game, but it's obvious the Lakers can't establish their identity without having everybody back, especially Steve Nash. Without the 2-time MVP at the point, the Lakers had been relying on Kobe Bryant's ability to draw lots of attention from the defense to make plays for the rest of the team. So far, Kobe is averaging 4.9 assists but also 4.1 turnovers per game. Say what you will about that particular stat. But make no mistake, that number is indicative of how much the Lakers miss Nash running the offense. However, Mike D'Antoni isn't harping about all of the wrongs his team is doing on offense. Instead, he wants his team to focus more on the defensive end of the floor. That is probably the biggest understatement of the year. But defense is a different beast compared to offense. It really takes attitude and commitment mentally on an individual level before that takes on the personality of the team. Against the Denver Nuggets (8-8) tonight, the Lakers are seeing the team they bounced out of the 1st round last season for the first time this season. Expect the Nuggets to carry a bit of zest and, perhaps, confidence due to having taken the Lakers to 7 games in the playoffs last year. Not to mention that they now have Andre Igoudala, who they can use to defend Kobe and provide some serious perimeter scoring with the rest of the team. Igoudala leads the Nuggets at 15.7 points and baskets made at 6.1 per game. Career-wise he is averaging 16.6 points and 6.2 made field goals versus the Lakers. But Iggy isn't the only problem for L.A.. Ty Lawson has always been an enigma because of his speed, quickness and ability to score against whoever the Lakers put on him. Lawson is averaging 13.5 points and 7.6 assists this season. He might be an undersized power forward at 6-foot 8 and 228 pounds, but Kenneth Faried is a relentless, energy guy who can outwork and outhustle just about anybody on the floor. This guy loves to help as a secondary defender in the paint and can be a nagging hang nail on the boards as well. Want proof? He's getting 13.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game so far this season. On the flip side, the Lakers have their own guys that can give Denver problems all night long. Kobe Bryant loves to play against them because the Nuggets were a few teams in the NBA who can throw more than one defender at him. Aaron Afflalo is gone now, but Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler are still around. Add Igoudala in the group and Kobe might just be salavating at this challenge since Wednesday. Bryant averages 25 points at 45.7% shooting per game against Denver all-time. Dwight Howard is next in line. He averages 17.1 points, 13.7 boards and 2.1 blocks per outing in his career versus the Nuggets. Same goes with Pau Gasol. His numbers overall reads 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per night. In fact, these 2 teams are nearly parallel in stats this season. The Lakers are putting up 99.1 points (10th) while Denver is at 99.8 points (6th) per game. Defensively, L.A. is allowing 95.5 points (9th) and the Nuggets are giving 98.8 points (18th) per game to their opponents. Then, rebounding and assists look like this: 45.9 (Lakers), 46.8 (Nuggets) and 20.3 (Lakers), 21.8 (Nuggets). Denver is also struggling with their consistency despite only introducing 1 new player in their starting lineup this year. But the Lakers know they can't rely on dealing with a lesser Nugget team even at home. Historically, Denver plays hard against them no matter where they play. If the Lakers respect and, more importantly, expect that tonight, they should be good to go. Then again, Laker fans never know what kind of Laker team shows up each game. The Lakers won last season's series 3-1 and are 5-1 at Staples Center against the Nuggets, including post-season. Matchup of the Game Kenneth Faried vs. Pau Gasol: Tendinitis or not, Pau better bring it tonight. Going up against Faried alone is quite an undertaking even when he's healthy. He can't allow Faried to negate everything he does on the floor. If that happens, it will be difficult for the Lakers to get back to .500 tonight. Keys to the Game > Team Effort: Despite their 8-8 record, make no mistake, the Nuggets are going to be a tough challenge for the Lakers. If they don't meet that challenge from the get-go, Laker fans are going to be frustrated again. > Defense: As always, Denver will attack the Lakers from outside using a variety of dribble penetrations for kickouts and layups and a number of screens to get their shooters free to do their thing. The Lakers have to stay on shooters, rotate well, get back in transition and help out Howard when he goes up for a block. But they also have to remember to make perimeter players dribble the ball into their interior defenders. > Get the Bigs Going Early: Everything tends to go their way on both ends of the hardwood when they feed their post-players early and often. Going inside first opens up the perimeter for everyone. And if Kobe wants to minimize his turnovers, he needs to look for Dwight and Pau as soon as he brings the ball over into their halfcourt. Game Info Tonight vs. Denver Nuggets Tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Staples Center TV: TWC SportsNet/ESPN Radio: 710 ESPN/1330 KWKW Injury Notes Nuggets: None Lakers: Steve Nash (leg – out for at least next week) and Steve Blake (abdomen – out for at least 2 more weeks)  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Mark Wahlberg: Tom Brady is 'an American hero'

Cavs beat Hawks without Kyrie Irving, take 2-0 lead

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Minor League team cancels 'A-Rod Juice Box Night'

Dolphins teammate on Dion Jordan: It’s a bad situation

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Texans reportedly the favorite to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season

Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.